Monday, July 5, 2010

Baile Átha Cliath: Dublin

The first city I ever visited in Europe, Dublin holds a special place in my heart. I went on an AFS school trip there in summer 2002, and spent a few days each in Dublin, Bath, and London with my best friend Shelby. My first trip abroad, and my second without my parents, it was quite the experience, and we had a lot of fun. I went again while studying at Oxford, spending a weekend in the city with friends at Trinity, and while the trip was completely different the second time around, it was also fantastic.

I've never had a chance to go further into Ireland than just outside of the city limits, and since I've only ever spent a few days in the city at the time, my experience there is fairly superficial, but my parents are going on a ten-day road trip around the island next week, so I thought I'd make a brief list of some of my favorite things to do in the city.

  • Dublin Writers Museum: Ireland, despite being a small nation, has an incredibly rich literary history. Being an enormous literature buff and a poet, I'm fascinated by how Ireland managed to create (if not always foster) so many incredible writers. This museum houses the most wonderful literary ephemera, including Samuel Beckett's telephone and James Joyce's glasses. I want one of these to open in New York. Right now. (18 Parnell Square, 7.50 - but there's usually a BOGO coupon on the website, so try to find that before you go)
  • Trinity College Dublin: Kind of the first college I ever visited, and one with an awesome prospectus, I sort of assumed I'd end up going to school here. That didn't happen, but it is an amazing institution with one of the most beautiful libraries in the world. While you're in the library, make sure to check out the Book of Kells, an illuminated manuscript from around 800 CE. Two of the four volumes of the book are always on display, one showing a heavily illustrated page and the other showing a page of script. And in case you're wondering what you're "reading," it's the four gospels of the New Testament and some other stuff. (2 College Green, free)
  • Gallagher's Boxty House: We learned about Gallagher's from Samantha Brown, who is totally crazy but usually has good suggestions. The boxty is a traditional potato dish, made into pancakes or dumplings, and since my favorite thing in the world is the dumpling (and carbs in general), I was really, really pleased with this, and thinking on it is making me want one right now. I can't remember which one I got while we were there, but looking over the menu now, the Gaelic Boxty looks really good. They also had very nice brown bread and butter while we were there. It's also located in Dublin's main tourist strip, which makes for a fun walk around. (20-21 Temple Bar, 12.95-16.95)
  • Guinness Storehouse: The first brewery tour I ever went on, the Guinness Storehouse is probably the ultimate one. An enormous factory with displays on every part of beer-making, the storehouse also has a fantastic section on old Guinness advertisements (think toucans and "Guinness is good for you") and a collection of every style of bottle made. The admission fee seems a bit high, but you get two tastings along the way, along with a pint to enjoy in the skybar, which has a wonderful view of the city, and a clear-rock-paperweight-thing-with-a-coin-in-it to take home. And if you like Guinness, which I don't really, the ultimate place to try it is Dublin, because it changes slightly in any sort of transport, and tasting it in its truest form is awesome. I haven't visited the Jameson Factory, but I've heard that's also pretty cool. (121 James's Street, 15.00 - but you get 10% off if you book online)
  • Christ Church Cathedral: Although St. Patrick's Cathedral is also great and houses the body of Jonathan Swift, the incredible crypt below Christ Church puts it on my list of favorites. The oldest structure in Dublin, you can actually host your wedding or conference in it, in addition to visiting. (Christchurch Place, 6.00)
You'll notice there aren't any pubs on here. I haven't been to many in Dublin, and can't remember the name of the only one I actually enjoyed (which was technically not in Dublin anyway). There are also about a million things to do in Dublin that aren't on this list. If you have any suggestions, feel free to share!


  1. My kind (and extremely well-traveled) friend Stephen gave the following suggestion via facebook:

    Mulligan's Pub, right down Tara from the Irish Times, serves a good pint, supposedly the "perfect pint." It is right down from the corner of Poobeg and Tara. It's a nice place to kill some time. Also, the Jameson Distillery tour is very nice.

    Thanks, Stephen!

  2. I've been to Dublin a few times, spread out over 35 years. There are so many unexpected pleasures. Or maybe I mean there were. I'm not sure Bewley's is still around. I loved going there to drink dark coffee. And to McDaids pub, on tiny Harry Street (just off Grafton Street) where you'd swear that everyone you'd ever hoped for would be there, even though most of them had been dead for decades. Patrick Kavanagh, Sean O'Casey... And in a way they were there, in the haze of smoke and Guinness fumes. Also the Brazen Head. And all the places you've mentioned.