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City Guides

Connoisseur’s Guide to Dublin

As one of Europe’s fastest expanding economic centres during the era of rapid expansion, Dublin’s (pop. 1.6 million) commercial and creative energy matched the vibrancy of its everyday life and hospitality. But if anything, the place is even more interesting in a time of marked economic adjustment, for within the modern development there is an old town where many meandering stories have interacted and combined to create today’s busy riverside and coastal metropolis. Through a wide variety of circumstances, it has become an entertaining place suited to the civilised enjoyment of life in the 21st Century. And part of the fascination of the place is found in Dubliners’ response to changed circumstances, for their city has known good times and bad.

With so much of it about, most Dubliners wear their city’s history lightly in an environment where the past lives with the present in ancient monuments, historic buildings, gracious squares and fine old urban style that still manages to be gloriously alive. This if anything is emphasised by the city’s modern architecture, seen particularly in the area around the International Financial Services Centre north of the river, and across the Liffey on George’s Quay.

Further impressive development has taken shape along both sides of the Liffey towards the Bay while the Port itself is busier than ever to add a touch of reality to the waterside glass towers.

The city and Ireland’s spirit is also expressed in the Gaelic Athletic Association’s impressive headquarters stadium at Croke Park which can accommodate over 80,000 spectators for several sports, while the legendary Lansdowne Road rugby stadium south of the river has been completely re-built as a 50,000 seater.

But where the residents saw some inconvenience in the river, the Vikings sensed an opportunity. When they brought their longships up the River Liffey around 837AD having first raided at nearby Lambay in 795, they knew of a sheltered berth in a place which the locals of the hurdle ford called Dubh Linn – “the black pool”. The Vikings settled along Wood Quay and around Dublin Castle.

Although the name of Ireland’s main Viking port was to go through mutations as the Vikings were succeeded in mnanagement by the Normans who in turn were in the business of becoming English and then more Irish than the Irish themselves, today’s name of Dublin is the one the Vikings came upon – though the pre-Viking Irish would have pronounced it as something more like “doo-lin”.

Located beside a wide bay with some extraordinarily handsome hills and mountains near at hand, the city has long had as an important part of its makeup the dictates of stylish living, and the need to cater efficiently for individual tastes and requirements.


TRANSPORT


Dublin Airport is located to the north of the city in County Dublin. It is about 15km (9 miles) from the centre of the city and is accessible via taxis or one of the many buses that travel the route. Traffic is an ongoing nightmare in Dublin so the journey time varies greatly depending on the time of day (30-60 minutes) although Quality Bus Corridors that take only buses and taxis has greatly improved journey times. An underground Metro has been sanctioned by the government and the Airport-City line is the first to be built. This will probably be finished around 2016 and will ensure a journey time to St. Stephen’s Green in the heart of the city of about 18 minutes.

If you are staying in Dublin City Centre and plan to loaf around the main sites in the city then walking will be your number one method of transport. There are also countless buses run by Dublin Bus and the more recent tram system called the LUAS that are suitable for short journeys in and around the city.

The DART is an electric train service that runs along the Eastern side of Dublin from Howth and Malahide in the north of the county to Bray and Greystones in the south. The DART has several city centre stops and is great for a day out to the suburbs where there are beaches, walks and activities aplenty.

In addition to public transport there has never been more taxi cabs in Dublin with over 12,000 official taxis and 1,200 hackneys serving all areas of Dublin. Basically Dublin is an easy enough place to get around, but we would recommend avoiding journeys during rush hour where possible as it can be a nightmare!

THE DUBLINER


Although some of the vitality of the city faded in the periods when the focus of power had been moved elsewhere, today Dublin thrives as one of Europe’s more entertaining capitals.

Such a city naturally has much of interest for historians of all kinds, and a vibrant cultural life is available for visitors and Dubliners alike. You can immerse yourself in it all as much or as little as you prefer, for today’s Dublin is a city for all times and all tastes.

It’s rather unfair of any Dubliner to dismiss Temple Bar’s bustling riverside hotbed of musical pubs, ethnic restaurants, cultural events and nightclubs as being no more than a tourist ghetto. After all, in addition to its many places of entertainment and hospitality, Temple Bar is also home to at least 1,300 people, and they’ve their own neighbourhood Food Fairs and Specialist Markets like all other Dublin villages, and these days a higher spirit of civic pride has resulted in cleaner streets and buildings.

So there’s real life here too. And at the very least, it is Temple Bar which maintains Dubliners’ international reputation as round-the-clock party animals, which they’re quite happy to acknowledge

Or perhaps your Dubliner is into sport – nearly everyone is. If it’s a stadium sport – fine, you pay your way in like everyone else. There’s horse racing and greyhound racing too. That’s where you’ll find today’s real Dubs enjoying their fair city every bit as much as city centre folk. That is, if they’re not sailing on The Bay or playing golf. There are so many golf links and courses that it might be possible to play from one side of the city to the other, and as for boating and sailing – well, Dublin is only half of a circle, the other half is the sea, and the interaction between the two is mighty, as they’d say in Dublin.

