While the mechanics of Irish dating tend to pivot around drinks and more drinks, the opportunity to experience someone’s company in both sobriety and sunlight has its perks. What to do in alcohol’s absence, however, is the ultimate quandary.
This week, warm weather rumours have started to surface and we thought, ‘where could Dubliners go this weekend that allows them to enjoy the sun while hiding from any unexpected showers?’ And we realised the answer lay in an 800-year-old castle, the site of which gives Dublin its name...
First date nerves come with the territory, so you don’t want to exacerbate that feeling by mincing over the details of what you’ll do. Dublin Castle, just off Dame Street, is diverse enough to waste a full day but relaxing enough to coast through in less than an hour.
If you catch yourself feeling anxious then explore the grounds before visiting the Chester Beatty Library (free). The Beatty tends to be quiet and certain rooms are very dark (the items are centuries-old after all), which may not be conducive to introductory chitchat. The Garda Museum and Revenue Museum are also an option (both free) while the grounds around the castle are sprawling enough that you can wander and chat inanely without feeling self-conscious.
Also, lunch in the Beatty café is always a must.
Scene and be seen
Admittedly, this is the type of place you could easily run into someone you know. Consider the castle’s proximity to all the major thoroughfares, and then consider how luring the castle garden is on a summer’s day. But hey, true love means taking risks, and risks involve running into nosy acquaintance whose voice goes an octave higher as they goad you for good gossip.
So you’re 20 minutes in and you just know that this is going absolutely nowhere – but that’s okay. You could see it through to the end and give your co-conspirator fond if futile memories, or you could just abandon ship and leg it down to the quays.
Not only is this a great place to stage a disappearing act on a bus, bike or Luas, you can easily slip into a café and have a TV moment hiding behind a newspaper (we don’t advocate this but it’s still an option – just don't cut eyeholes in the paper, because that's not nearly as inconspicuous as you think it is).
Ooooh. So things are looking up and you’re in a position to see it through? Good for you.
And better still, you picked a great place. Fallon & Byrne is very nearby, there’s a Bewleys on George’s Street and the Tea Garden in Temple Bar is a nice choice. If alcohol’s your poison, well, you’ve your pick of the town.
If you’re committed to being the knowledgeable one, then scan this page on the Dublin Castle website which is remarkably thorough. If not, it’s probably worth knowing at the very least that Dublin gets its name from the Dubh Linn (Black Pool) on the site of the present Coach House and Castle Gardens.
In this instance you’re spoiled: not only is it simple to get to but you can also wear anything you want. If you plan to go inside to the Chester Beatty be mindful that backpacks are not allowed within the exhibition space. And if you decide to go with one anyway, remember to store it in one of the downstairs lockers (you’ll need a euro coin).
Unless you opt for a private guided tour of the State Apartments and Medieval Undercroft (€8.50 for adults; €6.50 for students), Dublin Castle’s grounds and museums are free, so there’s no reason to feel shortchanged if things don’t work out.
Steal a kiss at the Dubh Linn Gardens (which doubles up as a helicopter landing site).
Fail to notice the path running through the Dubh Linn Gardens and topple over into damp, cold grass. Alternatively, a helicopter lands causing an unnecessary Marilyn moment mid-May.
Or worse again, you could forever be known as the guy/girl who took someone to a tax museum on a first date.