Dublin is vibrant, alive, creative and historical all at the same time. The irresistible city of Dublin has so much to offer and does so with a slow pace and kind heart. Dublin feels like a small town even though its population is 1.2 million people. Easy to get around, great food, wonderful local pubs and incredible history make Dublin a must see city in Europe.
We stayed in the heart of the city on Anger Street close to St. Stephens Green. Located so close to everything we were able to walk everywhere which was fantastic. The architecture in Dublin wasn’t the most impressive of the European cities, instead it offers an unassuming attitude where people just seem to be enjoying life.
Restaurants and pubs in Dublin are generally small. This makes each experience feel more intimate. Finally I had found the local pub I had been seeking our entire trip. On our second night at our newly found pub we were seated in stools at a table drinking Guiness and Baileys, watching a soccer game when a group of people came over and sat in the corner surrounding us. Without realizing it they had engulfed us in their group. In true Irish fashion they just offered us some of the food they had brought, and invited us into their little party.
In Dublin we finally found a Doyle pub. J. was in heaven as we went to have a pint and lunch. The owners talked about the Doyle family name, took pictures with him behind the bar and gave him a hat as a show of “family” pride. There is something really cool about getting back to the root of the roots of your family. A sense of belonging you never knew you were missing. We purchased a bunch of Doyle SWAG and headed out to visit one of the places I have been most excited about.
Trinity College Library
Trinity College Library has been on my list of things to see since my sister visited Dublin 10 years ago. It has taunted me from Pinterest, Instagram and Twitter for years. I am a very proud Book Worm with a special love for libraries. On top of that I love a well designed building. Trinity library has all of it in the most elegant display I have ever seen.
I would recommend buying tickets online to avoid a line to get in. The Book of Kells was on display which was absolutely fantastic. The drawings and calligraphy were exceptional. Even though it wasn’t very crowded the day we were there this was extremely overcrowded. It was difficult to find a place to see the book itself. No one was there to form people into a line so it became quite competitive for people trying to see. In fact J. just stepped back and gave up.
From the Book of Kells we walked up the stairs to the library. Dark wood ceilings and bookshelves cover the buildings structure. It is a massive room with beautifully bound books, dark wood ladders and glass display cases lining the interior space. As I walked slowly through, surrounded by all of this knowledge and creativity I became more and more reluctant to leave. I lingered over the Oscar Wilde displays and grinned at his incredible wit. Trinity College library is so inviting and spectacular I noticed I was not alone in walking through the space in complete awe.
Dublin Castle & Charles Beatty Library
Dublin’s castle is worth a visit for sure. We toured the interior, which was much larger and grander than we had expected. It is full of historical information. Around the back of the castle is the Charles Beatty library.
Books in this library come from all over the world. It is the largest collection of antique books in the world. In fact, some of the oldest books in existence are on display here. Displays in this library are done to perfection. Room after room is filled with books open to display the beautiful art, calligraphy or craftsmanship.
My favorite was a parchment book which took 40 years to reassemble due to the age and disrepair. Many of the pieces of this book were as small as grains of rice. The assembly of the book had been commissioned in Germany before World War 2. As the war closed in on the gentleman and his son who were commissioned with the work they fled the country, but took the book and its pieces with them, their dedication to finishing the job was so great. Treasures like this fill the Charles Beatty library along with rotating art displays. Inside there is also an elegant café serving light food and coffee if you wish to take a break.
Temple Bar is known for its pubs and music scene but I found it to be very touristy, as warned by locals throughout our travels, so we decided to find more authentic pubs to listen to local Irish music. Man am I glad we did. Aside from the two very drunk girls from New York who kept bumping up against us and harassing this guy, until the bartenders politely suggested they leave, the night was perfect. Sitting in the corner of the pub were two men and a woman each with their own variety of instruments and microphones. Some of the songs they sang and some were purely instrumental, and each of them was accompanied by the clapping and/or singing of the crowd. The battered wood floors, dark paneled walls, surly Irish staff made the evenings spent there full of warmth and laughter.
During the day we did walk through the Temple Bar area to check out the iconic pubs, walk along the river and do some shopping in a few of the boutiques there. It is a quaint and colorful area well worth a stroll. There are a few really good souvenir shops in the area selling different products than we had seen anywhere else. Essex Street has some great shopping, including one of my favorite stores in Dublin, Scout.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
One afternoon we walked over to St. Patrick’s cathedral. I need to warn you beforehand that J. and I suffer from church burnout. After having traveled so much in Europe we have seen more than our fair share of churches, and while they are all beautiful it takes quite a bit to really move us at this point. St. Patrick’s cathedral is set off on its own in the city, away from the other tourist attractions. The grey façade is quite understated even on this grand building in the middle of the city. The interior is a bit underwhelming compared to many of the churches we have seen over the years. This is typical of Ireland though, not a lot of flash but a good solid building that lasts 800-900 years. We did enjoy the history and monuments in the cathedral so take your time and check them all out.
Dublin is home to the National Museum of Ireland. I desperately wanted to visit this museum to see the Bog Bodies exhibit. Bog bodies sound like a really bizarre thing to want to see and they are bizarre but seriously they were so interesting and worth the time as we have never seen anything like them before.
Bog bodies are dead people found in bogs in Denmark, Germany, Ireland, Britain and the Netherlands. Their bodies were preserved in the bogs some dating back as far as 400 BC. The display is made up of both women and men. Their preserved bodies have fingernails, skin and other distinguishing features we would never see on bodies this old. Most of the bodies markings reveal how the people died (which was usually in a brutal way). As strange or morose as it may sound it was incredibly fascinating to see the bodies, still covered in skin which now resembles a dark leather. Standing in front of each body you can see what they would have looked like, how tall they would have been, they suddenly stop being exhibits and start being humans. The bodies are so well preserved we know what many of them ate as their last meals.
The museum is a large and beautiful building housing many beautiful exhibits which are well worth the time to see. If you go make sure to check out the architectural details of the building itself and not just the exhibits.
We were there in the end of October so it was chilly and grey everyday, yet we were still able to enjoy all that Dublin would reveal in the six days of our trip. Our six days were relaxed and enjoyable. Immediately we felt at home and at ease in Dublin.
Great Places To Eat And Drink:
There are good restaurants and great local pubs on South Great Georges Street/Aungier Street. We listened to music and visited some pubs on Exchequer St, Drury St and South William Street Quarter.