It took just two days for Tom Irwin to fall for Dublin's charms
Like a pint of its famous Guinness, Dublin has depth, flavour, and a bit of froth on top.
Packed with history and culture to soak up during the daylight hours, the Irish capital comes alive at dusk with the nightlife that has made the Dublin ‘craic’ famous the world over.
First-time visitors aren’t your only target for a Dublin weekend this year. The Gathering 2013 is a year-long initiative from Tourism Ireland that aims to attract back some of the 70 million people worldwide who claim they have Irish ancestry, so any clients with Irish blood should be tempted to book.
Find out more about clan gatherings, festivals, sporting events and concerts at thegatheringireland.com.
09:00: Start at Ireland’s oldest university, Trinity College, where the Book of Kells is the highlight. An ornate tome, it was created by Celtic monks in about 800AD and is regarded as one of the finest historical manuscripts in the world. Don’t miss the Long Room in the Old Library – it may have one of the all time most unimaginative names, but it’s magnificent.
11:00: With Ireland currently holding the EU presidency, Dublin Castle is pretty much out of bounds to the public until June 30, but fortunately the Chester Beatty Library next door is still open (cbl.ie). A collection of manuscripts, books and other items, it’s home to one of the most important collections of East Asian and Islamic artefacts worldwide, and it’s free to visit.
12:30: After all that history you’ll probably need a drink, and that drink should definitely be a Guinness. Stop off for a swift pint of the black stuff at Peter’s Pub (peterspub.ie). A quiet retreat from the tourist bustle of Grafton Street, it’s a good old-fashioned establishment with a genuine, warm atmosphere.
13:00: Head for lunch at the Avoca cafe on Suffolk Street (avoca.ie). It’s extremely popular with locals and visitors so be prepared for a possible wait. The fish pie is delicious, while the seriously peckish should try the huge organic beefburger. The shop downstairs was voted one of the 100 best outside London by British Vogue and it’s well worth a snoop around.
15:30: No visit to Dublin would be complete without a trip to the legendary Guinness Storehouse where you can find out everything you’d ever need to know about the world-famous stout (guinness-storehouse.com). Entry includes a pint at the Gravity bar on the seventh floor, which boasts a 360-degree view of the city.
18:30: Saunter back along Dublin’s river, the Liffey, soaking up the atmosphere on your way to Temple Bar. Drinking on an empty stomach is never a good idea, so head to the Mongolian Barbeque for a quick bite – it’s hardly authentically Irish, but it’s tasty and fun (mongolianbbq.ie). Choose your meat and veg, add your own choice of spices and sauces then hand your selection to the restaurant’s grillers who will cook your selection in front of you.
21:30: The Temple Bar drinking district has an international reputation for rowdy revelry. The Porterhouse on Parliament Street has a selection of beers and live music every night, and the area around William Street South also contains some great drinking holes, including The Old Stand on Exchequer Street and Grogan’s, which attracts tourists and locals.
08:30: Head to Bewley’s Grafton Street Cafe, a Dublin institution offering a cracking full Irish breakfast along with plenty of other options (bewleys.com).
10:00: Get back to nature with a walk around the National Botanical Gardens – it’s easily reached by bus from the centre of the city. Alternatively, rugby fans should check out the Aviva Stadium, which offers a well-regarded tour with informative guides (avivastadium.ie).
12:00: Glasnevin Cemetery might sound like an odd attraction, but it’s one of the city’s highlights thanks to its guided tours, which give a fascinating insight into the men and women resting in the cemetery who helped to shape Ireland’s history (glasnevintrust.ie).
13:00: Head to Dawson Street for lunch at the quirky and charming Cafe En Seine – there’s no clue from outside as to the opulent decor within (cafeenseine.ie).
14:00: Walk off lunch in nearby Saint Stephen’s Green, where you’ll find a bust of James Joyce and a rather unique garden for the blind, which contains scented plants that are labelled in Braille.
15:00: The free National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology is full of fascinating artefacts. The quality of the craftsmanship is astounding and it’s easy to lose yourself in the huge amount of history contained in the collection (museum.ie).
18:00: Enjoy an evening stroll along O’Connell Street, Dublin’s main thoroughfare. Often centre stage throughout the city’s history, it is used as the main route of the annual St. Patrick’s Day Parade and features several statues and artworks.
19:00: Those with stamina can start their second tour of the Dublin pub scene, but for a more refined experience try the National Concert Hall where you’ll find classical and popular music performances and opera (nch.ie).
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