aNewDomain — Right after St. Patrick’s Day many travelers’ minds turn to Ireland. Makes sense. If you’re planning a trip to the Emerald Isle any time soon, Dublin has to be high on your list. The capital city is filled with friendly people, interesting sights and more pubs than anyone would have time to visit. Unless, of course, you’re really committed to drinking.
There is more to do than imbibe in Dublin, and, with that in mind, we offer a primer on enjoyable activities in a really fun city.
Book of Kells
Located on the cobblestone grounds of Trinity College, a must-see attraction itself, the Book of Kells is the highlight of the school’s beautiful library and a true national treasure. The illuminated manuscript, written in Latin, features all four gospels of the New Testament. It’s believed to have been created in 800 AD in a monastery in either Britain or Ireland. Viewers can see all four volumes online, but, as is the case with most art, viewing it in person is much more satisfying.
When in Dublin, it’s hard to escape the Guinness brand. That’s all right, because the storehouse is a living testament to one of the world’s finest brews. It’s also a great place to see how the ruby red stuff is brewed, marvel how tough it is to draw (pour) a pint and witness the development of an iconic brand. The Gravity Bar, a 360-degree view of Dublin from the top of the storehouse, is a good place to pass the time while enjoying a pint, which is complementary with your admission ticket. Talk about saving the best for last. By the way, if you book your ticket online, you pick up a 10 percent savings on admission. More beer for you!
St. Stephen’s Green
A lovely city center park, St. Stephen’s Green is more than 22 acres of public space. Make a checklist and tick off all the statues and sculptures you see in the park, including the famous one of Oscar Wilde. St. Stephen’s Green has been open since 1880 and is the country’s best-known Victorian public park. There are more than 3.5 kilometers of walking paths from which to take in beautiful greenery from early spring to late autumn.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
A part of Dublin history since the late 12th century, St. Patrick’s is one of two Church of Ireland cathedrals. Built on the site of Ireland’s patron saint, the cathedral stands near the well where St. Patrick reportedly baptized converts during his visits to Dublin. Also known as the National Cathedral, St. Patrick’s wonders can be seen for just a small donation (around $5.50 for adults). The stained glass alone is well worth the admission price. Guided tours are given every day but Sunday at 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m.
Old Jameson Distillery
Anyone with a taste for Irish Whiskey should make time for this attraction, which opened in 1997. The distillery is located on the grounds of the original site where Jameson Whiskey was distilled from 1780 to 1971. Much like the Guinness Storehouse, the distillery is a marketing effort for a time-honored Irish brand. Tours include reconstructed scenes from the original distillery, exhibition areas and videos. A tour also includes the usual tasting, a real treat for people who appreciate fine liquor.
Located in the heart of the city, the zoo has animals from all over the world (including America). Come all the way to Ireland to see things you could check out in the U.S.? Why not? Advertised as one of the most popular visitor attractions in the country, the Dublin Zoo is a great place to take the family for an educational day of fun. More than 400 animals can be found here from all over the globe. The zoo’s web site has web cams for penguins and elephants and ways to “adopt” animals.
National Gallery of Ireland
The gallery is home to the country’s national collection of Irish and European art. There are more than 15,000 paintings, sculptures, works on paper and other art objects from the 13th to mid-20th centuries housed here. The National Portrait Collection dates to 1875 and the Guinness family (as is the case throughout Dublin) played a role in amassing the works. The gallery is undergoing refurbishments and will last until into next year. Paintings and sculptures come from across Europe and include works from the Dutch Masters to more modern work from the early 20th century.
National Botanic Garden
Located just 3 kilometers from Dublin’s city center, the garden is home to more than 20,000 living plants and millions of dried specimens. The facility was founded in 1795 by the Dublin Society and is headquarters to the National Botanic Gardens of Ireland. Better yet, there is no entry fee.
This is the place to go if you’re a serious or even window shopper. Both iconic Irish and worldwide brands are represented along this pedestrian-only street. Beautiful architecture, excellent restaurants and street musicians make this destination a must-visit for any Ireland-bound traveler.
A pedestrian bridge built over the River Liffey in 1816, the bridge got its name because it once cost a pence and a half to cross it. The toll lasted a century before being dropped in 1919. Once the site for visitors to place their love locks on it (a tradition carried out across Europe, much to the dismay of local governments), more than 300 kilograms of locks were removed three years ago. True confession: My wife and I placed a love lock on a bridge in Amsterdam in 2013. Yes, we are part of the problem.
Photos of the Ha’penny Bridge, the Guinness Storehouse, St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Grafton Street by Jolene Campbell.