What’s unique about Dublin? Tourists may flock to Trinity College and the Guinness Storehouse, but we all know the things that make this city stand apart can’t be found in a guidebook. From Copper’s to coddle, Adam & Paul to Fair City (and come to think of it, those crap toasties at Grogan’s), there’s no end of originals to be found in the capital. We’ve kick-stared the conversation with a list of 10. What are we leaving out?
We’re talking genuine, seaside gems – not makey-uppy urban projects jumping on the sand-wagon. We have them. Vienna doesn’t. Nor does Brussels. Or Prague. A short Dart ride whisks you south to Sandycove and White Rock, or north to Dollymount or the Velvet Strand. Welcome to one of the best city coastlines in Europe… if only we could roof it etc.
2) Teddy’s Ice-Cream
It’s the worst-kept secret in Dun Laoghaire, but if there’s a simpler summer pleasure than the 99 from this Holy Hatch, we’d like to hear it.
Pick your way through the arts students and salty-tongued traders of The Liberties, and you’ll find this masterpiece on Meath Street. Stashed behind St. Catherine’s Church is a grotto, with tickets sold at the little shop alongside it for a weekly lotto. Hence: the Grotto Lotto. Genius!
4) Notorious Nicknames
A mosey across the Rosie. The prick with the stick. The hags with the bags. The stiletto in the ghetto. Munich and Milan may have the same population as Dublin (roughly 1.2 million), but they have nothing on us when it comes to slapping rhymes on public art and infrastructure.
5) Come Here to Me
If you haven’t visited this excellent group blog, then drop whatever you are doing and do so immediately. Focusing on the life and culture of Dublin City, its posts and pictures range from history to football, politics and pub-crawls, and are always witty, well-written and excellently researched. Sample Post: ‘A Brief Look at Dublin’s WW11 Air Raid Shelters’. Do it.
6) St. Valentine
Yes, THE St. Valentine. As the story goes, his relics were gifted to an Irish Carmelite by Pope Gregory XVI, made their way to Dublin, and are currently sealed within a casket inside the Whitefriar Street Church. The reliquary can be seen within a shrine to the saint, and is removed every February 14th for a ceremony that involves a blessing of rings. Take that, Rome!
7) Chipper Chips
You know you want to.
8) Capel Street
Every city has amazing streets. But not even the best of Barcelona or Berlin compares to the ramshackle wackiness of Capel Street. If Georgian Psychedelic were an architectural style, this would be its fullest expression – the furniture stores, the sex shops, the hip new cafes and bars (Black Sheep, Brother Hubbard, Musashi), the century-old pawn and tool stores. Oh yes, and Louis Copeland. What a raw and beautiful ruin it is.
Only the Camp Nou, Wembley and the Bernabeu can hold more people. They’re devoted to soccer, however – a sport with bazillions of fans. Croke Park’s bread and butter are hurling and Gaelic football, games that are barely known beyond this island, yet is boasts a capacity of 82,300 (plus one John 3:7 sign). Fill the flask, wrap the sambos in tin foil and get up there for the summer championships. There’s nothing like it.
10) The Insults
The smell of hops. Bernard Brogan. That ‘Why Go Bald’ sign. Lots of things are quintessentially Dublin, but none is quite as lasting – nor as difficult to explain to outsiders – as the indigenous genius for insults (a face like a constipated greyhound, ya bollix, a fart of a fella etc.). They’re terms of endearment, right? Erm, right?