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48 Hours in Dublin Part 2 March 9, 2017

irish bar Hello everybody and welcome back to the second part of my article on what to do in Dublin city if you only have 48 precious hours to spend here, in this wonder colourful city full of magic and wonder and other great things.

Now honestly I’m going to be covering so many excellent places to visit that you couldn’t possibly do them all in 48 hours but I’m assuming, like so many tourists, that you’ll love it here so much that you’ll have already booked your ticket back before you have even left!

So, one of my favourite places to bring people is called the Little Museum of Dublin. This is a wonderful and fun experience that will entertain all of the family. It’s only 8 euro to enter and if you are smart you will schedule for Saturday morning as then you will also receive a free guided tour. Now I can’t really say fairer than that can I! All of the pieces and exhibits have been donated by Dubliners and they all give a real feel for how the times have changed in such a short space of time. Well worth checking out. Highly recommended. A truly wonderful way to spend a nice Saturday afternoon. Even better if it’s raining outside!

1916 easter rising memorabilia

Next on my list is Trinity College. This place is known all over the world. It has produced some very famous graduates including famous and revered authors and artists.

There is a lot of history to take in here. It really is an amazing and relaxing walk through time. If you want to have a tour then it only costs 4 euro and usually takes about half an hour or so. You can buy tickets at the entrance and honestly I feel its well worth it. I always think an experience is greatly enhanced when you have a knowledgeable and fun guide showing you around. The extra facts and knowledge they have really helps to bring the place alive.

The two big things you will certainly not want to miss are the Book of Kells and The Old Library. The queue to the great book will usually be quite long so make sure you arrive early or you will be standing around all day!river liffey

As you can imagine the architecture is very reminiscent of that of British universities, like Oxford and Cambridge.

This next one is a particular favourite of mine and I love bringing people here. It is the Casino Marino. From the outside it really isn’t anything very special to look at. And in my opinion this is one of the things that makes it so fascinating. It is certainly off the beaten track for most tourists.

Inside it as a wonder of architectural ingenuity. It looks small from outside but inside you realise that there is actually 3 large floors. The guides here are also incredible. Not only are they extremely knowledgeable but they also quite obviously love their job and are very enthusiastic. It serves to make the experience even more rich. Plus its only 4 euro. Sure you cant go wrong there! This is one thing that you can brag to your friends about and they’ll be very sad that they missed it (or more likely never even heard about it!).

Phew I finally got through it. I’ve been writing this article for what feels like days (well that’s probably because its has been days). I know I’ve left a few great places out and I’m sure people will be screaming in the comments about leaving out such and such. Being honest Dublin is such a great city that it can’t be done in 48 ours, it can’t even be done in a week. And don’t forget that Dublin is just one part of a great country! There is plenty more great stuff to see all over Ireland too.

There are also some great contractors and painters in Dublin too. If you are looking for one then check out the best painting service in Dublin, Painterly.

Please like and share this article as doing so makes the site (and my head) grow faster.

Thank you!

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Celebrate Saint Patrick’s Day in Dublin March 8, 2017

dublin building When people ask me what the best time of the year to go to Ireland is, I invariably tell them it has got be Saint Patrick’s Day weekend. There is nothing more Irish and there is no time when people are more proud of being Irish and their heritage than this day. It’s a day that often turns into a full weekend but has something for every member of the family to enjoy. It caters to everyone and no matter what your tastes are, you’ll find something to please every member of the family, young or old.

Each year Dublin regularly attracts well over 100 thousand visitors, often not just from all over Ireland, but indeed from all over the world. It is the day when everyone wants to be Irish and everyone qualifies.

You’ll hear people who once had an uncle who had a sister who’s friend had a dog who fell into a pile of shamrocks, claim that is enough to say they have Irish descendants and are thus 100% Irish. Thankfully us Irish are an easy going bunch and don’t mind anyone wanting to join in the fun. The more the merrier as we do often say.

