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.
That’s why we’ll be bringing you the best alternative first dates in Dublin, and this week we’ve decided to start at an ex-home for retired soldiers, The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).
Opened in May ’91, IMMA is Ireland’s leading contemporary art museum with works from both Irish and international artists.
Unless you or your accomplice have a lot to say on contemporary art, then it’s probably best to go with a guided tour (IMMA offer free public tours on Wednesday, Saturday and Sunday). These tours tend to be short and should give you something to talk about – preferably over coffee – afterwards.
If you miss the tour and find you’re suddenly overcome with shyness, then stick to the exhibition space rather than rambling towards Kilmainham and panicking that there’s no easy escape (unless you run).
IMMA’s got you covered: Heuston Luas is five minutes away; there’s a Dublin Bikes dock at the entrance; plenty of buses, while Smithfield and Stonybatter are a mere 10-minute walk away.
Scene and be seen
If you’re an art history grad then sure, you might see someone you know. If you or your pals live locally, then maybe you’ll spot them rambling around on a sunny day. But mostly IMMA’s a quiet, easygoing place with plenty to see and do.
If you’ve enjoyed nerding out over Patrick Ireland’s headstone (FYI, Patrick Ireland isn’t dead. Well, Patrick Ireland – the name Brian O’Doherty assumed in 1972 and relinquished in 2008 is dead but Brian O’Doherty’s lives – complicated, we know), there's plenty more to do.
If you plan on staying locally there’s an ITSA Bagel in the basement, opposite the main gallery; the 18th-Century garden around the side (where Patrick Ireland rests); a straight pathway that runs to the South Circular Road (if you’re inclined towards a leisurely stroll); and plenty of pubs and coffee places nearby.
If none of this grab you, then ramble towards Smithfield or catch the Luas into town.
While we’re big advocates of the pre-date Wiki summation, we understand that IMMA’s collection is wildly modern, while their website’s perhaps not as up-to-date as it could be. So here are some names you’ll definitely come across, with a really quick line on each.
Michael Warren, Beneath the ‘Bow
You’ll see this one as you make your way up the hill. Wexford-born Warren has created site-specific pieces all over the world in materials like wood, steel, concrete and stone. The sculptor’s highly controlled forms explore opposites - lightness conveyed by weight – while highlighting a preoccupation with wild wood, disciplined by the artist’s hand.
A Dublin-born artist influenced by Pop Art and motivated by social and political issues, Ballagh began his ‘People at an Exhibition’ series in 1972. This series captures people looking at paintings by international artists (in this case Frank Stella).
Gerda Frömel (temporary exhibition)
Chiefly a sculptor, Fromel’s name has lapsed from familiarity to obscurity since her death. This temporary exhibition, which runs until July, allows visitors to engage and discover with one of Ireland’s modern masters.
Pilgrims coming from Heuston Luas direction will encounter a steep hill followed by tarmac, stone and potentially grass, so strappy heels are out. Both rain macs and umbrellas are useful ammunition if the sky appears queasy, while layers are useful if you plan to zip between the gallery and grounds.
This is a great option if you’re short for money: entry is free throughout the week and guided tours (also free) are provided on Saturdays and Sundays at 2.30pm (normally running thirty minutes).
A second date, obviously.
A tweet along the lines of, “My date brought me a grave, in a museum, for an artist who’s still alive?!’.