It's time to venture a little farther out of the center this morning as you get to know some of the sights of Smithfield, on the eastern side of the city. Then it's back to Temple Bar in the afternoon, before rounding off the day at one of the city's best venues for authentic, traditional live music.
1. Kilmainham Gaol
For nearly 130 years, this was one of the most notorious prisons in Ireland. In addition to a grim roll call of the criminally insane, Kilmainham's inmates counted several prominent Irish revolutionaries among their number. These included Easter Rising leader Patrick Pearse, who was executed here in 1916, and Eamon de Valera, who eventually became president of Ireland. Walking through the restored building, with its Victorian cells and austere exercise yard, is a powerful experience. The accompanying exhibition does an outstanding job of putting all the history into context.
2. Irish Museum of Modern Art
Set in a beautiful 17th-century former hospital building, this small but handsome museum has a strong collection of modern art dating from the 1940s to the present. The restored grounds are also used as an exhibition space, with a number of changing pieces displayed among the formal lawns and clipped box hedges.
3. National Museum of Ireland: Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks
This branch of the National Museum tells the story of Irish (and world) history through fashion, jewelry, furniture, and other decorative arts, with the bulk of the collection spanning the 1760s to the 1960s. Additionally, eight galleries cover Irish military history from the 16th century to the present, with a fascinating section about the Easter Rising of 1916.
4. Guinness Storehouse
Opened in 1759, the Guinness Storehouse is one of the world's most famous breweries, producing the distinctive dark stout that is known and loved the world over. You can explore the Guinness Hopstore, tour a converted 19th-century building housing the World of Guinness exhibition, and view a film showing how the stout is made. Last but not least, stop in at the breathtaking Gravity Bar. Here you can sample a glass of the famous brew in a glass-enclosed bar 61m (200 ft.) above the ground, with 360-degree views of the city.
5. St. Michan's Church
This remarkable 17th-century church was built on the site of a Viking chapel, dating from around 1095. The interior has some intricate 18th-century woodwork and an organ on which Handel is reputed to have first performed his Messiah. But none of that is why you're here—for the crypt holds a fascinating (and creepy) secret. There's something about the atmospheric conditions down here that makes bodies decompose extremely slowly. Centuries-old mummies are laid out in open coffins, dry and desiccated but in no way looking their age. Some even have hair and fingernails.
6. The Four Courts
Home to the Irish legal courts since 1796, this fine 18th-century building is distinguished by its graceful Corinthian columns, massive dome, and exterior statues of Justice, Mercy, Wisdom, and Moses. Badly damaged by the fighting during the civil war of 1922, the building was later artfully restored, although some details were lost. Tours are available—but only for law students, who have to book as part of a group. Otherwise, if you want to see the interior you can go watch a trial in progress.
7. Temple Bar Gallery
This big, rambling art gallery sums up all that is good about Temple Bar. Founded in 1983 as the heart of Dublin's "Left Bank," it's one of the largest studio and gallery complexes of its kind in Europe. It's filled with innovative work by contemporary Irish artists—more than 30 of them, working in a variety of disciplines including sculpture, painting, printing, and photography. Only the gallery section is open to the public but you can make an appointment in advance to view individual artists at work.
8. The Cobblestone
Dublin is hardly short of memorable pubs to choose from, but this tucked-away gem is one that many visitors pass by. It's a real musician's pub, beloved by locals, and as authentic as they come. Traditional music sessions happen nightly in the main bar, and admission is free.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.