Story and photos by Emily M. Grey
Perhaps after a bus tour of Blarney or Northern Ireland or a hiking trek of the Kerry Way, you land in Dublin with time to kill while awaiting a flight or train departure. What’s the quickest, cheapest, and most satisfying way to discover this spirited capital city? It’s as easy as hopping on and off a bus.
Numerous tour companies offer daily rides which circumnavigate the heart of the buzzing metropolis with over 20 stops to major historical and cultural attractions. An open upper deck affords sweeping views and the best photo opts. A 24-hour pass allows passengers to hop off at any posted locale. They can hop back on and wait no longer than 10 or 15 minutes at any designated bus stop. Or, one can continue riding while listening to the jolly narrative of the driver. This pass also entitles the purchaser to “fast track” entry and discounts participating museums, galleries, and popular entertainment venues. Adults ride for about €14, children under 14 years for €6, and students and seniors pay €12.50.
Among the major destinations is St. Stephen’s Green, Europe’s largest square. Bands play, ducks swim in the lake and people picnic or stroll past lovely flower gardens, shade trees, and bridges. This is considered Dublin’s most treasured downtown respite.
Founded in 1038 by King Sitric, Christ Church Cathedral was the original Cathedral of Norse Dublin. The imposing pointed dates from about 1230.
Dedicated to St. Patrick is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland (Anglican) Community. In 1192, St. Patrick’s Cathedral was built by John Camyn, the first Norman-Anglo bishop. Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels, is buried in the cathedral.
Constructed in 1204 by King John is Dublin Castle, which does not personify a castle with a moat, fortress, or other architectural features. Centuries ago bloodbaths of Irish chieftains occurred here. Nowadays, the structure welcomes the public for guided tours of the State Apartments, Undercraft, and Chapel Royal. The Chester Beatty Library exhibits a world renowned collection of early Christian, Islamic, and East Asian manuscripts, paintings, and early books.
Established in 1592 by Elizabeth I, Trinity College occupies the site of an Augustinian monastery. Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, and Thomas Beckett attended this distinguished institution. The college carefully safeguards the 9th century “Book of Kells,” one the nation’s most valued possessions.
The charming Dublin Writers Museum, a restored 18th century mansion, maintains books, letters, and other memorabilia of Ireland’s beloved writers. Featured here are the works of Beckett, Behan, Joyce, Shaw, Swift, Wilde, and Yeats.
In 1759, Arthur Guinness began brewing his famous Porter which now globally produces over 10 million glasses a day. Touring the Guinness Storehouse, no longer a brewery but interactive museum, thirsty patrons receive a complimentary pint with their entry fee.
In Smithfield village, board The Chimney’s two-level viewing platform for a grand panorama of the city, surrounding mountains, and bays. This Distillery Chimney was constructed in 1896.
Engulfed in the city’s major shopping district is O’Connell Street, named for Daniel O’Connell, “The Liberator.” Statues of other Irish heroes line Ireland’s widest and most notable street. Close-by is the fetching Liffey Bridge which spans over the Liffey River.
In this vicinity, musicians fiddle or strum foot-stomping tunes while vendors sell colorful flowers, produce, and other treats.
Once a major deer park, The Phoenix Park is considered the largest park in Europe. Wild herds still roam this 1,750-acre sanctuary, which also contains the Dublin Zoo, the Peoples Gardens, and Aras An Uachtarain, the residence of the President of Ireland.
After pounding the pavement, how does a cold glass of Guinness and a scrumptious meal of cod and chips sound? Dublin has a variety of lively pubs with delectable cuisine and evening musical acts. One of the locals’ favorite haunts is Foley’s Pub on lower Baggot Street. Here, the staff is as friendly and helpful as rural neighbors. Other choice places are the Old Schoolhouse along the canal and Erie’s Restaurant in Donnybrook.
The nearby Mespil Hotel offers free Internet service, a fine restaurant, and a restful night’s sleep in a posh room. The CityTour bus driver checks in periodically to pick up interested visitors.
If you prefer settling a bit out of the hubbub, then the Beacon Hotel in Sandyford offers swanky accommodations. A convenient and recommended restaurant is Lamb Doyles.
The economical Air Coach transports fliers to the airport just 25 minutes away.
For additional information:
www.leehotels.com (The Mespil)