This year Saint Patrick’s Day falls on a Friday and as it’s a national holiday, that can only mean one thing. Long weekend! (Or very long weekend if you decide to take off the Monday as well or if you’re so hungover that you NEED to take it off 🙂 ) I’m sure there will be more than a few people swearing off the drink forever (or at least for a few days anyways).

It isn’t just the famous parade though. and it isn’t even just he city centre that gets to have all the fun. There are loads of great events being held, scattered all throughout the city and into the county.

The parade itself is certainly the most popular event. It regularly attracts upwards of 500,000 people (a staggering number) and this year it is expected to be even higher (weather permitting of course). As always it starts in Parnell Square at midday. Of course if you want to get a prime viewing spot you’ll need to be in place at 10AM at the very latest. Any later than that and you’ll be better off to get over to where the parade customarily ends, in St Patrick’s Cathedral.

dublin churchAs you’d expect its a monster parade lasting a long time. If you’ve never seen it before then you may be surprised that it’s not all about celebrating Ireland and everything Irish. In fact there is always a very eclectic mix of floats from all of the country and the world. Some  of the floats seem like something that would be at home in Carnivale!

Friday nights and Saturday is typically a time for the adults, but the fun picks up again on Sunday for all the little ones. Merrion Square, besides being a beautiful part of the city in its own right, will be hosting a family oriented afternoon full of performances, singing, dancing, magic shows and more.

If you are eager for a pint then you’ll be at home in any part of the city to be honest. But if you really want to get caught in the city’s biggest tourist trap then hit Temple Bar. Its where you’ll find a lot more tourists than locals. Locals tend not to drink there as it is much more expensive and often very crowded. But its nice to have a pint or two there for the experience. Especially on Saint Patrick’s Day of all days. I believe that it is also one of the best places in the city to listen to some excellent traditional music being played for free.

If a pint isn’t really your thing and you are more into health, fitness and sport then you need to be in Croke Park. an incredible 80,000 seater stadium that rivals some of the very biggest in the world. Here is where the two finals of the All-Ireland Club Championships in both hurling and Gaelic football. It’s the culmination of many, many months of blood, sweat and tears (and that’s just the fans!).

Both are fantastic sports to watch and if you are a tourist you’ll likely have never seen them being played before either. Hurling is in fact the fastest (non motorsport) sport in the world so it is very heavy on the action and excitement.

Also incredibly, these athletes are all amateur. They do it not for fame, money or glory but purely for the love of the game and the love of their club. You can see the fighting spirit in every man as they battle for supremacy on the field. It truly is different when a man s fighting for something inexplicable deep inside of him.

After the mayhem of Friday night you may want to spread your wings a bit and get out of the city for the day. Dublin, being one side of the sea, has numerous places along the coast which offer breathtaking views. So breathtaking in fact that his is where many of Ireland’s wealthiest people live. One of the prime locations is Howth. Many people have holiday homes here and if the day is sunny (a  big IF mind you) , then this is where you want to be.

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48 Hours in Dublin Part 1

dublin spireDublin is a beautiful city on the bank of the river Liffey. There have been people living along these banks for well over a thousand years. There were early settlements that even predate the Viking landings. It’s a city that underwent huge change in the last 20 years, primarily due to the building boom (those years were often referred to as the Celtic Tiger)

But like many old European cities it has managed to maintain its old-time feel and the culture has been preserved immaculately. It’s a perfect mix of the old and the new. The planners and locals here have shunned the large high-rises all too common in other first world cities. This is what has allowed the city to remain so beautiful. Albeit at the expense of chronic traffic problems that don’t now seem to be solvable.

So it’s clear nobody can deny that over the past ten to fifteen years Dublin has gone through a very rough ride. It started with a huge debt fueled housing boom, where even your average Joe on the street had a second home or a holiday home in Marbella or the south of France.

And it ended at a recession so deep it nearly become a depression. The crash caused many families to be nearly crushed under heavy debt. They were forced to sign onto social welfare and had to drastically cut back on spending. They had to completely cut back on anything but the barest of essentials.

In recent years thankfully, austerity has loosened her steely grip on the country and times are starting to improve once again.

