I'm kind of a bum when travelling: I like to do all the free things, because they're free. You should spend money on the plane ticket, and that is all. Also, free things are the things the locals do, and so give you more of a feel for the place.
Anyway, the Hugh Lane is awesome, and admission to the gallery is completely free. Some great modern art. It also, amusingly, houses the (reconstructed) studio of Francis Bacon, with all its contents in disarray.
Here's a list of other FREE things/places in Dublin to see:
Elegant well-restored Georgian building with Arts & Crafts murals and giant coat of arms in Rotunda, with some really good restaurants close by. Don't forget the official measurement outside on the wall.
Cork Hill, Dame Street, Dublin 2
A five minute stroll from the top of O'Connel Street is the recently renovated and extended Hugh Lane, the official Dublin City Municipal Art Gallery. Its bright, naturally lit spaces make it one of the most pleasant places to spend an afternoon in Dublin, especially if it's raining. The highlight is an exact recreation of the chaotic studio of Francis Bacon, which you view through the room's windows and door. There is a wide variety of painting, photographic and stained glass and sculptural work on display, both modern and classical, a well stocked art book shop, and chic (if slightly pricy) cafe. Best of all, it's totally free.
Parnell Square North.
The Life and Work of William Butler Yeats is a wonderful exhibition for anybody seriously interested in the story of this great poet. You can listen to many of the poems being recited, including one read by Yeats himself. The medal he got for the Nobel Prize is among the hundreds of exhibits on display.
Admission is free along with other famous buildings in the neighbourhood such as the National Gallery and National Museum.
The National Library, Kildare St, Dublin.
About 200 yards from Grafton St, the main shoppping street. See details in www.nli.ie
Four is devoted to the development of an uninhibited artistic exploration of ideas, discourses and new trends in contemporary art and its practices. It sees its function as promoting, supporting and bringing contemporary art, curators and the artists who take part in its evolution to the public's attention.
11 Burgh Quay, Dublin 2, near the Tara Street Dart station;
tel: 00 353 (0) 86 365 1256;
Bull Island is man-made - well, formed as the result of sand building up against the (man-made) harbour wall. A stunning long sandy beach with an important bird sanctuary at one end, and a quaint wooden bridge, harbour wall, and monument at the other. If you aim for the middle section, you'll avoid the boy racers (they're not intimidating - just a bit annoying). On a windy day you'll have some impressive kitesurfing to watch, too.
Look out for the Bull Island if you come in on the plane. The northern approach often takes you directly overhead.
Bus routes 103, 104 and 130 run next to Bull Island (ask the driver), or Clontarf Rd DART (suburban rail) station followed by a 20 minute walk along the sea wall
Almost a stone’s throw away from St Stephen's Green, this little park is a quiet little getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city centre. While full of office workers during lunchtime on summer days, you'll nearly have the place to yourself when they're in work. A real hidden treasure.
Entrance is on Clonmel Street, off Harcourt Street.
Nearest Luas (light rail) stop: Harcourt Street and St Stephen's Green
Poolbeg Lighthouse is located at the end of the South Bull Wall and is a great place to go for a bracing walk. The wall sticks out into the bay and you can get a 360 degree view of Dublin bay and the mountains. It feels like you're on an island and sometimes you can be really lucky and see a seal. Plus there are loads of sea birds and even a tiny unspoilt beach. It’s a real escape from the city.
South Bull Wall is located in Ringsend/Irishtown, in the heart of the industrial centre of Dublin. The easiest way to get there is by travelling down the quays on the southside. The nearest landmark is the powerstation with its red and white striped towers.
This grand old public park, on the outskirts of Dublin's southern suburbs is a great way of escaping the mayhem, walking off that hangover and acts as a gateway to the beautiful Dublin and Wicklow hills. A wander through the Victorian grounds, forest, Saturday market and model railway for kids is extremely rewarding.
For one of the outstanding views of Dublin, follow the yellow marker posts for about an hour on a climb into the nearby woods. This view (on the Wicklow walkway) looks north taking in Dublin city, the bay and environs.
For even more stunning scenery follow the track for another hour up the hill and the city disappears to reveal open Irish hillsides and rolling forests. If you’re lucky, you will see some native deer and mountain goats.
Take the 48A bus from Dame Street (city centre near O'Connell Street) for 1/2 an hour, the last stop is Marley Park. To get to the viewing points follow the yellow markers in the main carpark. A map and information are also provided. For more details on the Wicklow way see www.wicklowway.com
TTo clear your head the morning after a night on the Guinness, hop on the Dart to Dun Laoghaire and take a stroll down one of its two piers. The east pier is a mile long and the west even longer. You will be rewarded with a breathtaking view over the Irish Sea.
