Travel

Travel Spotlight… Dublin, Ireland

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3 weeks Discovery Channel

Dublin is a beautiful ancient city, but don’t let that fool you into thinking it’s trapped in the past. Although there are a mess of museums, historical buildings, and signs of old Ireland all around, a flood of new restaurants, bars, and a thriving local arts scene makes Dublin hum like a modern city. 

QUICK TRAVEL TO DOS:

See: Dublin Castle is a sight to behold, dating back to 1204.
Eat: L Mulligan Grocer is an old-worldly delight, with menus in children’s books, and candy given to you with the bill.
Drink: Whiskey or Guinness? Tours are on offer for both these Irish classics. Details below.
History: The three museums mentioned below are a great crash-course in history – Irish or otherwise.
Relax: Take a picnic into Phoenix Park, a huge green space with plenty of deer roaming about and a nearby zoo.
Adventure: Shoot some clay pigeons at Balheary Shooting. Don’t worry, they don’t feel a thing.
Shopping: The Ballymun Market is quant and packed with local stall-holders selling artisan goods.
Art & Culture:  The Project Arts Centre in the Temple Bar is well worth a visit.

STEP BACK IN TIME 

The three Dublin-based branches of the National Museum of Ireland collectively house some of the most impressive – and often-times creepy – exhibits in the world. The National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology is a massive 1890 building on Kildare Street which houses Bronze age jewellery, medieval Celtic works, and a number of rather fascinating, albeit gory, Bog Bodies – dead bodies that have been perfectly mummified in peat bogs.

For more slightly creepy history head over to the National History Museum on Merrion Street, which is known to locals as the Dead Zoo due to its two-million strong collection of taxidermy animals and preserved insects from the 1800s. Entry to the History Museum is free and the actual exhibits and Victorian building haven’t changed since the 1800s, giving the place its second nickname: A Museum Of A Museum. There are numerous extinct species, such as the quagga, and the Tasmanian tiger, plus some jaw-dropping displays, including massive skeletons of humpback whales and giant Irish deer – the latter also being extinct.

The third branch of the National Museum is the Decorative Arts and History building, in the Collins Barracks – a building worth seeing in its own right. This contains old furniture, glassware and other ancient artefacts, perhaps the most impressive being a Chinese vase from 1300AD. You’ll be able to hit all three in one day if you are short of time, but with over four million items spread across the buildings, it’s best to split the trips up, or choose the one that appeals the most and really soak it in. 

DRINKING TOURS IN DUBLIN 

Considering their penchant for drinking, it’s not surprising that Dubliners have their distillery tours down to a fine art. A trip to Dublin can really not happen without a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, a seven-storey ode to the famous Irish drop with a tour of how the drink is made, the long twisted history of the brewing company, old advertisements, and a copy of the nine-thousand year lease (now that’s commitment!) signed by Arthur Guinness. You can pull your own Guinness, too, and best of all – entry includes a pint of beer at the door. What other place offers that?

If you enjoy your whiskey, you’ll need to head over to the Jameson Distillery, the original distillery that opened in 1780 and only ceased operating in 1971. Nowadays it lives on as a tourist attraction spread over five acres, its own micro-city within Dublin. There’s a bar with whiskey tastings, guided tours, and memorabilia. Drink responsibly! 

SOAK IN THE LOCAL CULTURE 

Temple Bar isn’t a bar in the drinking sense, but the city’s cultural mecca – a neighbourhood of cobblestone pedestrian lanes that house many of Dublin’s best restaurants, bars, boutiques, and nightclubs. The area is home to many of the city’s artistic hubs too: The National Photographic Archive, The Project Arts Centre, The Temple Bar Gallery, The Irish Film Institute, and the New Theatre are all within this area.

There’s a strong local music scene in the area too, and the many bars host a variety of musicians. You’ll also find book markets on during the weekends, as well as a number of pop-up stalls selling all manner of goods will turning up intermittently.

Posted by Nathan Jolly | Images sourced from Shutterstock