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In Dublin's Fair City

In Dublin's Fair City

Pedestrian, 12 km, 3 days

A few tips and suggested visitor attractions in a city famous for its history, literary heritage and, of course, its 'craik'!

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Writers' Museum   Interesting

18/19 Parnell Square North Dublin
Museums and art

The Writers' Museum is devoted to the works of Irish writers, particularly those from Dublin, who have won no fewer than 4 Nobel prizes (Yeats, Shaw, Beckett and Heaney). Also included are Jonathan Swift and his contemporaries, authors such as Oscar Wilde and George Bernard Shaw, who established their reputations in England, those who went to live abroad such as James Joyce and Samuel Beckett, and the great names from the 19C, including Yeats, Synge and O'Casey.

An essential visit in a city famous for its literary tradition. The museum gives a fascinating insight into the lives of its literary sons (Wilde, Beckett, and the gang) with a collection of their personal books, letters, portraits and personal items. You can lose yourself in this place for hours before you even realize it and the building, a restored Georgian mansion on Parnell Square, is a treasure in itself.

Hugh Lane Gallery of Modern Art   Interesting

Parnell Square Dublin
Museums and art

The modern art museum bears the name of Sir Hugh Lane (1875-1915), from whom the core of the collection came. There are major works of Irish and French painting, including impressionist canvases by Corot and Courbet, and the Francis Bacon Studio, purchased in 1998. An entire room is dedicated to Roderick O'Connor (1860-1940), a friend of Gauguin; his canvases reflect the influence of his fellow French painters, from Seurat to Van Gogh.

Just up the road from the Writer's Museum is the Hugh Lane Gallery where we headed to for before lunch. The gallery houses around 2,000 pieces of modern and contemporary art from Monet, Renoir and Degas, among others. There's also an ongoing schedule of temporary exhibitions but we found the multimedia installation running at the time - more miss than hit! Traditionalists should stick to the main gallery!

Abbey Theatre  

Abbey Street Dublin
Architecture, castles and historic districts

Portraits of actors and writers who have contributed to the influence of the Irish theatre decorate the foyer. It was opened in 1904 under the direction of Yeats and Lady Gregory, and since the 1950s has been housed in a modern building which also includes the smaller Peacock Playhouse.

Also known as the National Theatre of Ireland, The Abbey Theatre is an Irish theatrical institution. Very popular with tourists, we somehow managed to snag tickets for a Roddy Doyle version of Playboy of the Western World and seemed to be the only non-US people in the audience! A brilliant night out!

Famine Memorial  

Custom House Quay Dublin
Archaeological and historical sites

Six bronze statues by Rowan Gillespie erected on the wharf on the bank of the Liffey evoke the full range of feelings and emotions experienced by the many victims of the Great Famine.

One of the most famous examples of The Great Famine memorials that you'll find dotted throughout Ireland is at Custom House Quays in Dublin. The gaunt sculptures, by artist Rowan Gillespie, evoke an image of desperate figures walking towards the emigration ships on the Dublin Quayside. Hauntingly beautiful.

Grafton Street   Interesting

Grafton Street Dublin
Architecture, castles and historic districts

The most elegant of Dublin's shopping streets is now a pedestrian precinct. In the 19C it was paved with pine blocks to soften the noise of the carriage wheels. Bewley's Oriental Café with its mosaic façade and stained glass windows by Henry Clarke was opened in 1927; the obsolete equipment exhibited on the upper floor give a glimpse of developments in the profession since the 1840s.

Head this way for some retail therapy - along with Henry Street this is Dublin's main shopping area. It's famous for the buskers who entertain the crowds and you should also look out for the statue of Molly Malone, the subject of the famous song that has become Dublin's unofficial anthem. The song tells of a beautiful fishmonger who plied her trade on the streets of Dublin, but who died of a fever whilst very young, and the statue has become a favourite meeting place for Dubliners.

Shaw's birthplace  

33 Synge Street Dublin
Museums and art

The modest house where George Bernard Shaw (1854-1939) was born and spent his early years is furnished in the style of the mid-19C.

If you fancy a detour then you could do worse than Shaw's birthplace. This neat, terraced house was the first home of George Bernard Shaw, the renowned playwright, and acts as a window into Victorian Dublin domestic life, as well as an insight into the early years of one of Dublin's Nobel prize winners for literature.

Guinness Storehouse   Interesting

Crane Street Dublin
Museums and art

The sweet fragrance of hops will lure you into the old warehouse of the Guiness brewery, where a glass of the most famous creamy-headed stout in Ireland is given to visitors after they have visited the Guinness production exhibition (for which there is a charge, despite its promotional nature). A film, writings, paintings, and old equipment help recreate the 140-year existence of the family firm.

Dublin's number one visitor attraction and easy to see why! Come and see the home of the 'black stuff' and sample some of Dublin's very own 'black magic'! probably not as boozy an experience as you may be expecting but a really interesting and enjoyable way to spend an afternoon and a nice way to warm-up before sampling the delights of Temple Bar!

Old Jameson distillery  

Bow Street Dublin
Museums and art

Part of the old Jameson distillery has been redeveloped to demonstrate the processes used in whiskey production, from the oldest to the most recent. A video is shown before the tour, which then passes from a kiln to the courtyard where the barley was delivered, and then to the grain store. All the mysteries surrounding the maturing of the famous spirit are revealed, following which there is a tasting.

Another great way to spend an hour or two in Dublin by seeing how another of the city's finest exports is made. Well worth a look - and I don't even like whiskey!

Viking Adventure  

Essex Street West Dublin
Industrial tourism and theme park

The tour starts with the passengers boarding a drakkar to explore Dyfflin, the old Viking Dublin. The inhabitants relate how they traded, settled in Dublin, working with leather and textiles and making jewellery before converting to Christianity and building the first church. A film traces the history of the Vikings as they journey as far as Russia and Istanbul, navigating by the sun and stars.

An ideal trip for families, Dublin's interactive Viking Adventure is situated on what was once an actual Viking settlement (many artifacts were found in the site's excavation). Our kids loved the "Norse" guides who walk you through the recreation and on to a Viking feast in the Banqueting Hall.

Temple Bar   Interesting

Temple Bar Square Dublin
Architecture, castles and historic districts

This lively district takes its name from Sir William Temple (1628-1699), the Provost of Trinity, who lived near a walk called The Bar in the 18C. A stroll through the maze of small streets, alleys and courtyards reveals, nestling among modern buildings, a great variety of old buildings (Georgian houses, warehouses and chapels) which have been restored and converted for other uses.

Let's be honest, no trip to Dublin is complete without sampling the city's nightlife and what the locals refer to as 'The Craik' - that's Irish for 'a great time' to you and me! The best place to end the day with some Guinness and a bite to eat is Temple Bar that has more pubs, bars and restaurants than you can shake a stick at. If you're in the mood for some live music - and you'd better be or you're in the wrong place - then we'd suggest Bad Bob's, Cassidy's or Eamon Dorans (Radiohead played their first ever Irish gig there apparently).

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