Favorite Moments in Dublin
Yes, Dublin has a more sophisticated edge than it once did, but some things don’t change, like the Croke Park crowds, love of a drink, and the cheerful cynicism of the government. Following are my favorite Dublin moments, some of which few visitors get to experience.
Sipping coffee on Bewley’s balcony
The tiny balcony overlooking Grafton Street is ideal for sipping coffee and watching the world swarm beneath. It’s now one of Dublin’s many venues serving a decent cup of strong coffee, but Bewley’s was the first and will always be an icon.
Discovering the IMMA's Art Collection
The 17th-century Royal Hospital Kilmainham, once housing retired soldiers, is now home to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. Wander round its vast courtyard and compact exhibition rooms, in what is a fine use for an old hospital.
Watching the sunlight inside St. Patrick's Cathedral
Late afternoon usually means Evensong’s organ rehearsals in this historic cathedral. As the late afternoon sun starts to dip, watch the glowing colors on the walls as the light shines through the stained-glass windows.
Sauntering through wooded walks at Iveagh Gardens
So close to busy St. Stephen’s Green and yet a world away, this secluded Victorian garden has a cascade, armless statues, rosarium, and shady woods—made for solitary afternoons.
Musing over the Manuscripts at the Chester Beatty Library
One of my favorite exhibitions and venues. Instead of snaking lines for the Book of Kells, step into the tranquil Sacred Traditions display of illuminated manuscripts from the Qur’an, ancient Persian texts, and miniature paintings from India.
Strolling Along the Grand Canal in Dublin
This walk is alongside the main road and yet this canal-side path seems miles away from traffic. Enjoy a Sunday morning as the city awakens and, if it’s sunny, ducks waddle out and bask in the warmth. I love the ancient locks, weeping willows, and the view of Peppercanister Church from Huband Bridge.
Smelling the sea air at Dún Laoghaire
When I was a kid, we would drive along the coast to watch the ferries dock in Dún Laoghaire. These days the speedy DART, the wonderful coastal suburban train, makes the journey even better. Step off the train and start smelling the sea.
Exploring the aisles at "What’s In Store" at the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History
A highlight of Collins Barracks—now the home of National Museum of Decorative Arts and History—thousands of items cram into tall display cases at the What’s In Store section of the collection, from samurai swords to silver, each rotated in from the museum's humongous storage areas. On each visit I notice different treasures.
Deciding which pub serves the best Guinness
Need I say more? Guinness might be available the world over, but it really does taste better over here. Mulligan’s? Cobblestone? Ryan’s? Hard to tell, but it’s always a mouthwatering moment watching the pint being pulled slowly and then settling, ready to be sunk.
Joining the Crowd's at Croke Park
I’ve enjoyed countless sporting venues around the world, but Croke Park for hurling or Gaelic football is one of the greatest. The fun starts when both sets of supporters clad in their team’s shirts walk together up O’Connell Street, bar-hopping along the way. And the riot of color and noise when the teams emerge onto the pitch is spine-tingling stuff.
Greeting the Linesman on the Liffey
I love life-sized sculptures, of which Dublin has many. Here, The Linesman hauls ropes from the Liffey at Sir John Rogerson Quay, probably noticing how much his surroundings have changed over the decades.
Enjoy the Foodie Culture
It’s good to see Dublin taking all things gastronomic seriously, and food markets springing up. Visit the one in Temple Bar to choose cheeses, sample ciders, and cast your discerning eye over the homemade cookies.
Walking to Powerscourt House and Gardens
The mile-long walk from Enniskerry village to the entrance of grandiose Powerscourt House is breathtaking, especially in the fall when the beech trees are awash with deep orange.