Last month, Mark and I went to Dublin with my sister-in-law, Claire. I had so many things to post before Christmas that I haven’t had chance until now to tell you about it! I thought I’d start with the general highlights.
The one recommendation that everyone gave us when we were planning our trip – the Guinness Storehouse. This museum and all-round Guinness experience was top of our list and didn’t disappoint.
The whole building is on multiple floors and centres around a huge pint-glass-shaped atrium. You start and finish on the first floor where there’s a huge shop full of all the Guinness delights you could imagine from clothes to memorabilia to food! I highly recommend the Guinness fudge. The museum takes you through the history of Guinness as well as the processes used to make and distribute it. They also have a whole area dedicated to Guinness branding used over the years which was interesting, but I felt they could have done a bit more with it.
You can also do a tasting experience where you learn all about the different scents that you can detect in Guinness and how to recognise the different constituents like hops and barley. We got to try some from a teeny glass that was so cute it was a shame to have to give it back!
Don’t worry though – that’s not the only Guinness you get – your ticket comes with a token that you can use either in the bar with the view out over Dublin or to learn to pour the perfect pint. I would have loved to do the latter but the queue was long and we decided to go to the viewing bar. Needless to say the Guinness was delicious and the views were great too!
Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library has to top my list of museums in Dublin. Chester Beatty was an avid book collector and collected some of the most beautiful religious texts which you can see in his Library. The texts themselves are absolutely stunning, but I was particularly impressed with the way that the whole collection was curated over the two floors. A major plus is that the museum is free, they just ask for a donation.
Trinity College and the Book of Kells
Trinity College is a popular sight to visit in Dublin as it houses the Book of Kells, a stunning example of illuminated gospels (which means it has hand-drawn embellishments and illustrations) from the medieval period. The museum is fairly interesting and has a lot of information about various other ancient books from the same period. I did enjoy reading about how the books would have been produced back then which was fascinating. After looking around the museum exhibition, you head through to the room where you can see two volumes of the Book of Kells itself. You then end in the Long Room which is a beautiful wood-panelled library with a huge ceiling.
A short walk along from the Long Room building you can find a striking bronze spherical sculpture by Arnaldo Pomodoro called Sphere within Sphere well worth the negligible detour.
The National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology
There’s a huge amount to see in this the National Museum of Ireland’s Archaeology Museum from ancient gold to preserved bodies found in bogs! I must admit, the bog bodies didn’t do it for me, but the collection of gold is incredible. The Ardargh Chalice and Tara Brooch are the headline items in this museum’s collection, but the rest of the gold is amazing to look around and learn how techniques and skills evolved over time.
The Temple Bar
Dublin, it will come as no surprise to you, is cracking for a night out! Head to the Temple Bar area and you can’t go far wrong, but the Temple Bar pub on the corner of a Temple Bar and Temple Lane South is an experience not to miss. From the outside it looked stunning decorated top to bottom with Christmas lights as we were there in December. Inside was busy, but the atmosphere was lovely and there was a live band playing Irish folk music.
We also loved the Merchants Arch which is right on the river. The downstairs area was really busy and we thought about leaving, but we found our way up the spiral staircase lined with the most frames you’ve ever seen and into the bar/restaurant area which still had plenty of seats. The whole place is decorated with all sorts of artefacts and memorabilia including a plane hanging from the ceiling!
St Stephen’s Green and the Garden for the Blind
This is the main Central Park in Dublin and very calm and pretty to wander around on a nice day. I was particularly taken by the Garden for the Blind which had Braille plaques for all of the plants and the plants themselves were good for smells or textures. I thought it was a great way to celebrate the other ways you can enjoy plants and different senses you can use besides your vision. My favourite plant was the “bunnies’ ears” – so soft!
The Ha’penny Bridge, actually called the Liffey Bridge, has to get a mention. It is a cute footbridge over the river that’s pretty iconic Dublin and worth a look for a photo opportunity.
We also spent a day out at Howth, which was probably one of the best things we did and so I’m going to give that its own post – watch this space!