Dates with Dublin – Places to See

When I came up with the idea of Dates with Dublin, my plan to get to really know the treasures of the city I live in, a couple of folk asked me to make a list of the suggestions I received, so they could check them out too.

Your wish is my command *takes deep breath*

I’ve received so many suggestions since I started this blog, thanks to everyone who left a comment or sent me a tweet with a suggestion. I’ve tried to add as many in as I can, with the result that the list is now out of control and needs to be categorised – a job for another day!  If you have any suggestions, remember I’m looking for more places that are a little off the beaten tourist track. Foodie recommendations welcome too! 

  • The Chester Beatty Library – this was suggested numerous times, and hadn’t really been on my radar. Described as “a nice contemplative space” and as a relaxing venue to pass a couple of hours, it sounds right up my street. And it has books. Well, at least I think it has. And a pretty decent café, if the rumours are to be believed.
  • Phoenix Park – it might sound obvious, but I’ve spent relatively little time in the Phoenix Park in my time here, and haven’t visited the Áras since I was 12. There are free tours of the Aras on Saturdays, incidentally, so I might stick my name down and re-aquaint myself with my old college buddy, Sabine. The Phoenix Park Visitor Centre is meant to be worth a nose too. And an afternoon on the bike hunting deer sounds like fun. (What do you mean, you’re not allowed to do that? )
  • The Blessington Basin – I had no idea this ever existed. At first glance, it looks like a reservoir. I can do reservoirs. On the list. And it has ducks. I like ducks. Can you hunt ducks? No…? Oh.
  • The Douglas Hyde Gallery – again, somewhere that hadn’t been on my radar. (I’m beginning to think that I’m vastly uncultured.)  It has paintings. I like paintings.
  • Tour of Leinster House. This had been on my radar. Ohh yes. In fact, I think I may just leave this one until I can be sure there are some TDs knocking around. You can definitely hunt TDs. Right?
  • The Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham – I live near this, but naturally, I didn’t know it existed either. It’s like I walk around all day with a blindfold on. Anyway, it sounds interesting – it’s the school Padraig Pearse used to run,  and it has lovely grounds so I’ll be paying it a visit too.
  • The Cake Café – this is a secret, magical, oasis-like place in the city centre that sells cake. Except it’s not so secret now that I’ve told you lot. Still, nobody reads this blog, so I don’t expect it’ll be overrun with new secret cake-oasis-seekers any time soon.
  • St Michan’s Church. Now this sounds DEADLY. It has over 1,000 years of history, it had stocks (which I am all for bringing back into use, preferably outside Leinster House during tour times) and there are crypts. With dead people. I like dead people. They don’t answer back or make false economic promises.
  • Glasnevin Cemetery. I’m aware that this list has taken a rather macabre turn, but I’m okay with that. Lots of really, really cool dead people hang out in Glasnevin Cemetery. It’s Ireland’s largest non-denominational cemetery with 1.5 million burials, and is officially known as Prospect Cemetery. You can touch Daniel O’Connell’s coffin while you’re there, and if that’s not the coolest thing to do in Dublin on a Thursday afternoon, I don’t know what is. Kavanagh’s Gravediggers pub nearby (if you can find it) apparently serves a top-notch pint. And good food. Anderson’s off Griffith Avenue is also apparently a good spot for nosh, I’m told by someone In The Know.
  • The National Botanic Gardens – a gorgeous free attraction which, incidentally, backs onto Glasnevin Cemetery, and as luck would have it, they’re after many years of debate, installing a path between the two. Immaculately kept all year, the beauty of the Gardens is that you can visit in every season and be assured of a different view. Be sure to check out the huge glasshouses – you’ll feel like you’re in the rainforest. And the cafe is lovely too.
  • Malahide Castle and Gardens – I’ve been here before, but never in the castle itself. The grounds are great though, with lots of woods and walks. Sadly, the Fry model railway museum has closed (if anyone has any update on this, that would be great. I like trains too). On the list to revisit.
  • The Hugh Lane Gallery. It houses works by  Louis le Brocquy, Jack B Yeats, Francis Bacon and Harry Clarke, among others. There’s nothing I love more than losing myself in an art gallery for an afternoon, so this is one I’m really looking forward to.
  • The National Archaeology Museum. The only thing more interesting than hanging out with dead people is hanging out with stuff dead people used to use. And there’s some super old-looking stuff here. A nice way to pass an afternoon. And it’s FREE, as are all the National Museums of Ireland – Collins Barracks in particular being worth a trip.
  • The National Library of Ireland. I want to visit here purely because I follow these guys on twitter and they sound like the nicest people in the universe. And as well as having lots of interesting stuff they have a cafe with food and talks and wine. I love it already.
