If you are planning a trip to Dublin's fair city this year, here are some spots to keep in mind
A lot of Dubliners will tell you with a laugh and a wink, that they don't know why visitors come here. There must be something in the indelible charm of the place that causes visitors to overlook the rain, the high prices and the lack of public transport links. Perhaps it's just that, we are well aware of our faults, we wear them with pride and brandish them like a child who has just scuffed its knees. Whatever it is, thankfully the visitors keep coming, and if you are planning a visit to Dublin soon here are some spots that are worth keeping in mind:
7. Chester Beatty
Dublin Castle, free in
While Dublin Castle was voted one of the most disappointing tourist destinations in Europe, nestled in the castle complex is The Chester Beatty, which has one of the best collections of rare and antique Asian manuscripts and treasures in the world. Set over a couple of floors, no visit to the library is the same with the collection constantly swapped in and out. Similar to The Morgan in New York- the collection was built up by a philanthropic rich man- mining magnate, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty- and unlike its NY counterpart- The Chester Beatty is free in!
6. Phoenix Park
Dublin 8, free in
Sometimes called The Park or the Pheno by locals- it's the largest enclosed public parks in any capital city in Europe (more than 700 hectares). It houses amongst other things, Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin (the President's gaff) and a herd of fallow deer- which you are not to feed or approach. Given its size, one of the best ways to see the park is by hopping on a bike and cycling around it- there's also the longest pub in Europe which is well worth a visit through the hole in the Park's wall:
5. Glasnevin Cemetery
Glasnevin, free in (pay for tours)
Might be a bit morbid for some, but Dubliners have a special fondness for Glasnevin. The resting place of some of the country's brightest minds, greatest leaders and home to some of the saddest parts of our collective history. You'll find the final resting place of names like Michael Collins, Charles Stewart Parnell, Daniel O'Connell, Roger Casement, Constance Markievicz, James Larkin, Brendan Behan, Christy Brown and Luke Kelly to name a few. If you get sick of looking at graves, there's the wonderful Botanic Gardens across the way, home to the beautifully restored Victorian glasshouses. When you get thirsty there's one of the best Dublin boozers set into the walls of Glasnevin- The Gravediggers so named because grave diggers used to frequent the place after a hard night digging.
3. Guinness Storehouse
Dublin 8's St. James's Gate, for ticketing info click here
Definitely, one of the city's most-visited tourist destinations- just last year 1.1 million people visited- so booking is advised. To an outsider, the importance of Guinness in the city may seem a little clichéd, but from the pints we order to the stories we tell or the history we share its importance is not to be underestimated. The Storehouse does an incredible job of reflecting this and demonstrating the delicate weave that Guinness has had on the city's history. Alongside the historical aspect, there are also interactive aspects of the products and processes that go into a pint of plain alongside the incredible advertising endeavours they've deployed over the years. To top the visit off, the 360 view from Gravity Bar on top of the Storehouse has to be one of the best in the city.
2. Kilmainham Jail
Kilmainham's Inchicore Road, for ticketing info click here
From its opening in 1796 as the new county gaol for county Dublin, and until its closure in 1924, Kilmainham Jail has witnessed some of the heroic and tragic events in Irish history. The leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867 and 1916 were held within its walls and in some cases executed there. Members of the Irish republican movement during the War of Independence and the Civil War will forever be associated with the place. It's a place of supreme importance for Irish people, a site where we remember the struggles fought and the lives that were lost during Ireland’s emergence as a modern nation. The gaol is now a major museum, with a full tour that takes in everything from the 1916 corridor, the stonebreakers' yard and a walk around the East Wing.
- 14 Henrietta Street
Dublin 1's 14 Henrietta Street, for ticketing info click here
This relatively new museum is hands down one of the best museums I've ever been to (in any city). Set in an incredibly well-preserved part of Georgian Dublin, in this unassuming house you can track 300 years of Dublin history. From the house's beginnings as a Georgian townhouse (reserved "for the quality" as Luke Kelly would say) to its eventual decline into a tenement dwelling. The brilliant guides bring you through room-by-room explaining the hidden histories of those that once called 14 Henrietta Street home.
Full disclosure I haven't been to every tourist destination in Dublin, but the ones above really impressed me as an inhabitant of the city.