What can I tell you about Dublin?
- Dubliners are proud. In the beautiful words of James Joyce, “When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart”. We have been through tough times, and the sense of community and working together to sustain an incredible city is one of the things I treasure.
- People are heartwarmingly friendly. If you are lost, ask for help. If you are looking for recommendations, ask for them. We will point you in the right direction. And give you a smile while we are at at.
- Don’t forget about our coastline! Hop on the train and go either direction. You can’t lose. We have some of the most beautiful fishing villages and crisp salty water that is dying for you to hop into.
As I write this I am sitting in one of my favourite places in the whole city. The upstairs of Kaph is my haven to people watch. To write. To read. To think. To cry and to laugh. As I ordered my coffee I chatted with the barista who told me that her table is the one by the stairs. Mine is the window seat. This area of the city is deeply historic and from this spot I can look out onto Drury Street and marvel at the contrast between the deep blue sky and the red tops of the Georgian buildings that align the neighbouring streets. I feel invisible. I look down at the people walking past and wonder where they are going. How has their day been so far? How are they feeling?
Having spent years living away from Dublin, I have really only discovered my city over the past two years. Today, I love being a part of an urban community and I am an incredibly proud Dubliner. I constantly tell myself how lucky I am to live within a 15 minute walk of the city centre.
Home is where the heart is, and my heart is my family and friends and this city. I love nothing more than showing people around my hometown and I quite literally will force recommendations on visitors! So here we go ….
- As cliche as it sounds, you must enjoy at least one pint of Guinness in Dublin. But you do not have to go to the Guinness Storehouse. Honestly, I would avoid it. Instead, grab a stool outside Grogans and order a pint of the black stuff and a toastie. If you fancy a bit of a pub crawl Peter’s Pub and The Long Hall are close by. Top spots for a pint.
- Kilmainham Gaol is my number one recommendation for anyone interested in Irish history, followed closely by Glasnevin Cemetery. Both offer amazing tour guides who are completely engrained in the past. The toasties and Guinness are also amazing at The Gravediggers Pub beside the Cemetery (this pub dates back to 1833 and is a hidden gem).
- On the topic of hidden gems, a walk along South Wall is so special that I actually rarely tell people about it for fear that the masses will descend. Time it well and watch the sunset over the city.
You don’t need to spend a fortune to discover Dublin, and it is small enough to walk around in a day. All you need is an open mind and eyes, and some good music helps. Another gorgeous walk to do is along the Grand Canal.
Portobello Bridge (along the Canal) is home to a tribe of stubbornly beautiful swans that delight and terrify locals and tourists in equal measure. I love how proud these magnificent creatures are. If you do end up at Portobello Bridge make sure to pop the head in to O’Connell’s, popular with locals and a “real” pub.
4. I grew up by the sea, and am a real water baby. A dip in the sea may not be something you immediately think about when planning a trip to Dublin, but you won’t regret it (yes, it is very cold). Two options for a sea swim that can be accessible via train are 1) Forty Foot 2) The Vico. The local community at the Forty Foot are so friendly you will think you have known them all your lives, and people swim here all year round. Wetsuits are scoffed at. The Vico is difficult to find and is kept secret by locals so you will need to plan your route well. It is a slice of paradise.
5. Dublin is home to the best independent coffee shops and visitors must try at least two or three. I am a complete coffee snob, and I am happy out in any one of the following: 3FE, Network, Love Supreme, Two Pups, Grove Road (a stone’s throw from my house and a place I fondly refer to as “my kitchen”).
Please do not go to Starbucks.
6. I’m still not quite sure what “Irish cuisine” actually is, but I do know that the food scene in Dublin has had a huge overhaul in recent years. With the recession came a demand for good quality food at good prices, and we are spoilt with options. I turned completely vegetarian on January 1st this year, and the one thing I still crave is a Bunsen burger. All jokes aside, I almost have to cross the road when I pass it. I have pizza from Blue Bus Pizza at the Bernard Shaw at least once a week. Brunch from the Cake Cafe is inventive and delicious. As is Meet Me In The Morning (insta-heaven).
The veggie Nasi Goreng from Neon is so good that I force people to order it (quite literally). The Ramen Bar is super cool and almost as good as the real deal. I very, very rarely go for “fancy” dinners, but slightly more upmarket places (i.e. not pizza or burger joints) that I rate are Drury Rooms and Coppinger Row.
7. Music is an important part of Irish heritage. We are a nation of storytellers and poets, and music and song is an important channel of communication for us. If you are looking for proper traditional music, The Stag’s Head has a great live session on Saturday nights that kicks off at 10pm. Whelans has live music almost every night of the year, and is a great shout. You are always guaranteed a good DJ at Tengu Bar and the Bernard Shaw.
8. I grew up in Howth, and it is here where we will end our grand tour. Whenever I need a break from the city I hop on the train and take myself out of the fast pace for a day or two. Every weekend Howth is visited by hundreds of tourists eager to spot the infamous seals that hang out at the Harbour in anticipation of scraps. There is a cute market, fish and chips and great pubs. The cliff walks are breathtaking and will blow away any cobwebs!
Dublin is scrappy, brave and passionate, like many of its inhabitants. As you explore our streets, look up, smile and connect with people. We won’t bite!