  • The Science Gallery – “a venue where today’s white-hot scientific issues are thrashed out and you can have your say. A place where ideas meet and opinions collide” – don’t neutrons also collide, and stuff? (Or perhaps I’m in urgent need of a visit to educate myself.) This place sounds very exciting altogether and it’s also FREE to visit. Exhibitions change quite often though, so checking in advance is a must before travelling.
  • IMMA, or the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Having worked pretty much beside this for the last three months, the building and the gardens have been tantalisingly tempting me from the window.  I went to see Blur in the garden this week, and figure it’d be rude not the pay the amazing building a visit. This will be one of the first places on my list.
  • Somewhere I never knew existed, but somewhere I now can’t wait to see, is Casino Marino. I’m told it’s an architectural delight, and they’re another crew who seem to know how to work the social media thing, which always endears me, so this is somewhere I’ll be visiting sooner rather than later.
  • Since we’ve been lucky enough to live in relatively peaceful times, I’m not sure I know or appreciate nearly enough about the Irish people who fought in wars down the years, so I figure the Irish National War Memorial Gardens  is a good spot to learn a bit. Edywn Lutyens who designed it considered it a “glorious site”, so I’m sure I shall too.
  • The Gallery of Photography. While I’m pretty useless at taking photos myself, other people’s mesmerise me. I love seeing real life moments captured in one fleeting flash of immortality. Plus there’s an intriguing exhibition on called Uncertain State, which looks at how photographic artists are representing this austere, uncertain time in Ireland’s history. Nearby are the National Photographic Archives, also worth a look.
  • Speaking of Archives, the National Archives on Bishop Street, off Kevin Street sound intriguing – they hold the records of the modern Irish State “which document its historical evolution and the creation of our national identity”. History there on paper in front of your eyes. There’s also a genealogy service.
  • If print is your thing, you might enjoy the National Print Museum. Particularly if you’re a heavy user of digital, like myself. I love the look of the building too. And I like fonts.
  • For a rainy afternoon, there are two great cinema experiences in the city centre. The Irish Film Institute (IFI) provides audiences with access to the finest independent, Irish and international cinema. And – bonus – they serve food, and it’s great. And they serve beer. The Lighthouse Cinema  is a specialist, art house cinema committed to programming the best Irish and international films, and it too is a great space, with its own bar.
  • Living the Lockout – the Dublin Tenement Experience was recommended by a friend. An event to commemorate the centenary of the 1913 Lockout, it  aims to give you “a rare opportunity to see inside an undisturbed tenement property and get a taste of life 100 years ago in Dublin”. It’s not suitable for children, which suggests it could pack a punch or two. It’s also very reasonably priced, and is finishing its run on 31st August.
  • Outdoorsy stuff – I’ve been told I need to head out to Howth for a day and climb to Howth Head, and afterwards stuff my face in one (or more) of the great seafood restaurants out there. Fortunately I’ve already done this numerous times, but if you haven’t, you should. The Bloody Stream is a great spot for pub grub and I believe if you’re on a budget, the Doghouse Café opposite is BYO.
  • More outdoorsy stuff – the Irish Canoe Union do lessons during the summer months, in the Strawberry Beds, Lucan and on the Liffey. If you like to paddle your own canoe and discover you have an aptitude, The Liffey Descent may even lie in your future.
  • One place I do intend to take a trip out to Howth for is the Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio (what a great name!). Based in Howth’s Martello Tower (North #2!), they museum exhibits radios and gramophones from the early 1900’s to present day, They’re also on twitter where they form a great double act with the James Joyce Tower in Sandycove, another place on my list. Tower rivalry FTW!
  • I didn’t include Kilmainham Gaol on my list originally, purely because I’ve been there twice myself, but if you haven’t been it’s a truly memorable experience that won’t leave you in a hurry. Access by guided tour only – get there early; it’s worth it and it will leave its mark.
  •  For over 1,000 years of history, go visit Christ Church Cathedral and environs. Say hello to Strongbow, and learn about the Vikings in nearby Dublinia. Christ Church is really awesome – and if you can get in there for one of the recitals, do.
  • Rathfarnham Castle, the Dublin Mountains, especially the Hellfire Club and Massey’s Forest, and the bottle tower near Nutgrove.
  • St. Anne’s Park over in Raheny has been mentioned to me, by virtue of its award-winning rose garden.
  • The Sunday Market in the People’s Park in Dun Laoghaire is a gem, and having tried the falafel, I can vouch for this.

Tours and guides

  • I’m told that Ingenious Ireland go great guides – I haven’t checked them out but they claim on their website to celebrate Irish inventions & discoveries, with really interesting Dublin guided tours, talks, downloads & e-book.

