As I probably mentioned in my previous post, Dublin is a city I hold dear. It was the first place I traveled to as a teenager, abroad and all by myself, and I had been there three times already before this last visit for New Year’s Eve.
It is hard to believe the troubles this Country went through for being of such young age and nevertheless being warmly welcomed by its people, inevitably making you completely immersed into a vibrant, fun and fascinating atmosphere. What a powerful revenge!
Dublin has been entitled as a UNESCO City of Literature: it is the motherland of nonetheless 4 Nobel Prize winners: William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw and Seamus Heaney - not to mention the paramount figure of James Joyce, one of my favorite authors of all time.
I do consider myself as a little bookworm, and I love learning more about the countries I am going to visit/live in by local authors or novels set in those places. Therefore I really want to recommend two readings that I consider essential to fully immerse yourselves in the overall city vibe: Dubliners and -if you have a bit more time to spare- Ulysses, of course both by James Joyce.
Transport and accommodation
This time I spent 5 days and 4 nights in Dublin, and always moved around on foot: it is not a huge city and you can definitely reach the majority of your destinations by having a good walk. Of course, local buses and trams are available all around the city, and you can also use the local train called DART if you want to reach the outskirts or for a day-trip (more about it on an upcoming post!).
As always, I definitely recommend booking a room or an apartment, so you can fully immerse yourself in the local ambience - and save a bit of money by being able to cook your own meals when you feel like!
This time around, as I was with other 9 people, I stayed at an AirBnb called City Centre - Modern- IFSC Apartment, located on the docks and in the middle of the newest financial district: top position and super nice apartment!
Whether you are only spending a few days in Dublin, or a good week or so, the following places are, in my opinion, the top things you definitely should not miss to get a grasp of how amazing this city is. Of course, there are plenty more locations to check out - but the ones below really got my interest - and some of them, even my heart. And I am sure you are going to love them, too!
Culture: Trinity College
Trinity College of Dublin was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I and is one of the oldest institutes of Ireland. Despite being located in the very city center (College Green), it is able to maintain a calm and peaceful environment thanks to its compact buildings structure looking inwards and surrounding the campus. It hosts the faculties of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences; Engineering, Mathematics and Sciences; and Health Sciences. It is also famous for its huge Library, composed of several buildings - with the Old Library containing the renowned Long Room: this magnificent work of art houses 200,000 of the Library's oldest books; it preserves one of the last remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic; and it permanently displays the Brian Boru harp, dating back to the 15th century. Another not-so-hidden gem that deserves a visit is, of course, the Book of Kells: an incredibly fully decorated manuscript Gospel book in Latin, presumably created around the 800 AD by various Columban institutions from both Britain and Ireland. It is considered a pillar of Western literature and culture, as well as Ireland’s national treasure.
Nature: St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green is a beautiful green lung that serves an excellent escape from the cute but touristy Grafton Street. It has a rectangular shape, its four sides are defined by famous buildings and it also hides a handful of busts and statues representing historical leaders or national literature exponents: a fountain representing the Three Fates; the Yeats memorial garden; James Joyce’s bust… This garden is super fun and recharging on a sunny day, as well as poetic and calming under a grey winter sky.
Tradition: EPIC Museum
EPIC is an incredible surprise that you absolutely have to check out. It was my first time there and I was mesmerized by the accuracy and love for details that they placed in this museum. It is located in The CHQ Building on Custom House Quay. At the entrance, you will be given a map designed as a passport, which you will have to stamp at any room, and it will accompany you to a journey aimed at recreating the struggling and troubled history of Ireland. You will feel touched, powerless and astonished in learning about what this population went through (famine, emigration, civil war) but how strongly it was able to maintain its roots and traditions, transplanting it all over the world (literally!) and making the whole world fall in love with them. So yes, it is an entirely digital and interactive museum, and it is a true journey. Totally totally recommend it!
History: Kilmainham Gaol
Kilmainham Gaol is a former prison now turned into a museum. This place saw the imprisonment and execution of many Irish revolutionaries and politicians like Robert Emmet, James Connolly, Eamon de Valera, Joseph Plunkett… One of the symbols of the prison is undoubtedly Grace Plunkett’s cell, which she painted during her incarceration - what stands out is the representation of the Blessed Virgin and the Christ Child. You may recall the main prison hall as it has been used as the setting of many famous movies, among which: In the Name of the Father, 1993; Michael Collins, 1996; The Wind That Shakes the Barley, 2006. I have visited this site three times already, and it never fails to give me shivers and - again - so much respect for all the Irish people went through in their history.
Pop: Guinness Storehouse
Let’s be real - a trip to Ireland would not be complete without a taste (or two…) of its masterpiece Guinness stout! This is 100% a tourist attraction, but you can definitely have some fun by learning some trivia about the brewing process or how some of the most famous advertisement illustrations were born. Also, the entry ticket gives you the possibility to a) learn the techniques of how to taste-test a Guinness and b) craft your own pint yourself! Now, I had been to the Storehouse already all the previous times I visited Dublin, but I was always underaged so this was never an option for me: this time I did it and I enjoyed it a lot! Of course, if you do not feel like crafting your own pint, you can walk up to the top floor and order it at the bar - either way, you can enjoy the amazing city view from the Gravity Bar while sipping your dark masterpiece.
So this is it for now. Signing off, I wish I was able to spark a least some interest towards this precious city in the Emerald Isle ☘️