So you’ve got there, seen the shops, found somewhere to eat, what do you do now? Start at an old church (www.visitdublin.com) St Andrews in Suffolk Street because this is where the main tourist office can be found (There is a small one in O’Connell Street opposite Dr Quirkey’s.). Not only has it an avalanche of information about attractions, accommodation and tours throughout Ireland but upstairs is a quiet café where you can catch a cup of tea whilst you go through the brochures and decide where to go. As ever it depends on your interests but one thing I would spend money on every time is to see the luxurious illuminations in the ninth century Book of Kells which , next year, will have been in Trinity College for 350 years.(www.bookofkells.ie) How long it must have taken the monk(s) to compile this beauty of a book is mind-numbing but for €9 I am happy to pay to see it and the exhibition that surrounds the importance of this Celtic icon. If museums are your interest then you should know that the four museums of the National Museum of Ireland are all free to enter.(www.museum.ie) Three are in Dublin, that for Archaeology in Kildare Street, Natural History in Merrion Street and Decorative Arts and History in Collins Barracks. There are museums scattered throughout the city. How about the National Leprechaun Museum (cost €10: www.leprechaunmuseum.ie) in Abbey Street which will help you understand the folklore and the mystery of the little people. Or Dublinia which isn’t called a museum but an experience of Viking and mediaeval Dublin. (Tickets €6.95: www.dublinia.ie) There is the Chester Beatty Library and Art Museum (www.cbi.ie ) which is more in the traditional vein as is the Dublin Writers’ Museum. (www.writersmuseum.com)
Recently Dublin has trumpeted that it has a world-class convention centre so that it can increase its share of business tourism. For the ordinary tourist though, you might be interested in another new feature, The Art Park, which has opened in Spencer Dock. It’s a space for public art which normally means sculpture but here there is also a huge visual arts screen that can be used for digital media.
The number of world-renowned writers with Dublin links is astonishing for what is a comparatively small city. Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift, George Bernard Shaw and James Joyce, Oliver Goldsmith and Edmund Burke, W. B. Yeats and Brendan Behan, Sheridan and the Dracula writer, Bram Stoker are just ten authors who are commemorated in the city either in museums or in houses linked to them. It will come as no surprise then to see there is a writers’ walk that you can join. As there is a musical pub crawl and a variety of other walking and hop-on, hop-off bus tours. These don’t all necessarily cost. Dublin council runs a “Walk and Talk” event every day bar Saturday which are just walks and specifically not labeled as historical walks. They start from different places and last about 90 minutes. (www.letswalkandtalk.ie) or you might prefer to take a cruise on the Liffey (only from March till November)
If you have time to go further afield, or are staying in Ireland for a week or so, you might want to consider a See Ireland 4 day rail pass for €100. Or for just a quick trip to see outside Dublin catch the Dart train to Dun Laoghaire and back. It won’t take too long but the railway runs alongside the bay and gives you some great scenery.
If you happen to be staying over then a performance at the world renowned Abbey Theatre is almost worth a visit just to say you’ve been here. (www.abbeytheatre.ie) Spare a night from the delights of socialising in Temple Bar and see the best of Irish drama. But don’t forget to take a walk to the Guinness Storehouse at some stage during your stay. What would Dublin be without a pint or two of the black stuff?
To get around, the Dublin rambler ticket or on foot is probably the best way. Phoenix Park where there is Dublin Zoo and the Wellington Monument (yes he was born here too) is probably as far west as most people might want to go and that is just opposite the last stop on the 748 bus from the airport. The Irish Museum of Modern Art is also just near there. (www.imma.ie) To the south you’re probably not going to go past the Grand Canal (not quite like the one in Venice) but walking around St Stephens Green and the street off it will give you a good view of the many Georgian terraced frontages that Dublin has been at pains to preserve.
Finally a word about prices. To many Dublin (and Ireland) is seen as an expensive place to visit. And some things are. Books seem pricey and some restaurants are up with top London prices. But I get the impression that prices have dropped a bit over the last year and it seems a bit more reasonable for the things the average tourist would buy.
Having written so much, I realise how much more I could write. And for a day trip there is far too much to see. Although Dublin is fairly compact, a lot is packed into a small area. Maybe two days is what is really needed. Or 3.
For more information on Dublin, the official online tourist office is www.visitdublin.com, Images are courtesy of Visit Dublin