Happy is the visitor who is able to savour it all, in and around this town for our times.


10 of the Best Restaurants in Dublin


  1. 1) Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud
  2. 21 Upper Merrion Street Dublin 2
  3. Tel:+353 (0)1 676 4192

Ireland’s premier French restaurant – For over a quarter of a century this spacious, elegant French restaurant in a Georgian townhouse adjoining the Merrion Hotel has been the leading fine dining restaurant in Ireland.

  1. 2) Thornton’s
    128 St Stephen’s Green Dublin 2
    Tel:+353 (0)1 478 7008

Epicurean haven – With views overlooking St Stephen’s Green, Kevin and Muriel Thornton’s renowned restaurant is to be found on the top floor of the Fitzwilliam Hotel.

  1. 3) L’Ecrivain
  2. 109a Lower Baggot Street Dublin 2
    Tel:+353 (0)1 661 1919

Popular fine dining – Derry and Sallyanne Clarke’s acclaimed city centre restaurant is the destination of choice for many of Dublin’s most discerning diners, and equally popular with the business community and the social set.

  1. 4) Chapter One
    18/19 Parnell Square Dublin 1
    Tel:+353 (0)1 873 2266

Northside gem – In the former home of the great John Jameson of whiskey fame, resides one of Ireland’s finest restaurants in an arched basement beneath the Irish Writers museum.

  1. 5) One Pico
  2. 5-6 Molesworth Place Schoolhouse Lane , Dublin 2
    Tel:+353 (0)1 676 0300

Understated excellence – Quietly located in a laneway near St. Stephen’s Green, just a couple of minutes walk from Grafton Street, Eamonn O’Reilly’s newly refurbished One Pico is one of Dublin’s most popular fine dining restaurants.

  1. 6) Town Bar & Grill
    21 Kildare Street Dublin 2
    Tel:+353 (0)1 662 4800

Stylish food & people watching – Ronan Ryan’s New York/Italian style restaurant is located beneath Mitchell’s wine merchants remains a favourite destination for foodies out on the town, not least because the range of menus offered is so well designed to suit every time and occasion.

  1. 7) The Lobster Pot
    9 Ballsbridge Terrace Ballsbridge , Dublin 4
    Tel:+353 (0)1 660 9170

One of the oldest & best – On the first floor of a redbrick Ballsbridge terrace, this long-established restaurant has lost none of its charm or quality over the years, and now has a unique appeal as the experience is so different from contemporary restaurants.

  1. 8) Dax
    23 Upper Pembroke Street Dublin 2
    Tel:+353 (0)1 676 1494

Relaxed contemporary elegance – When Olivier Meisonnave named his appealing restaurant after his home town in Les Landes, it was the culmination of a longheld ambition. Flagged floors, light-toned walls and pale upholstery set off simple contemporary darkwood furniture, and it all adds up to this Dublin restaurants tone of relaxed contemporary elegance with more than a hint of rustic chic.

  1. 9) The Winding Stair
  2. 40, Lower Ormond Quay Dublin 1 Dublin City
  3. Tel:+353 (0)1 872 7320

Ingredients-led food & river view – This much-loved café and bookshop overlooking the Ha’penny Bridge re-opened in 2006 after a long closure and, to everybody’s delight, it has turned out to be better than ever.

10) Roly’s Bistro
7 Ballsbridge Terrace Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Tel:+353 (0)1 668 2611

A hit from day one – Paul Cartwright’s imaginative, reasonably priced seasonal menus please a large number of appreciative regulars at lunch and an early dinner, and also an evening à la carte menu


10 of the Best Places to Stay in Dublin


1) The Merrion Hotel
Upper Merrion Street Dublin 2
Tel:+353 (0)1 603 0600

Crème de la crème in the heart of Georgian Dublin – opposite Government Buildings, this luxurious hotel comprises four meticulously restored Grade 1 listed townhouses built in the 1760s and, behind them, a contemporary garden wing overlooks formal landscaped gardens.

2) The Fitzwilliam Hotel
St Stephens Green Dublin 2
Tel:+353 (0)1 478 7000

Urban chic overlooking St Stephen’s Green – If a comfortable city centre base is what you’re after, you won’t get more central than this stylish contemporary hotel, and, behind the deceptively low-key frontage (Luas station at the door), lies an impressively sleek interior – initially created by Sir Terence Conran’s design group.

3) Brooks Hotel
Drury Street Dublin 2
Tel:+353 (0)1 670 4000

Insider’s choice just a stroll from Grafton Street – One of Dublin’s most desirable addresses, especially for business guests, the Sinnott family’s discreetly luxurious hotel is a gem of a place.


