Visiting Dublin for the first time? Take a gander at our insider's city guide
- Claire Sawers
- 24 May 2013
Avoid the naff tourist traps and take in the likes of Glasnevin, Whelan's and the Chester Beatty Library
The capital of the Emerald Isle makes a good destination for a long weekend of pub appreciation and culture absorbing – and thanks to low cost direct flights from Scotland, you can be there and back for under £50, if you time it right.
Although Dublin (from the Irish name Dubhlinn, which means ‘black pool’) gets a steady flow of tourists dropping by for a weekend stag-do or a trip to the Guinness factory, there are plenty other attractions, if you’d rather avoid the naff paddywhackery and step away from the well-worn tourist trail.*
*If naff paddywhackery is exactly what you’re after, may we suggest getting a photo taken at Temple Bar, with heads poking through the dancing leprechaun cut-outs, followed by a trip to the Leprechaun Museum.
Here are a few of the less naff options for starters.
Learn about Dublin’s bodysnatching past…
An alternative way to learn about the city’s past, Glasnevin Cemetery is the final resting place for rebels, writers, revolutionaries, so it makes for a good way to get some colour on Ireland’s political and literary background. After a walk amongst the headstones in the cemetery, there is a short exhibition in the museum’s basement, called ‘City of The Dead’ detailing the gruesome grave robbing process, and the burial rituals and religious beliefs of some of the people buried at Glasnevin.
Before heading back in to the city centre (there are regular buses from just outside the cemetery), stop for a pint at Kavanagh’s, a no frills boozer better known as ‘The Gravediggers’, where cadavers were propped up against the wall while robbers stopped for a pint on the road back from the cemetery.
Get a night's sleep with opulent trimmings...
The lobby of the Trinity Capital Hotel is decked out in oversized candy stripes, Triffid-like pot plants and giant velvet armchairs; there are butterfly wings on the coffee tables, and the occasional griffin statue where you least expect it. It’s handily placed a couple of minutes around the corner from Trinity College, a few streets back off the Liffey, which means you can walk back from the city centre at night without needing a cab. If your Guinness hangover allows you downstairs in time for breakfast, you’ll find the works, including soda bread, black and white pudding, copies of the Irish papers, and eager-to-please staff.
Trinity Capital Hotel, Pearse Street, Dublin, rooms from €79.
Ogle rare books and exotic artefacts...
A genuinely fascinating collection of rare books, religious art and Asian, North African and Middle Eastern trinkets, the Chester Beatty Library is down a side street near Dublin Castle, and well worth the detour. Beatty was an obsessive collector of snuff bottles, papyrus scripts, Persian prints, Japanese calligraphy and Buddhist writings. This library contains the Greatest Hits of his collection, and entry is free.
Sip a Guinness, order a toastie...
Not to be mistaken, under any circumstances for a gastropub, or a style bar, the food on offer at Grogan's gets about as fancy as a cheese toastie with ham. There’s no TV inside, no chandeliers suspended from the ceiling; just battered leather banquettes, good craic, and wood clad walls covered in local paintings.
Sip a glass of wine, order a cheese platter
Upstairs, Fallon & Byrne is a gourmet food hall, with an excellent deli counter (for taking away or sitting in) and downstairs it’s a wine bar, and well stocked wine cellar (also for taking away or sitting in). They stock local fruit and veg, fresh stuffed Italian pasta, mussels from Dublin Bay, mille feuille pastries made on the premises…
Go to a gig in a pub
Whelan's is a good small-sized venue for enjoying pints, and seeing some decent touring bands in a pokey venue, before they get too big to play them. Haim, High Wolf, William Tyler and Beak> have all played there in the last few months, and Low and Fucked Up are among the upcoming acts.