Off the beaten track, Dublin
Taxes. We have (and hate) them today, and so did our ancestors in the medieval times of early Dublin. Those who lived inside the castle walls paid for the additional protection with taxes levied upon them and rules governing their actions.
Those not within the walled confines however, were not as restricted or subject to taxation. They lived in what was then and still is called "The Liberties".
Ehm... I know, I know, this isn't only Dublin but also other Counties... sorry!
I suggest that you should visit the Cliffs of Moher in County Claire, Powerscourt Waterfall in County Wicklow, The Torc Waterfall in Killarney and the great Kilkenny Castle! (amongst the other things)
Fondest memory: The University College of Dublin... Horse riding and bed-breakfasting in Kinnitty Castle... Staying in Kilkenny's Hilton... seeing the dolphin in Dingle... sorry, there is too many!
Directly across the street from the Rotunda and Ambassador Theatre is the Parnell Mooney Pub, a place where we had an extremely good night after the Proclaimers concert. I highly recommend this pub after 10:00 pm. Great people and great Guiness. Damn good place.
If you het lost, the man himself, Charles Stewart Parnell will assist with a helpful point in the right direction!
The area bounded between King Street at the south, Grafton Street to the east, South great Georges Street to the west and Dame Street to the north is, in my opinion, a spectacular neighborhood. The Castle Bar is located in here, where we met Lochlainn Tuesday evening, as are several other great pubs, Powerscourt, and an excellent chochoalte store. We spent a lot of time in this part of town.
The whole area is interesting and worth an entire trip to Dublin in itself. The following six or seven photos will show you bits and pieces of this neighborhood.
This is Butler's Chocholate Cafe, the greatest chocholate cafe anywhere. Everything they offer in here is superb, making it a dangerous place if you're interested in maintaining your weight! It's a beautiful, popular little store, filled with people and always busy.
There was a famous, politically powerful familiy of Butlers from the Norman invasion in Ireland up until the late 1700, when they suddenly disappereard. I'll have to find if this store bears a relationship to these famous Butlers.
Fondest memory: William and Wicklow Streets form a good epicenter for this area. The street is always bustling with people either moving to and from their work, a few scattered tourists (like myself) and serious pubbers hurrying off to their hideaway and pints.
J. Grogans, on William Street, is one of the few remaining old guard Dublin pubs, unchanged for decades.
Most of the pubs in Dublin's city center modernize to attract the vitality and money of a younger crowd, to the chagrin of the older purists. After sitting in Grogans for a few hours' of exceptional talks with Marc, I certainly understand why peope want to retain the authentic city center pubs. They connect us to a historic legacy that is lost in the glitz and lights of the modern commercialist pubs.
Fondest memory: There is still a wealth of authentic pubs to be found in the outter suburbs of Dublin. I found several along Phibsboro Road and Glasnevin while walking those areas. There were lots more I saw en route to the airport towards the north eastern side of town as well, so the tradition of Dublin pubs may still survive, although those in the city center are becoming fewer and farther between.
Favorite thing: Directly to the west and adjacent to the Ambassador, north west (left) of the Parnell Monument on Parnell Street is the Lying In Hospital. This facility was founded in 1745 by Bartholomew Mosse, and has been providing maternity services to Irish women in this location since 1757. VT’s own Marc O’Loughlain, (Locahlainn) came into the world in this hospital back when even he, as incredible as it may seem, was a little tiny infant!!! I have a vision of tiny little Marc, nestled snug in his basonnette, calmly smoking a cig and telling the nurse to bring him another pint....NOW!!!!!
One of the great Dublin pubs is "the Long Hall", off South Great George's Street. As you can see in the attacxhed photo, this area of Dublin is undergoing referbishment, as has so many of the central Dublin neighborhoods. Many Dubliners complain that the city has lost its great architectural treasures over time, and has transformed into mediocore homogeneity. I didn't quite see it that way while there and fully enjoyed the flavor of the city. I can see why the old hands would complain though, and would love to have lived there in her grand old delapidated, smoke filled glory.
She's still a grand old gal today though, regardless of the old guard's annoyance with "progress". Take a stroll down South Great George's for an authentic Long Hall pint when you're here. You'll see what the old timers mean about the grand old days.
Take a daytrip to the Wicklow Mountains. The area has some of the most beautiful gardens you've ever seen - within a short drive of dublin! Driving thru this area can take some time but its beautiful!
Fondest memory: We were driving thru the mountains in a heavy misty fog - you couldn't see more than a few feet ahead...We were looking for Powerscourt gardens. Finally we saw a sign indicating we were within 3 km of our goal. Driving on thru the mist, we drove, and drove, and drove...til we saw a sign for Dublin again! We missed our turn off for Powerscourt and in the fog came down the other side of the mountain approaching Dublin.
After a full day visiting gardens in the rain we spent the evening in the town of Avoca of Ballykissangel fame.
In the Boyne Valley (!!!)
A famouse passage tomb.
Fondest memory: This monumental tomb is to be seen, at December equinox the sun at midday reaches the center of the tomb, through a little window over the entrance, along the corridor inside, till the center of the hill on the ground.
Learn how to SAY 'Howth' like a local!
Do the Guinness thing (and taste the black stuff!)
Talk to locals.
The Abbey Tavern is, of course, the main reason anyone who is a beer drinker visits Howth.
It's easy to get to Howth - you can take the DART or a bus from Dublin City Centre. I recommend the train - it's quick and simple, and relatively frequent. From the Train station, it's a short hike up a hill to the Pub on a back street - next to the old Abbey ruins, of course!
'Fraid I can't tell you much more about Howth itself, except it has a small picturesque harbour, because I've never got any further than the Pub!
You'll find a warm cozy peat-burning fire on the main level to sit by during the often cool days while you nurse your Guinness. There are two other areas besides the main level bar area, and these serve meals and provide the scene for the famous Abbey Tavern Singers shows.
Fondest memory: Family is the reason I have visited Dublin recently. However, even though two of my grandsons were born in Dublin, my family is now safely ensconced in Canada, and there is no reason for me to visit this interesting City any more. But I'm always looking for excuses!
Favorite thing: KILLENEY HILLS - Make a trip with Dart or bus in the villages north of Dublin - Dun Laghaire - Killeney - Bray and Greystone! I made this tour on one day and I hiked in the Killeney Hills (between Dun Laghaire and Killeney - excellent view and natural ways) and from Bray to Greystone (Cliffwalk - but on the one side you will see the mountains and on the other side the abyss and the sea) It´s a little bit stress to make this tour on one day but I can recommend it!
Visit Ireland's Eye - a small island just off the coast of Dublin. The nearby Howth is also well worth a stroll.
I'm really just adding this tip to the general section because I'm so in love with this beautiful little island.
Seabirds such as Kittiwakes, Fulmars, Gannets, Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills and numerous Gulls regularly roost on the impressive cliffs of the island.
Fondest memory: We were sent off to the west coast of Ireland for a day & night. We went to the Dingle Penninsula, off of Tra Li. It was absolutely freezing and desolate. Our B&B was great though - Murphy's Pub. In the morning I had wild Dingle salmon for breakfast. It was the best smoked salmon I've ever had. Dingle is all fishing village, not much else to do besides drink and listen to the great performers. So we did.
Favorite thing: Newgrange is a must see. It is outside Dublin city but is the oldest site in Ireland. pre dates the pyramids by about 1000 years!! It has been restored to a certain extent, but does have a false look about the entrance. Dont even bother to attempt to go there at the spring solstace as it is booked out for quiote a few years.