Posted by: chiarraigrrl | February 6, 2012

Diversions for a few days in Dublin :)

O Connell Street 1 April
GPO and the millennium Spire, O’Connell Street, Dublin

Yeah, I couldn’t resist the alliteration. But I received another email- from a different friend, this time- saying that a friend of mine was planning a trip to Dublin this summer and did I have any recommendations for things to do/places to go? (I know. I lived there for more than 10 years, and she goes now that I’ve moved back. I’ve pointed this out to her, fear not, dear readers). Naturally I was delighted to put together a list…

Things to do in Dublin!:

One of my favorite Dublin attractions that seems to get less attention than many others is the Museum of Decorative Arts & History– well worth the visit, it’s in Collins Barracks, which is an amazing building, and features an excellent exhibit on the 1916 uprising against British rule plus many other fantastic exhibits.

National Photographic Archive appears to be moving from Temple Bar to the main National Library on Kildare Street, but NLI often has interesting events which might be worth attending.

Dublin Bus have a number of excellent sightseeing options. I highly recommend their open-top hop-on hop-off tour of the city, which starts just around the corner from the GPO on O’Connell Street (where the Easter Rising of 1916, which led to Irish independence, occurred) and includes Dublin Castle as well as a stop at Guinness Storehouse (though entrance to the Storehouse is additional). Also well worthwhile is the North Coast and Castle tour.

Tombstone and round tower at Glendalough
Round tower at Glendalough

There are also a lot of day tours to Glendalough, a beautiful monastery in the green hills of Wicklow, but I highly recommend the Grey Line tour, which stops at Avoca Handweavers, which the other Glendalough tours don’t do and is very well worth the visit (we took several of these Glendalough tours over the years trying to find one that went to Avoca- where they filmed “Ballykissangel”- but this is the only one that actually did, though others listed it as a highlight of their tours).

National Gallery of Ireland has a fantastic collection of both Irish and international artists.

Jeanie Johnston and the Samuel Beckett Bridge 3 April
Jeanie Johnston Famine ship with Samuel Beckett Bridge on the River Liffey

I lived in Tralee when they were building the Jeanie Johnston famine ship. I did some research on ships like it for my B.A. dissertation, and I love the fact that it’s now open as a museum on the River Liffey in Dublin. It’s definitely one not to miss.

Finally, my favorite hidden gem- the Chester Beatty Library is an amazing museum built from one man’s private collection, which often has incredible temporary exhibits (I’ve seen the art books of Henri Matisse there, and a special exhibit featuring DaVinci’s Codex Leicester).

John Lynn sharing a story at the farewell show for Leo in the International with Aidan, Leo, Des, David O'Doherty and Michael Mee 26 June
This photo was actually from Leo the doorman’s last night at the International Comedy Club. Good times…

Then of course there’s evening entertainment- Whelan’s is Dublin’s oldest music venue, and one of the best, on Wexford street ( seems to be having difficulties this evening, but should also have their concerts). There’s a great website that is usually pretty good for showing events/concerts/shows that are on, Then of course, there’s comedy on every night of the week in Dublin. Sunday nights Simon O’Keeffe runs the Capital Comedy Club upstairs in the Ha’penny Bridge Inn that usually has an excellent lineup and is a great night. Monday nights there’s excellent improv comedy upstairs in the International Bar on Wicklow Street – Tuesday nights I’d recommend Andrew Stanley’s Comedy Mish Mash, also upstairs in the International, which is usually experienced comedians test-running new material and generally having fun (and Andrew provides biscuits- aka cookies- during the interval); though there is also the Battle of the Axe upstairs in the Ha’penny Bridge Inn on Tuesday and Thursday nights, which is something of a Dublin institution and can be good fun (though be warned, it is kind of an open mic night). Wednesday is another night for the Capital Comedy Club (see above), or alternatively what is effectively the original comedy club in Dublin, the Comedy Cellar, which celebrated 25 years last year or the year before. The website isn’t necessarily always up to date, but it’ll give you a good idea of what’s on. Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights the International Comedy Club takes over upstairs at the International Bar; Saturday nights there’s also comedy at the Bankers on Trinity Street, around the corner, which has a good lineup and is a good alternative especially if the inter is sold out (which it can be).

For any knitters, if you want to buy Irish yarn, I recommend the Studio Donegal yarns, which are genuinely spun in Ireland (in Kilcar, Co. Donegal, to be exact, which is where a friend of mine is from) and aren’t as crazily expensive as many yarns can be in Ireland. Easiest place to pick some up is probably This is Knit in the Powerscourt Townhouse (which is also a great place to look around the shops, though generally way overpriced- it’s just off Grafton Street, so very central). There’s another delightful yarn shop in the Swan Centre in Rathmines, but it’s a bit harder to get to as it’s not in city centre (well worth a stop if you’re out that way, though)

Places to eat!:

I absolutely love Carluccio’s on Dawson Street. Staff are fab, food is delicious, prices are reasonable for Dublin and service tends to be excellent. And it’s just off Grafton Street, near most of the main attractions in city centre.

O’Neill’s Bar is also excellent- reasonable prices for big portions and they serve dinner until 9 or 10pm, which is a bonus if you end up wandering around too long and miss dinner. Can be quite busy, since it’s very central and offers some traditional Irish fare, so consider yourself warned, but it’s a good spot and often has Irish music on as well (with no cover charge. Huzzah!).

For lunch I love Metro Cafe– best tuna melt in Dublin, and a great menu, with generally lovely staff and good service. Plus it’s just up the street from Powerscourt Townhouse (and about 2 blocks from Grafton Street), so it’s easy to get to.

On the opposite corner from Metro Cafe is another little cafe called Busyfeet which also does an excellent lunch, and has a mighty fine lasagne for dinner

I’ve heard great things about Simon’s Place cafe, though I never got in there myself. It’s right at Georges Street Arcade, though, which you must visit while you’re in town.

And no list of recommendations would be complete without a mention of the delightful Cake Cafe– be sure to make time to pop in here for coffee and one of their baked treats. Yum!




  1. Some great suggestions! As a Dubliner, I’m ashamed to say that I haven’t tried everything on your list yet. Thanks for reminding me of all the great things there are to do here!

    • hey thanks! Glad I was able to remind you- they’re all gems, I think! Enjoy! 🙂

  2. Cant believe we have never been to the Chester Beatty library (it used to be in Ballsbridge we think) – anyway here’s to our first visit!

    • Yay! I love the Chester Beatty Library – hope you enjoy it! Be sure to check their website for special exhibits (might be worth getting on the mailing list). 🙂

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