This week Travel Tuesdays pays a visit to Dublin, the capital of the Emerald Isle, where Sophie Coffey will provide you with a guide for the perfect short visit and tips for longer holidays in Ireland’s metropolis.
Edited by Nina Nagel
Dublin is fairly different from the hidden ‘in the sticks’ part of South West Cork – where I was living before moving back to England- and yet some of the truly unmissable Irish aspects of the place really made me feel right at home again. Here is my guide to this divine city:
A gorgeous area in Dublin centre is the well-known O’Connell Street, home to Dublin’s General Post Office (GPO) which was the target for the 1916 Easter Uprising, for which the 100th anniversary commemorations have already started in bars across Dublin. One of the striking features of O’Connell Street is the obvious change in architecture between the GPO and the rest of the street due to the British demolishing everything on the street in 1916, apart from the front of the GPO, which was their target. Bullet holes can still be seen in the front of the GPO, where a few stray bullets hit target. There are also shops on O’Connell Street as well as places to book various bus tours, including the Ghost Bus which takes you around some of the spookier areas of Dublin in a light-hearted, after dark tour.
Kilmainham gaol was a previously functioning jail (or Gaol in Irish) that is now nothing more than a tourist attraction. Kilmainham Gaol’s biggest boasting points include it’s interior being used as the set for filming the jail scenes in The Italian Job and being where the 1916 uprising rebels were held and executed after they were finally caught. I would definitely recommend you visit Kilmainham Gaol on any length break for newcomers to Dublin. It’s certainly a piece of history worth visiting.
Grafton Street has so much to offer to both tourists and locals. As the biggest shopping street, it is Dublin’s equivalent to Oxford street but with less public transport. Aside from general shopping (and copious tourist tat stores) Grafton street is home to the famous Bewleys café, though currently closed for renovations. Bewleys is a traditional Irish brand of hot drinks. Moreover on Grafton Street you can find the Gaiety theatre, a great place for an evening out to watch river dance, a real pinnacle of Irish culture, and the Molly Malone statue, colloquially known as ‘the tart with the cart’. At the top of Grafton Street is St Stephen’s Green. This is a small but gorgeous area full of greenery that’s great for a picnic or afternoon stroll, as long as you don’t mind the rain.
It costs money to get in but it’s well worth the student rate of €8. The Guinness Storehouse contains a museum showing how Guinness is made, the history of the drink and the company. However, one of the biggest attractions of the Guinness Storehouse is the free pint you receive in one of three exclusive ways. You have a choice between trying different flavours of Guinness, learning how to properly pour a pint of Guinness or enjoying a professionally poured Guinness in the infamous Gravity lounge with 360 views of Dublin, perfect on the rare occasion Dublin gets some sun.
What to try (and avoid) when in Ireland
Everyone knows about Guinness being a traditional Irish drink, but like any country it has it’s… delicasies. My first word of advice would to be to avoid eating foods such as burgers and steaks. This is not for fear of food poisoning (Ireland has incredibly strict rules when it comes to health and safety) but rather that these things are always over cooked. More traditional Irish foods include stew as well as bacon and cabbage. You’ll also often find that the roast meal is served with mash instead of roast potatoes (something that disgusts English tourists).
What do you need to know about Dublin’s inhabitants?
The Irish people like to joke around. They will tell you completely ridiculous lies and you will assume it to be true because they are charismatic locals who must know what they’re talking about. However, I have seen many fall victim to believing everything the Irish tell them. As somebody who is of Irish descent, I know how funny it is and how hard it can make it to correct poor tourists who repeat nonsense they heard in an Irish pub. In fact, my dad managed to convince my mum they didn’t have toilet paper in Ireland. So make sure to check all your facts before repeating what you’ve been told.