Since Saint Patrick’s day takes place in March, we decided to go with an Irish theme and thought you would appreciate a little visit to Ireland. For those of you who have never been there before, here is a list of ten locations to visit while in Dublin.
1 Trinity College Dublin
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest and most famous college. The college boasts a long list of famous alumni such as Samuel Beckett, Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde. The college is most often visited because of the renowned Book of Kells, housed in the college’s library. This illustrated version of the four Gospels of the New Testament was created around 800 A.D. by Celtic monks. The manuscripts’ pages are illustrated with bright Celtic designs and depictions of Christ and his followers. And for you Star Wars fans out there, you will be interested to learn that the Long Room, in which the book is held was the inspiration for the Jedi archives room in “Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones”.
2 Guinness Store House
Ireland is renowned for its Guinness and although it is no longer produced in the Guinness Storehouse, you can learn all about the history of Guinness and the brewing process by visiting the place. The core of the building is shaped like a giant pint glass and you follow the brewing process by walking up the seven floors of the building. The top floor, housing the Gravity bar, offers visitors a complimentary pint of Guinness while enjoying the spectacular views of Dublin. Some people say it’s worth the price of the visit.
3 Kilmainham Gaol
Although this isn’t by any stretch of the mind, one of the happiest places in Dublin, it is a must-see if you are passionate about history. Kilmainham Gaol was famous for its brutal treatment of prisoners which ranked from petty thieves to famous politicians and Irish nationalists. Wandering around the prison, you get a real sense of what being imprisoned here must have been like. Tours of the prison are available, starting with an audio-visual presentation and there is also an extensive exhibition describing the prison’s penal and political history, from the 1780s to the 1920s. It is advised to arrive early to avoid disappointment as tickets are sold on first come first served basis.
4 Phoenix Park
This park is the largest urban enclosed park in Europe. Spanning three miles (and encompassing more than 1,700 acres), Phoenix Park features plenty of lush green lawns, shady wooded areas and cool, clean lakes. This park is full of things to do: it houses the Dublin Zoo, the third-oldest zoo in Europe, the Farmleigh House, a large Edwardian house with a working farm, and food market. The house is full of period furniture and decorations. The Visitor’s Center is also housed in a 17th century castle so it is well worth a visit. The park is also home to the residence for the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin, which is open for free tours on Saturdays. If you can’t have tea at Buckingham, why not try a pint of Guiness at Áras an Uachtaráin?
5 National Gallery of Ireland
For you art lovers, here is something worth seeing. Th entrance to the gallery is free and the collection includes around 2500 paintings and around 10 000 other works. There are numerous works by famous artists such as Caravaggio, Van Gogh and French Impressionists but also Ireland’s masters such as William Leech, Roderic O’Conor and Jack B. Yeats. In addition, the museum also hosts regular travelling exhibitions and concerts and lectures. What more could a culture vulture want out of one place?
6 St Patrick Cathedral
Dublin’s largest cathedral and the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, St Patrick cathedral was founded in the 12th century. Built on the site where St Patrick was said to baptize converts, the cathedral houses the tomb of Jonathan Swift, the author of “Gulliver’s Travels”, who was the dean of the Cathedral from 1713-45. The towering vaulted ceilings are a thing of beauty as are the many delicate details of the Gothic style on display there.
7 Leinster House
This is the home of the Irish parliament. Originally the ducal palace of the Dukes of Leinster, it has been housing a complex of buildings which is home to Oireachtas Eireann, the Irish parliament, members and staff. Visits of the impressive building are free and you can book a free tour.
8 Dublin Castle
This massive structure — which acted as the center of British rule in Ireland for about 700 years – is well worth a visit. You can visit the State Apartments, and the Chapel Royal as well as the 13th Century Record Tower. Not to be missed is the Cester Beatty Library which houses some of the finest collections of Eastern art. Alfred Chester Beatty, an American mining magnate, moved his collection of Easter art to Ireland in 1950. There is also a police museum within the castle walls. Best of all? Admission is free!
9 Croke Park
This is the headquarters of the main sporting body in Ireland, the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), who are in charge of hurling and Gaelic football. Since 1884, it has been used to host Gaelic games. It is now the third-largest sports stadium in Europe and the spiritual home of Irish cultural nationalism. And if you’re curious about hurling, check David’s earlier post about this strange sport.
10 O’Connell Street
This is Dublin’s main traffic artery and the widest urban street in Europe. There are many statues and monuments along the street and very large houses used as shops for the most part. The most famous building in O’Connell street is of course the General Post Office, a Georgian building which was the headquarters of the Rebels who started the Easter Rising in 1916. Shelled by artillery and ravaged by fire, it was rebuilt some years later when the Irish Free Government came into power. The façade is the only original feature remaining. A bronze statue of Cuchullain reminds the public of the fallen heroes.
There are plenty more places to visit but these 10 are must-see. So when are you going to Ireland, then?