Dublin is home to some absolutely gorgeous treasures.
A lot of these are located in the very compact centre of Dublin so you can get to them all by foot. I love the fact that it is so easy to wander along the banks of the river Liffey, right through the city centre and then weave off into the side roads to gaze at some sights. And then back along the river to the next place (with endless views of bridges as you walk). But even better is that you could walk about 15 mins away from the city centre and discover a different set of things that you can have almost entirely to yourself.
Here is my quick list of 8 things to do (or eat) in Dublin.
1. Shake hands with the 800 year old Mummy at St. Michan’s Church.
Reached down a narrow stone stairway, the conditions in the in the vaults underneath St Michan’s Church are so perfect for mummification, that the bodied buried in there still have their skin, bones and features intact. Visitors can see four of the mummies in open coffins and can even shake the hand of the 800 year old crusader for rumored good luck. The guide is brilliant and acts out the gruesome stories very well. The more fainthearted can choose to stay in the church above to see one of the oldest organs in the country, on which Handel is thought to have played his Messiah. (5 Euro).
2. See the earliest known ancient scrolls at the Chester Beatty Library.
The Chester Beatty library is a treasure trove of ancient manuscripts and priceless artefacts from all over the world. Lose yourself for hours examining the earliest known Christian papyri which include copies of St Paul’s letters (AD200) and part of the four gospels (AD 200-250). These scrolls don’t leave. Ever. Even the Pope, when he wanted to see them, had to come here. Then rest your legs in the perfectly kept and compact roof top garden with lovely views. (Free)
3. Get lost along Dublin’s Docklands.
Water lovers should wander a few minutes away from the city centre and get lost along the docks. It is a vibrant area filled with a mixture of both historic and modern architecture with plenty of boat, bird and people watching opportunities. Art galleries, museums and river cruises are all must see or do things along the way. Plus seasonal events like the Docklands summer festival and Christmas time market (complete with ice rink) must make the docks even more and fun. (Free).
4. Visit the intellectual hub that is Trinity College.
No visit to Dublin should be complete without a visit to Trinity College, home of famous scholars including Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Bram Stoker. You get to see both contemporary and classical buildings, including the gorgeous library with its vaulted ceilings. The library is home to over 4 million books including the beautifully illuminated Book of Kells written by Ionian monks in around AD 800. Then sit in one of the very peaceful green spaces and people watch whilst imagining where Bram Stoker might have got his inspiration. Legend has it that his visit to the vaults at St Michan’s might have inspired Dracula. (12 Euro for a guided tour, concessions available).
5. Chat up the market traders.
Wake up early and head down to Moore Street Market (and other markets) and chat to the traders as they set up their stalls. These fourth and fifth generation stall owners have great stories to tell and even greater recipes that they are willing to share. A debate about adding cranberries and chestnuts to Irish stew is a fun way to break the ice. (Free)
6. People watching.
One thing not to miss is the people. Dubliners make this city what it is, and looking at them, in all their variety, is part of the entertainment. The mix of people, from the extremely cool and trendy (who have clearly spent more time than is absolutely healthy on their appearance) to the casual student leprechauns (whose disregard for others’ opinions of what they look like is almost a statement in itself), watching the people is an all-day and all-night free entertainment. (Free).
7. Eat Dublin.
All that treasure hunting will surely leave you hungry. For some great eats try breakfast at Brother Hubbard – serving up Irish food with middle eastern influences. Try their semolina pancakes, rose water lemonade and pulled pork sandwiches. Lunch could be at The Pig’s Ear with modern Irish menu including things like slow roast duck legs with toasted oats, blackened spring onions with a hens egg salad dressing and a to die for cheese cake. For supper go cheap but really good vietnamese at Pho Viet – try their fresh spring rolls. For a quick snack grab a Dublin Sausage from Lolly and Cooks or a freshly baked bagel from The Pepper Pot Cafe. Do not leave Dublin without sampling the caramelised brown bread ice cream at Murphy’s Ice Cream. It is soooooo good that it should come with a ‘this is seriously addictive’ warning label. (Prices various).
8. Buy great Irish foodie gifts.
Ireland has such great food products that it can difficult to work out where to begin to shop. Luckily Fab Food Trails Food Tours are on hand to show you some of the best products which include: a huge selection of Irish cheeses, lush chocolate, matured Irish whiskey and perfectly spicy horse radish. Other things to consider are Ed Hick’s bacon jam, Llewellyn’s balsamic cider vinegar and anything with Guinness in it. (Prices various)
This is just my selection of things to do in Dublin but there are many other treasures to discover. Please let me know if you make it to Dublin someday and do some of these things.
The images of the Chinese Dragon robe and St Paul’s letter are copyright © of The Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library, Dublin.