Patrick St. and St. Patrick’s Close
St. Patrick’s is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It’s believed St. Patrick himself baptized people on the site of the church around 445. Construction of the current cathedral began in the 1200s, and it had a major renovation in the 1800s. The building has withstood wind storms, fire and tumultuous times. You can admire the Gothic workmanship and visit the tomb of “Gulliver’s Travels” author Jonathan Swift.
As with many sites of this type, you might want to come early in the morning and soak in the atmosphere in relative peace before the crowds arrive.
Bachelors Walk / Wellington Quay
This modest cast-iron bridge over the River Liffey has become the symbol of Dublin, with its ornate design and quaint lampposts. The Ha’penny Bridge is so named for the toll of one halfpenny originally charged to cross it.
Before it was a tourist attraction, the Ha’Penny Bridge was a welcome addition for working folks. When it was built in 1816, the Ha’penny Bridge was the first iron bridge across the Liffey. Before its construction, most pedestrians had to ferry across the river.
Merrion Square West
Ireland is a country known for its literary contributions, but don’t overlook its contributions to the artistic world, many of which are housed here in the National Gallery. It houses a number of works by Rembrandt, Goya and Monet.
The collection’s 15,000 Irish and European works date from the 13th to mid-20th centuries and include paintings, prints and national portraits. Particularly prized is the Yeats Collection, comprising works and other materials related to Irish painter Jack B. Yeats, brother of poet and playwright W.B. Yeats.
Custom House Quay
One of the most devastating periods in Irish history was the Great Famine of the 1840s. Ireland’s population of 8.4 million had fallen to 6.6 million by 1851. Even today, the country has never returned to its pre-blight numbers. Many Irish fled to the New World. The Jeanie Johnston was one of the ships sailing the Atlantic to take people to new lives. It made its maiden voyage on April 24, 1848, from Ireland to Quebec, and over the next seven years, 15 more voyages were made — with no loss of life. You can board the restored ship and see the difficult conditions which these emigrants sailed.
You’re in Europe. It’s hard to resist a good castle. And you have one right in the heart of Dublin. And like all good castles, it has a storied history — from its start in the 1200s on the site of a Viking settlement to 1922, when it was handed over to the new Irish government after independence from the United Kingdom.
Fire in 1684 damaged a good bit of the medieval castle, and in reconstruction, parts of it took on the look of a Georgian palace, making for an interesting mix of styles today.
Grafton Street and St. Stephen’s Green
Though you’ll have chances to see so many beautiful shades of green throughout Ireland, don’t pass up the chance to enjoy the green of this park in the heart of Dublin (and across the street from our Shelbourne Hotel) A treasured part of the city for centuries, the park has important sculptures of major figures in Irish history as well as exquisitely maintained Victorian grounds in the center. Sycamores and other trees line the perimeter to help buffer city noise, and it’s a haven for birds as well as people. Look for robins, wrens, magpies and even birds of prey.
Merrion St Upper
This museum opened in 1857 and has been educating visitors about the natural world ever since.
On the ground floor, the Irish room is dedicated to mammals, birds, fish and insects native to the island. And in other exhibits, you’ll find stuffed creatures of the not-so-native kind: an elephant, a polar bear and lions, among others. The museum has a reading room if you wish to learn more.
To avoid weekend crowds, the museum advises coming Tuesday through Friday.
Drury and Wicklow Streets
For eating, drinking, shopping and ambling, skip the tourist-heavy Temple Bar area and center yourself around Drury Street, a few streets west of Grafton Street.
You can browse the quirky shops and stalls in George’s Street Arcade, pick up some classy souvenirs at the Irish Design Shop and Industry and Co, then stop for refreshments at Kaph or Blazing Salads. Venerable drinking spots such as The Hairy Lemon, Grogans, The Long Hall and the Central Hotel’s Library Bar are all within stumbling distance, as well as younger upstarts such as Fade Street Social.
Trinity’s Long Room in the Old Library is filled with 200,000 books. A must-stop for any first-timer to Dublin, Trinity College is the equivalent of Ireland’s Ivy League university. Its Old Library is truly a sight to behold: stacks upon stacks of teetering ancient wooden bookshelves that seem to go on and up for miles.
Admission includes a visit to the Book of Kells, an ornate manuscript of the Gospels, which Celtic monks decorated by hand in the ninth century.
Grafton Street, start at Fusilier’s Arch
Here you’ll find shopping and people-watching. Dublin’s main shopping area runs right through the city center, south of the River Liffey. A pedestrian-only zone during business hours, Grafton Street owes much of its lovely ambiance to the red brick with which it was paved.
Stretching for several “blocks” — if Dublin had such things — Grafton Street is the Irish equivalent of a British high street, boasting many international and local stores and the famed Irish department.