This is just a short list of things that have been suggested to me to see, but of course there are many more and I’m trying to update this weekly.  Again, if you have suggestions, please pop them in the comments below and I’ll add them in – this is a work in progress!

9 thoughts on “Dates with Dublin – Places to See

  1. Dia dhuit a Cailín Rua. 🙂

    Here’s a couple of things to consider doing in Dublin

    Teddy’s Icecream in Dun Laoghaire.
    A walk around Howth. There is the odd historical site around.
    Kilmainham Jail.
    Botanic Gardens.
    Dublin Zoo.
    St. Anne’s Park
    Bull Island

    That is all I can think of at the moment. Whatever you do, enjoy it!

  2. Go raibh maith agat, a Dhulach agus fáilte romhat!
    Thank you muchly for those – Bull Island and St. Anne’s Park are places haven’t visited already. I have a feeling there’s a busy few weeks in store!

  3. I received a rather lengthy email from my cousin Keith earlier with the below – wow! Thanks, cous!

    Hey Cailín Rua!

    That’s an excellent list that you’ve compiled. You will definitely enjoy visiting a whole lot of those places….

    One very notable omission from your list (although I see it has just been suggested in a comment) is Kilmainham Gaol. This is an absolute must-see for anybody with any semblance of interest in Irish history. Particularly now that we are less that a year shy of the centenary of the 1916 rising… Forget any memories you might have of the place from school tours or the likes – go back now when you are actually in a position to appreciate both the significance and the history of the place… Here’s my TripAdvisor review on it:

    You did mention the IMMA. It’s easily combined with a visit to Kilmainham. My review is here:

    The Casio Marino is also a must-see. I’ve been numerous times. It’s little known, and IMO qualifies as one of Dublin’s best kept secrets. My review is here.

    You also mentioned St. Michans – it a really *surreal* experience. Review here:

    You also mentioned the Phoenix Park. It the nicest place to wander for a day, encountering deer, random games of hurley and if you’re lucky a good game of polo. But you should also make sure to organise visits to both the Aras and to Farmliegh. You need to plan both in advance, but they’re well worth it, and with your obvious interest in politics, those visits will have the added bonus of seeing important buildings that are still used by the State on a constant basis.

    A visit to the Aras, also brings to mind another glaring omission from your list: a visit to Dublin Castle. The history of the two is quite intertwined. The Castle is easily combined with the Chester Beatty Library, the latter being on the castle grounds.

    You mentioned that you love pictures – then get your ass over to the National Gallery (admission free). The centrepiece is Carrivagio’s “Taking of Christ”, but the Jack B. Yeats collection is also awesome; especially if you can get a guide to point out some of the finer details in them. And AFAIK, the Museum of natural history (next door to the gallery) is open again after being recently closed for renovations.

    And now for tours that I have not yet done myself, but have been on my TODO list for longer than I care to admit:
    – Leinster House
    – Taoiseachs Office
    – Grattans Parliament, in the Bank of Ireland, College Green (I believe this is only open 1 day a week)

    And given where we were yesterday, you must have already thought about taking the Croke Park roof tour… 2013, the year for reaching new heights in Croke Park, eh!?

    And here is the most important piece of advice: when you visit an attraction, make sure to ask if it is managed by the OPW. If it is, buy a heritage card This will set you back EUR21, but will get you into that attraction for free, and will also get you free admission to every other attraction in the country that is managed by the OPW (for 1 year)… So just buy a card rather than paying admission, and from then on use the card everywhere you can…

    Enjoy – we’ll be looking forward to the blog updates and the TripAdvisor reviews…..

    Hope it helps!

    P.S. I still have a few more places to try for after you’re done with all that lot! 😉

  4. Pingback: Dates with Dublin #1 | An Cailín Rua
  5. hallo caílín rua,

    you surely know about saturday’s designer market on cow’s lane and the tiny taste of france: paris bakery on moore street, don’t you

    • oh, and don’t forget: when going to chester beatty library, don’t miss the dubh linn gardens for a bit of quiet and some beautiful (glass) sculptures

  6. Pingback: Dates with Dublin | An Cailín Rua
  7. St. Anne’s Park in Raheny is a treasure you could spend your life exploring (lots of Guinness Family history here). Also, the Wooden Bridge leading to the Bull Wall in Clontarf is lovely for a wind-blown stroll. You can have Noodles afterwards in Kanoodle if you’re hungry :). If you want to venture north a bit Ardgillan Demesne in Skerries is magnificent (and has the BEST PLAYGROUND EVER!) Newbridge House and Farm in Donabate is pretty cool too.

  8. Pingback: #DatesWithDublin #6 – St. Audoen’s Church | An Cailín Rua

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