4) Number 31
31 Leeson Close Lr Leeson Street , Dublin 2
Tel:+353 (0)1 676 5011

Relaxing & interesting city centre base – Formerly the home of leading architect, the late Sam Stephenson, Noel and Deirdre Comer’s hospitable ‘oasis of tranquillity and greenery’ just off St Stephen’s Green has undergone major refurbishment recently, and it makes a relaxing and interesting city centre base, with virtually everything within walking distance in fine weather.


5) Clarence Hotel
6-8 Wellington Quay Dublin 2
Tel:+353 (0)1 407 0800

Restored arts & crafts building with U2 connections – Dating back to 1852, this Dublin hotel has long had a special place in the hearts of Irish people – especially the clergy and the many who regarded it as a home from home when ‘up from the country’ for business or shopping in Dublin – largely because of its convenience to Heuston Station. Since the early ’90s, however, it has achieved cult status through its owners – Bono and The Edge of U2 – who have completely refurbished the hotel, sparing no expense to reflect the the hotel’s original arts and crafts style whenever possible.

6) Aberdeen Lodge
53 Park Avenue Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Tel:+353 (0)1 283 8155

Advantages of a boutique hotel at guesthouse prices – Centrally located (close to the Sydney Parade DART station) yet away from the heavy traffic of nearby Merrion Road, this handsome period house in a pleasant leafy street offers all the advantages of a hotel at guesthouse prices.

7) Glenogra House
64 Merrion Road Ballsbridge, Dublin 4
Tel:+353 (0)1 668 3661

Warm hospitality in leafy D4 – Conveniently located for the RDS and within 3 minutes walk of the Sandymount DART station, this well known guesthouse is run by the owners, Peter and Veronica Donohoe, who are doing an excellent job.

8) Trinity Lodge
12 South Frederick Street Dublin 2
Tel:+353 (0)1 617 0900

Georgian guest house just yards from Trinity College- This well-signed and attractively maintained guesthouse offers excellent location and a high standard of accommodation at a reasonable price.

9) The Gibson Hotel
Point Village Dublin 1
Tel:+353 (0)1 681 5000

Smart new hotel next to The O2 venue – The O2 has a new neighbour. Sitting right across The Point Square, a literal stone’s throw from its doors, is the brand new Gibson Hotel. Housed in a sparkling glass and steel building that fits right in with its shiny IFSC neighbours the glamorous new hotel has been designed to attract more then just business travellers.

10) King Sitric
East Pier Howth Co Dublin
Tel:+353 (0)1 832 5235

Harbourside restaurant with rooms a DART ride from the city – Named after an 11th century Norse King of Dublin who had close links with Howth, Aidan and Joan MacManus’ striking harbourside establishment is one of Dublin’s longest established fine dining restaurants with accommodation.

Top 10 Local Attractions


Christchurch Cathedral Christchurch Place, D8 +353 (0)1 677 8099

Dublin Castle Dame Street +353 (0)1 677 7129

Guinness Brewery St Jame’s Gate +353 (0)1 453 6700 ext 5155

Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery Parnell Square +353 (0)1 874 1903

Irish Museum of Modern Art/Royal Hospital Kilmainham +353 (0)1 671 8666

Kilmainham Gaol Kilmainham +353 (0)1 453 5984

National Gallery of Ireland Merrion Square West +353 (0)1 661 5133

National Museum of Ireland Kildare Street +353 (0)1 677 7444

Old Jameson Distillery Smithfield, Dublin 7 +353 (0)1 807 2355

Trinity College (Book of Kells & Dublin Experience) +353 (0)1 608 2308

Top Shopping


Grafton Street Area – Grafton Street is the main shopping street in Dublin, lined with shops containing all you could need in the clothes department from stores such as Marks & Spencers to designer shops, record stores and plenty of pubs and restaurants to take a break in.

St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre – Comfortable, three-storied shopping mall featuring shops and restaurants. A great place to make a bee-line for if the weather isn’t great.

Brown Thomas – THE department store to shop in while in Dublin.

Powerscourt Townhouse – This mini-mall was once the mansion of Lord Powerscourt. It contains jewellery shops, designer clothes shops and cafés, restaurants and bars.

Nightlife


There are two main nightclubs for the movers and shakers in Dublin – Lillies Bordello is just off the bottom of Grafton Street and is where the glitz and the glam, the rich and the famous converge to finish a night on the town. Their VIP area is legendary and if you happen to be in Dublin the night of a big gig or match you will not be able to move for celebrities having a good night out. Across the other side of St. Stephen’s Green the newer Krystle on Harcourt Street is a sleek, appealing venue with a cosy bar area and a heated Mediterranean-style veranda that has become the in place to see and be seen in Dublin. The crowd is mainly composed of young, well-groomed media and fashion types.

Dublin City guide information provided by Georgina Campbell’s www.ireland-guide.com.

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Aksel Ritenis

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