On sunny days when the sea is a deep azure and the sky scattered with gauzy clouds you'll share the pier with families and lovers and little boys fishing. On colder winter days, when the water is iron grey, and the cumulus clouds and watery sun do battle over the roof tops and church steeples, the only sounds will be the rushing wind and the clanging of harboured boats. You might pass other pink-nosed hardy souls or even spot a few seals watching you silently from the choppy waves.
Nothing like it for a hangover.
DART to Dun Laoghaire station
Probably Dublin's finest museum in this writer’s humble opinion. It’s housed in the magnificent Royal Hospital in Kilmainham and boasts regular touring exhibitions, from Andy Warhol and Anthony Gormley to Yoko Ono and Joseph Beuys and all points in between.
The galleries are airy and spacious, sensitive to installation requirements and free of any overt pretentiousness. In other words, you don't have to have a deep understanding of art to enjoy the place. There is a good (if pricey) coffee shop on site.
The grounds surrounding the gallery are suitable for leisurely walking; the main avenue leads you directly to Kilmainham Gaol (about 10 minutes walk). War Memorial Gardens are nearby and the National Museum is one Luas hop away from nearby Heuston Station. Essentially, it forms the heart of the emerging museum district, and the Guinness brewery is close to hand also.
West of the city centre, 10 minutes walk from Heuston Station (Luas and Intercity services). Tour buses from the city centre include a visit on their routes, and regular bus services from city centre (nos. 68, 69, 78A, 79); www.modernart.ie/
Designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens, the Irish National War Memorial commemorates the estimated 49,000 Irishmen - all volunteers - who died, and the estimated 300,000 who fought in the British army during the first world war.
Unlike his other war memorials, Lutyens designed a tranquil garden on the banks of the Liffey. The garden consists of a Great War stone surrounded by circular fountains, which in turn are enclosed by pairs of 'book rooms' and pergolas. The 'book rooms' take the form of small limestone pavilions with sloping stone roofs and blank niches. Originally these rooms contained books designed by Harry Clarke containing all the names of the war dead.
The gardens was shamefully neglected for many years before undergoing restoration by the OPW in the 1980s. The park ranger now has a facility in one of the pavilions to view and print any page from the 12 book memorial record.
A stone’s throw from the wonderful Irish Museum of Modern Art, the historic Kilmainham Jail and close to the National Museum and Guinness brewery, it is a worthwhile and peaceful diversion from the throng of the city centre.
The riverside location is tranquil, and various rowing clubs are located on the opposite bank, beyond which you can see the magazine fort in the Phoenix Park. One of Dublin's best-kept secrets, the gardens bloom beautifully in mid-summer.
Located in Islandbridge, Dublin 8. Approximately 20 minutes walk from the Luas stop at Heuston Station. Buses:25,25A,26,51,68,69,78A & 79 from city centre all stop nearby.
A hidden gem, which many Dubliners don't even know about. It's a lovely Victorian park now undergoing restoration. A private little oasis within easy reach of anywhere in the centre of Dublin.
From Harcourt Street, through the grounds of the National Concert Hall.
This hidden gem is considered by many to be one of Europe's finest memorial gardens. It was designed by the great English architect Sir Edwin Lutyens. It's dedicated to the Irish dead of the first world war. It is beautifully maintained, a real little oasis by the River Liffey, across from Phoenix Park.
South Circular Road, Islandbridge. It's about 10 minutes walk from Heuston Station (Intercity rail and Luas stop)
One of the nicest walks in easy reach of Dublin. Get the Dart train to Howth village (about 25 minutes from the city centre), turn left and walk past the harbour (also a lovely walk and has a great restaurant called Aqua).Keep following the coast and you will find yourself on a wide unpaved path that runs along the southern part of Howth Head. Get ready for a bracing walk with fantastic views over Dublin Bay on a nice day. If you keep walking for two to three hours you eventually arrive in Sutton. Keep walking along the coast and you will end up at the Marine Hotel. You can get back to Dublin from the Sutton Dart station.
Howth Head, north Dublin
Wander through the melancholy, crumbling beauty of Glasnevin cemetery, resting place of Irish revolutionary heroes, including Daniel O'Connell and Michael Collins. Near the back gate, stop for a drink on a wooden bench at Kavanagh's, the popular and amazingly unaltered old gravedigger's pub.
Buses 40 or 40A, B and C from Parnell Street; www.glasnevin-cemetery.ie/
On a Saturday morning, wander the Temple Bar food market, scoffing samples. Best are the Irish cheeses, smoked fish and organic produce from family farms outside Dublin.
Meeting House Square, Temple Bar; Saturday 10am-5pm; see www.temple-bar.ie/culture_markets_food.asp for a list of traders.
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