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!

Dates with Dublin

So, as I wrote in my last post, life is pretty good these days.

But it’s still a life in transition career-wise as both of my short-term contracts come to an end – one this week and one in a month’s time, and I face a potential return to the dole queue which worries me more than I care to admit.  Anyway, I’m hoping it won’t come to that (anyone, if you’re reading, please employ me. I can count, add, make excellent tea and I write good and stuff) but in the meantime, I have one month of part-time employment ahead which means one month of work-less afternoons. I don’t like having too much free time on my hands, so I’ve come up with a project to make use of that time.

I’ve lived in Dublin for six years now, and while it’s been reasonably good to me, it’s just somewhere I live, not somewhere I love.  I’m a west of Ireland girl, and I’m passionate about that part of the country – it’s where my heart and soul lie, but lately I’ve wondered whether I’ve been a bit unfair on Dublin. Like a nice lad you go on a date with but aren’t really too bothered about, I can’t help feeling that maybe I haven’t scratched the surface, and given Dublin enough of a chance to grow on me. I might just be missing out.

So for the month of August I’m going to explore the city, spend a bit of time with it and get to know it a little better. It’ll be on a budget, but they say money can’t buy happiness. We won’t be going to the best restaurants, nor drinking the finest wine, but perhaps a clear head will mean clearer vision. Nor will we be transported in style – it’ll be a two-wheel system mostly, but fresh air is good for the soul and the waistline.

Starting from next Tuesday, I’ll be visiting places that have either been on my own list of things to do for a while, or places I didn’t know existed, that have been recommended to me by friends or by the wonderfully helpful folk over on twitter. I’m looking for the places that help me learn about Dublin’s past, and tell me about the people who live and have lived here. I’m also quite enthusiastic about eating lovely food on a budget, so hoping to unearth a couple of thrifty treasure troves. I’m going to be a tourist in my own city. I don’t count photography as one of my skills, but I’ll take the odd photo, and may even write a line or three if somewhere really tickles my fancy.

If you have any suggestions for places I could go that you think I’ll like, please leave them in the comments below.

Dublin, I look forward to our first date.

Here’s a list of suggestions I’ve come up with and received. It’s been no means comprehensive, but it’s a great start and enough to keep me busy for a while. If you have any suggestions, please feel free to add them in!