Published: November 26, 2015
Imagine that all you’ve got is 24 hours in Dublin. First of all, what were you thinking? You are either on a very long layover or you hate cities. If it’s the case where you’re not a city person and want to escape into the stunning Irish countryside right away, maybe this could persuade you to set your base in Dublin and visit some pretty fantastic green spaces in the vicinity. But if you are in a hurry to change flights and leave, let us give you a crash course in Dublinology and, hopefully, make you postpone your onward flight.
1. If the sky has graced you with sunny weather, first thing you should do is jump in for the creamiest ice cream at Murphy’s. Heck yeah, in winter this place serves experimental chili pepper flavour if you like it hot.
If you find yourself facing the charming Irish drizzle as you enter the city, we suggest you go for a mug of Dublin’s hottest dark hot chocolate at Butler’s Chocolates. There are two of them right at the airport, in T1 and T2, and quite a few scattered all around Dublin city center.
2. Trinity College Dublin, The Book of Kells and The Old Library
Let the TCD be your set-off point for this incredible city walk: all roads converge here, between the entrance to Trinity College and the House of Parliament. Gray stones of Trinity College and the massive gate out front may seem inhospitable at first glance, against the backdrop of Dublin sky on a rainy day, but many tourists flock to this place to catch a glimpse of the Book of Kells, a marvelous medieval manuscript whose folios are filled with intertwining and curvy ornamental patterns, inspired by nature and scarce light of monastic cells. More on it here. And of course, the Old Library, the ultimate shrine for book nerds. It is a shame really they would not allow you to sit down with a book and a monocle and snap a smart selfie.
3. Ol’ Molly Malone (also known as The Tart with the Cart, in the most affectionate way possible) stands in Suffolk street, just a small detour before you enter Grafton street, the main shopping lane of Dublin. Grafton street will lead you all the way to St Stephen’s Green. Stop and pause to listen to the buskers as you push your way through crowded alleys – this music is the most accurate audiovisual portrait of Dublin. St Stephen’s Green on a sunny day is a blessed place for socializing, strolling around in meditative solitude and feeding ducks in the pond.
4. Founded in the late 12th century, St Patrick’s Cathedral has seen the turn of centuries, witnessed many changes in the course of Irish history, and undergone multiple restorations that added new features to its glorious Gothic architecture. Gray and kind of grim against the silvery Irish sky, the cathedral is truly splendid inside, no matter if you are looking for aesthetic pleasure or religious inspiration.
5. You cannot visit Ireland and leave without trying the black stuff. That you can actually do at any Irish pub, any time of the day. But if Guinness is truly your religion, Guinness Storehouse is the place to learn more about how black stuff came to exist, and down a few pints on the roof with a sweeping 360° view of the city. The only problem is the €18 entrance fee, but then again, a free beer voucher is included in the self-guided tour.
6. Dublin Castle
The castle that was built as the seat for British rulers of Ireland was handed over to the Provisional Government of independent Ireland in 1922. It now serves for presidential inaugurations and official events, but on regular days stays open for visitors. Although many writers throughout centuries have praised the Castle’s mighty fortifications and security, in 1907 somebody nicked the Irish Crown Jewels from the tower and vanished without a trace like a real champ.
Dublin Castle is far from being the coolest castle in Ireland, and Howth castle, just outside Dublin, offers better scenery and more pleasant walking – if you have the time, of course.
7. Have a bite and a pint at Darkey Kelly’s (Fishamble Street, Christchurch, Dublin 2). Here, you are guaranteed to catch live music as early as 7:30 PM, mainly the traditional diddly-diddly that everybody comes to Ireland for. The bar and restaurant is proudly named after Ireland’s first female brothel-keeper and perhaps serial killer who was burned at the stake for witchcraft. Now, do you want to have a look at the menu?
8. Walk across the Ha’Penny Bridge (also called Liffey Bridge) and watch the water of the river Liffey underneath your feet. You get to enjoy this walk and view for free, but between 1816 and 1919 there were turnstiles and a fee to cross from one side of the river to the other. You guessed it right, a halfpenny is what Dubliners used to pay to use this engineering wonder that replaced old decrepit river ferries that used to operate across Liffey before the construction of the bridge.
9. O’Connell’s Street
The General Post Office on O’Connell’s Street was one of the most eventful places in Dublin during the War of Independence, and it still bears scars of the Easter Uprising of 1916. Back then, however, the street looked completely different. Instead of the Spire, the guiding light for all inebriated city newbies in the middle of the night, stood the Nelson’s Pillar, that was eventually blown up by Irish republicans in the 1960s. The Spire was constructed in the early 2000s and immediately caught a few flattering nicknames, including ’The Stiffy on the Liffey’ and ’Stiletto in the Ghetto’. Just around the corner in one of the streets branching off O’Connell’s you will find a statue of James Joyce staring at the sky, better known among the locals as The Prick with the Stick.
10. Dine at Brannigan’s (9 Cathedral Street, Dublin 1) before you leave!
Just off O’Connell’s Street beside St Mary’s Cathedral stands one of the best dining venues in Dublin, Brannigan’s. Named after a local celebrity garda by the current owners, this place has been gathering local stories for the past few centuries: from Ireland’s first and only resident elephant to famous sporting gigs of old times. Today, Brannigan’s is offering not only fantastic carvery lunch but also very encouraging prices.
Trinity College, from the National Library of Ireland archives
On the other hand, if you have a few hours to spare and want to explore some parts of Dublin with extensive storytelling involved, you should probably check out one of our tours!