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/
The largest disused prison in Europe, and a pivotal place in Irish history. This is where the leaders of the 1916 rising were held and executed, and where thousands of ordinary prisoners were held from 1796 to 1924, when Eamonn DeValera was the last person to be released.
I was a tour guide here for two years, so I am biased, but I think it is the one of the best places in Dublin for a visit. If you want to understand recent Irish history, this is the place for you.
Inchicore Road, Dublin 8;
tel: +353 1 453 5984;
Buses: 51B, 51C, 78A, 79 from Aston Quay
A small chain of cafe bars offering quality and value for money. The two city centre ones are in lovely old buildings, and they combine a nice old-fashioned character with a quality range of Italian influenced food. They don't take bookings, but have an efficient queuing system, so they are probably one of the best places to go if you find yourself without a booking on a Friday or Saturday night.
South Great George's Street and Grafton Street
Their gluttonous "roasts in a roll" are something you'd get in Valhalla - great haunches of meat carved into enormous home-baked rolls with delicious spreads. They make excellent soups, salads and pizzas, but it's with their chocolate brownies that Gruel truly excels: big heavy slabs, crisp on top, gooey in the middle, baked several times a day with quality ingredients.
The atmosphere's good, the staff are enthusiastic and there's a new spacious room downstairs, perfect for mislaying the rest of your afternoon in. This is the best lunch in Dublin.
68A Dame Street, Dublin 2; tel: +353 (0) 1 670 7119
Less energetic than walking up Killiney Hill: take the Dart to Killiney and then walk back along the coast road to Dalkey. The views over the bay are lovely. Further along, look out for Coliemore Harbour and Dalkey Island. Finish off with drinks or food in Dalkey, before taking the Dart back into town.
Dart to Killiney
The Cobalt is easy to miss – it’s located on the ground floor of a Georgian townhouse on a largely residential street on the northside. Its only identifiable from a dark blue sign on the doorway. However, inside it’s lovely: a simple cafe with basic but tasty sandwiches and snacks in two elegant rooms and an outdoor garden, decorated with art for sale.
The Cobalt is only open for lunch with occasional evening music events. It’s popular, so to get a seat try to be in before 1pm.
It’s probably the most stylish place for a cheap(ish) lunch in Dublin.
16 North Great George's Street (just north of Parnell Street East)
This gigantic new cafe bar is located just west of the main shopping area in Henry Street and is probably the classiest place to have a snack and a drink on the northside.
It’s located in an 18th-century baroque former church, which has been restored in a reasonably sensitive manner. The church has an interesting history, with associations with Wolfe Tone, the Guinness family, Jonathan Swift, Sean O'Casey and John Wesley. Its new incarnation as a bar (Wesley must be rolling in his grave) only started in December 2005 and has yet to really find its feet - the service and food were quite erratic on my two visits.
However, it’s well worth a look in, even if just to admire the architecture. If they get the food and service right, this could soon be one of the classiest venues in the city.
Authentic Italian restaurant. It sells truly excellent slices of pizza for takeaway. (Very) fast food without the guilt of inflating the profits of some evil multinational purveyor of junk food.
Chatham Street, just off Grafton Street, round the corner from HMV; tel: 670-5630
The real 'left bank' of Dublin. It is everything that Temple Bar aspires to be, mixing art and music with Dublin's finest pubs on one stretch of street. Whelan’s for the best live music and gigs. Carnival for alternative entertainment. Solas for relaxed chat and music. Cassidy’s where Bill Clinton had a pint of Murphys. Ryan’s for some of the best pints in Dublin. The Bleeding Horse, one of the oldest pubs in Dublin. Flannery’s where the country people create a piece of the west in the city. Plus numerous eateries with cuisine from around the world, furniture, fashion and art dealers. What more could you want from a weekend in Dublin?
At the tram station on Stephen's Green take a right away from the Green and you are there.
A good value Italian restaurant, centrally placed. A varied menu and wine list all at very reasonable prices make Toscana a good place to eat before the theatre.
3 Cork Hill, Dame Street, opposite Dublin Castle; www.toscana.ie/
Not as famous as the Abbey, but arguably a better quality theatre, with a great range of Irish and international plays. The interior is beautiful, much nicer than the Abbey. The bar is always a fun place in the interval, full of Dublin’s upper-crust and more impoverished arty types. The northside location thankfully helps to keep the number of southsider suburbanites to a minimum.
1 Cavendish Row (north end of O'Connell Street); tel: 874 4045; www.gate-theatre.ie
The park is 707 hectares, making it more than twice the area of New York's Central Park.
The park is interesting not just for this expanse of land, but also because of the interesting history of its development. It began as a Royal Deer Park from around 1662, and was opened to the public in 1747. It holds a zoo, visitor centre, deer, the big Papal cross and the president's home (Aras an Uachtarain).
It's ideal to get the Luas up there, and chill out for a day, or just recover from the night before before hitting the town again.
At the west of the city, opposite Heuston train station
The hotel is a former masonic school situated between the Royal Dublin Society (RDS) and the British Embassy. Great location for Lansdowne Road. All rooms (single/twin/double/family) are 99 euros per night. Breakfast is extra. The basement is given over to a restaurant, bar and lounge.
Merrion Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4; www.bewleyshotels.com
This bar (pronounced "shinay") is great for late night drinking. A good selection of beer and great music make for an enjoyable atmosphere. Probably not the best place for a Guinness, however.
Ormond Quay, Dublin 1; on the north of the quays, not too far from O'Connell Street heading west
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 gastropub just off Grafton Street. Bright and modern design make this refurbished pub a pleasure to while away the hours. Food is excellent - try the sea bass on asparagrus risotto - and good value. There’s decent pints of Guinness and a very good wine list. One negative, food is not served after 8pm.
4 Chatham Road, Dublin 2; tel: 00 353 1 679 2909
Great modern hotel. Amazing rooms, very clean and spacious, Very good breakfasts. Right by the Millennium Bridge and Temple Bar.
If you really want a treat try one of their corner penthouse rooms.
The best (maybe only) local in the centre of Dublin. Basic - even down-at-heel - it succeeds in being both pretentious and unpretentious at the same time. Pullulates with penurious artists, wannabe Joyces and alcoholic has-beens diluting their woes in stout. Staff are firm but fair and sometimes friendly. You can have any grub you want as long as it's a ham and cheese toastie or a variant thereof.
The walls are chock full of the patrons' art - a democratic explosion of crap and colour that does much to brighten the dim interior. You never know, you may even pick up a future Hib-Art gem for next to nothing. Quirky. Incomparable. Essential.
15 South William Street, Dublin 2; tel: 677 9320
This is one of the last and (in my opinion) one of the best traditional Dublin pubs. Tucked away down an alley off Dame Street, it is characterised by dim lighting and pints of excellent Guinness lined up along the bar. It does food (of the traditional variety), there's a good crowd and it has a small snug but you have to get there early to get a seat.
Dame Court, off Dame Street
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