As many of you know I just finished a trip to Ireland, I thought I would write a story on just Dublin, I hope you enjoy.
Dublin is a great city to start your tour of Ireland. The city is small enough that you will not feel overwhelmed as can happen in larger European cities like Paris and London, but it is large enough to offer great museums, restaurants, shopping and plenty of sight seeing.
Dublin is easily reached from most East Coast US gateway cities and the Irish national carrier Aer Lingus flies to Dublin from Chicago, Boston, New York and Orlando.
Ireland is an island comprised of two countries, the independent Republic of Ireland and British controlled Northern Ireland. Dublin is located in the Republic of Ireland, a member of the European Union, the Euro is the official form of currency and the metric system is used. The citizens of the Republic of Ireland are very proud of their independence from England. A visitor should never mistake the Irish Republic for their northern neighbors.
Dublin is located on the east coast and straddles Dublin Bay, a busy commercial port and passenger ferry hub with connections to France, and England. The city is split in two by the River Liffey, you find most of the hotels, shopping, dining and nightlife located on the south side of the river.
Where to stay
There are plenty of hotels and inns in the city to choose from, a couple of my favorites are:
The Four Seasons Dublin – located several miles outside of the downtown core in a quiet neighborhood. The hotel is a great place to return to after a day of exploring. There are several fine restaurants within walking distance of the hotel, one of my favorites is Rolys Bistro, about 5 minutes from the hotel.
The Merrion Hotel – located downtown opposite the government buildings this hotel was created by the combination of 4 Georgian Townhouses. The hotel has an impressive collection of art on display, I highly recommend touring the collection even if you are not staying at the hotel. Downstairs you will find a pool, something rare in Dublin, and a great cellar bar and restaurant. The hotel built a new wing in addition to the townhouses, be sure to specify where you want your room located when making a reservation.
The Dylan – just a quick walk from downtown on a quiet street the Dylan is a contemporary hotel in a Victorian building. Sleek and modern combines nicely with the Victorian architecture, and at night the hotel has a very popular indoor and outdoor lounge.
What to do
Old Library at Trinity College & Book of Kells – The Book of Kells is celebrated for its lavish decoration. The manuscript contains the four Gospels written in Latin and is believed to have been written around 800 AD in a monastery off the coast of Scottland. It has been on display in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin from the mid 19th century, and attracts over 500,000 visitors a year. Since 1953 it has been bound in four volumes. Two volumes are on public view, one opened to display a major decorated page, and one to show two pages of script. The volumes are changed at regular intervals.
St Patrick’s Cathedral - Built in honor of Ireland’s patron saint, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where tradition has it Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin. A church was built on this site in 1191 and in 1991 we celebrated 800 years of worship. The present building dates from 1220. The Cathedral is today the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland (Anglican).
Jonathan Swift of "Gulliver" fame was dean of and is buried in the cathedral.
Dublin Castle – The castle was originally built in the 13th century, although nearly all of the medieval portions have been lost except for one tower. Until 1922 the castle was the seat of British rule in Ireland. The castle now serves as a tourist attraction and while not as grand as some old ruins you will see in the countryside it is worth a stop.
Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane – The Hugh Lane is a small museum with a nice collection of modern contemporary Irish artists. The most interesting thing to see in the museum isn't really a piece of art, it's Francis Bacon's art studio preserved just as it was when he died in 1992. The room was moved intact from London to the museum in Dublin. The room is a disaster; paint cans and brushes, newspapers, boxes and junk line the walls and cover the floor. There is just a small space for the artist to stand and paint; it's a wonder how he was able to create anything out of this space. Admission is free.
The National Gallery of Ireland – Home to a collection of Irish and European art, the gallery is located in the center of Dublin just of Merrion Square. Founded in 1854 and containing 14,000 works of art, the gallery is known for its collection of Italian Baroque and Dutch Masters paintings.
Guinness Storehouse – The Guinness Storehouse is located in the heart of the St. James's Gate Brewery in Dublin, and is, according to the Guinness Storehouse Website "Ireland’s No. 1 international visitor attraction." Guests spend time exploring seven floors dedicated to the Guinness Beer story, from the ingredients of the beer, to its founder and finally the advertising and marketing of Guinness Beer over the years. On the seventh you can visit the Gravity Bar, have a pint of Guinness and admire the great views.
The Temple Bar – This area of Dublin is named after a sand bar, not a drinking bar, although today it is more known for its pubs and restaurants than it is for sand. The area covers several city blocks and is a great place to go if you want a pint of your favorite Irish Beer and some great Fish and Chips. The area can get quite crowded with both locals and tourists, especially on weekend nights, so be prepared for a loud and boisterous evening.
For shopping head to Grafton Street between St. Stephen's Green and Trinity College, recently declared an Architectural Conservation Zone, this area is full of great shopping.
If you are lucky the local band known around the world U2 will be performing at the O2 stadium where they recently sold out three stadium performances.
Things to know
Do not rent a car for your stay in Dublin, use public transportation or taxis while you are in the city. If your trip will take you outside of Dublin wait until you are ready to leave the city before picking up your car. Most rental agencies have locations on the outer rim of the city. It is much easier to pick your car up outside of the downtown core, where old narrow streets can be a nightmare to navigate. The Irish drive on the left hand side of the road and the driver sits in the right hand side of the car, opposite the way we are used to driving. It takes a few minutes to get used to this driving position. I recommend renting an automatic transmission, no need to learn how to shift with your left hand, and a GPS system is a must. Be prepared for very narrow roads when you are not driving on the main motorways. Be sure to bring an international translation of your drivers license, you can pick one up at your local AAA office.
Dublin averages around 2 inches of rain each month of the year. The temperatures are very mild, both in the winter and the summer. The best month’s to visit are May to September, where the average highs will be somewhere in the 60’s. If cooler temperatures and fewer tourists are more to your liking a visit in the shoulder month’s of March and April and October and November can be quite nice, with daytime temperatures averaging in the mid to upper 40’s and low 50’s.
Voltage is 220v AC 50hz, most all American appliances will require a transformer, adapter, or converter to operate properly. Check with the manufacturer of your appliance to see which one you will need.
Be sure to notify your credit card companies and your cell phone carrier before you travel outside of the US.
A passport with an expiration date at least 6 month’s ahead of your scheduled return date is required for entry into the Republic of Ireland. US citizens do not need a tourist visa for entry.