Of course many are still nervous and jittery. They remember the feelings of desperation and pain, of having to watch their friends, family and loved ones emigrate to the likes of Canada, Australia and England for work. But generally the country and certainly Dublin City feels slightly more upbeat than before. Some can even be heard whispering that the good times are on the way.

But even though the times are a little easier, there’s a hesitation to go back to the flamboyant times of the early 2000’s when it seemed like everyone was living in a mansion, with a Mercedes and Range Rover Sport parked outside.

Now tastes are a little simpler. Gone are the overpriced dishes and fancy cocktails. Replaced instead with a much more down to earth, pint and much less pretentious, albeit still very tasty dishes focusing on Irish, locally-sourced ingredients.

Today I’ve compiled a great list of places to visit. If you only have 48 hours or less to spend in this great city, then these are the sites and scenes you should prioritise above the rest.

The first has absolutely got to be the National Museum of Ireland. It’s 100% free (even though its absolutely worth paying for). It’s so vast and interesting that it’s even worth revisiting multiple times.

Although if you are only here for a short while you wont have that luxury. So if I were you I would make sure you first see the bog men and women. they are people who were sacrificed and thrown into bogs in various parts of the country. They have been preserved to an incredible level and are a very remarkable site indeed. There are also huge troves of treasures from swords and jewelry, some dating back as far as the bronze age and to times when Vikings roamed these parts of the world.

All in all a very interesting site to behold and something that is not to be missed. it’s also conveniently located as there is a LUAS stop right outside of it.

Many readers of my blog will know about my love of craft beer (well maybe some of you would argue that it would be better described as an obsession at this stage!). So it always make me smile to see craft beers becoming more and more popular. I’ve been championing the cause for years and now I can go down to any local bar and have a wide range of of local drinks to choose from including many different ales and ciders.

The risk that you run when dealing with the craft beer scene is that it can be quite pretentious. The belief that you are somehow superior to someone because of the very specific, not well known (and expensive) beer you drink is utterly ridiculous, but all too common. I stay well away from that nonsense and if you want to avoid it too then you should check out Against the Grain. It’s a place where all the airs of superiority are done away with. The atmosphere is warm and friendly and these guys love nothing more than a new face, fresh to the scene looking to taste some new beers or better yet even get involved. They’re not badly priced either and even more importantly this pub has got a great location. It’s easy to get to with some great restaurants in the surrounding area for that late night snack.

Next on my list just for some variety is a wonderful little restaurant called The Green Hen. It’s a sort of mix between Irish and classic French cuisines. Now I’m no foodie, but i have been fortunate enough to eat in some Michelin-star restaurants in the past and I’ll tell you this for nothing, the food here beats them all hands down. It’s also pretty good value. 40 Euro gets you a solid feed. Their specialty, and something you absolutely must try, is their dark bread made from a thick treacle and of course good old Guinness. It sounds strange I’ll admit, but it’s taste great. Well worth adding to your list.

Let’s get back onto more things to do for history buffs like myself now, with a visit to the iconic GPO. It’s just a simple post office on the inside today, but on the outside many bullet holes and other marks can be seen. Left over evidence of a shootout that occurred here just over a century ago. Here was the headquarters of the 1916 Easter Rising. This is regarded as the very start of the push to banish the British from Ireland and for the Irish to take back control of their lands.

Following on from that and still firmly on the trail of the 1916 Rising, you should visit Kilmainham Gaol. Here is where many of the the leaders of the Irish Rebellion against the British in 1916, were executed. It has a dark and checkered past and was originally built in 1796 to house wrongdoers and political opponents. In recent years movies have been filmed here too. If you are an avid film-goer you may recognise it the second you step inside.

Wow I didn’t expect to write so much. But I tell you what, I haven’t even gotten to some of my very favourite places yet. I’ll leave this article for now as it’s already getting quite long. Instead I’ll turn this into a two part article (maybe even a three part article actually) and I’ll be posting the second part of this amazing trip down memory lane, tomorrow.

Chat to you guys very soon indeed.

PS Check out this awesome video that a few of my friends put together titled “25 Things to do in Dublin”. There’s a few golden nuggets in there.

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