In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty, I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone. As she wheeled her wheelbarrow through the streets broad and narrow, crying cockles and mussels, alive alive o…(I couldn’t resist 😜)
Dublin is one of my favourite cities in the world. There is so much to see and do, with tours, museums, art galleries, festivals, music gigs, theatres. I know you can get all that in any city in the world but Dublin is unique thanks to its people, history and buildings. I’ve found that people either love it or hate it, but I truly love this city. I lived in Dublin on two separate occasions for different courses and have many fond memories of my time there. I first moved to Dublin in 2011 to take a place at Bull Alley Theatre Training Company. I liked the nightlife, the theatres, the music gigs, the shops, the cafes, the regular bus service 😁 But it wasn’t until my second stint living in Dublin in 2013 that I really fell in love with the city. I began a tour guiding course with Dublinia Heritage Centre and the history of Dublin was presented to me. Of course most of us here in Ireland have a simple knowledge of the city’s Georgian and rebel history, that is if you haven’t specialised in studying history in college. But it was its viking and medieval history that fascinated me. I could go on and on, but let me tell you about MY 5 favourite places in Dublin:
This is the coolest heritage centre that I’ve been to in Dublin and I would think that anyway if I hadn’t trained there as a tour guide. Before I move on and tell you more, if you’re interested in history and Irish heritage and are thinking of becoming a tour guide, I cannot recommend the heritage course highly enough. The lecturers have so much passion for Irish heritage and Dublin’s history. They know what they’re talking about, they run the course with military precision with two intakes of students a year and they can’t do enough for the students that come through Dublinia’s doors. No I haven’t been paid to say that ☺
Dublinia is located on St. Michael’s Hill across from Christ Church Cathedral in the heart of Medieval Dublin. The building was originally St. Michael’s Church dating back to the 12th Century. During the restoration of Christ Church Cathedral in the late 1800s, the architect George Edmund Street designed the Synod Hall around the tower of the original church. That is the building you see today. Dublinia is spread out over three floors, transporting you back to Viking and Medieval Dublin. There is an entrace fee and you have the choice of doing a guided or self-guided tour.
Starting off with the vikings, meet Olaf the White and learn how vikings got their names. Experience how they sailed across to Ireland and set up their camps and buried their dead. Fancy being sold as a slave? You might go for 8 oz of silver. Walk down a viking street and sit in a viking house. Learn about the influence they’ve had on Dublin and Ireland and their demise or the lack of influence rather with coming of the Anglo-Normans.
Coming up the stairs on to the medieval floor you’re greeted by Strongbow. On this floor you learn how the Anglo-Normans came to Ireland. Did they invade or were they invited? You also learn what life was like in Medieval Dublin. Experience a medieval fayre and maybe get your teeth pulled by the barber surgeon. If you miss behave you might be thrown in the stocks in crime and punishment. Be careful you don’t catch the plaque in death and disease but if you do, you’ll learn how to cure it. Meet Peter Higgley, a Dublin merchant and see what his house was like. Walk through a medieval street and hear the hustle and bustle and take a ride on a cargo ship but not before you pay the water bailiff a fee. Meet Silken Thomas and learn how Henry VIII became King of Ireland.
Make your way up to the third floor where you’ll learn why archaeology is so important in understanding our past and what an archaeologist does. Meet Gunner, a viking man and Maggie, a medieval woman. From them you’ll learn that their bones tell a story of how they lived and died. Dublinia’s exhibitions are interactive, informative and most importantly fun. It’s definitely a must see if you’re in Dublin.
Irish Whiskey Museum
Forget the Guinness Storehouse, whiskey is where it’s at. Situated across the road from the main entrance of Trinity College, this museum is just over a year old and claims to be the first Irish whiskey museum in the world. I received a tour of this fine establishment back in March of last year. A guided tour will bring you through the history of whiskey distilling, from its decline in Ireland to its recent rise again. On the tour you’ll also learn about the different types of whiskey: pot still, single malt, single grain etc. The piece de resistance…WHISKEY TASTING!!! You’ll sample three of the finest whiskeys that Ireland has to offer.
Tours go every 30 minutes with a Standard or VIP Tour and you’ll be escorted by the museum’s highly trained and knowledgeable guides. If you’re a whiskey connoisseur I highly recommend you pay the little extra and take the VIP Tour. Along with the three whiskeys, you’ll taste an aged whiskey, which has been matured for a minimum of 5 years and receive an Irish Whiskey Museum glass as a souvenir. If you can barely stand after the whiskey tasting, rest yourself in the museum’s cafe and savour the view of Trinity College over a coffee.
The Little Museum Of Dublin
The Little Museum of Dublin is situated at 15 St. Stephen’s Green in an exquisite 18th Century Georgian house owned by Dublin City Council. I had the pleasure of completing two months work experience in this museum for my tour guiding course. The museum in a nutshell tells the story of 20th Century Dublin and boasts over 5,000 artefacts in the collection, which have been kindly donated by the public.
Since its launch in 2011, Trevor White (Director) and Simon O’ Connor (Curator) have worked tirelessly to make the museum what it is today. With permanent and temporary exhibitions, evening recitals and guided tours it’s no wonder The Little Museum of Dublin is the No. 1 museum in Ireland and was nominated for The Museum of the Year Awards.
There is a small fee on entering the museum and you have the option going around the museum yourself or taking a guided tour. Guided tours go on the hour, every hour and again are led by the museum’s knowledgeable guides. When taking the tour, Dublin’s history and characters are brought to life and you’ll hear some lovely anecdotes and stories that the history books don’t tell you. The tour is divided into two parts. The first part of the tour consists of Dublin in the 20th Century with characters such as Queen Victoria, Margaret Skinninder (her story is fascinating!), Michael Collins and Eamonn deValera making an appearance. The second part of the tour is my favourite as you’re brought into the second room. This room is chockablock with artefacts and prints, each with their own stories that you wouldn’t read about in the history books.
This is a gem of a museum and you’ll be filled with a sense of nostalgia. It’s a must see for young and old.
St. Stephen’s Green Park
There are many beautiful parks and green areas in and around Dublin but my favourite has to be St. Stephen’s Green. The name originates from St. Stephen’s Church that was in the area back in the 13th Century. The land wasn’t used until the 1600s and in the 18th Century it became very fashionable to be seen in The Green when one was promenading. By the 19th Century it had fallen into a terrible condition and became a private park. But thanks to the generosity of Lord Ardilaun (Arthur Guinness) he bought the park, landscaped it, entrusted it to the Commissioners of Public Works (now the OPW) and gave it back to the people of Dublin. While the history of the park is fascinating to me and there are many monuments around the park harking back to that history, what I love most about the park is the flora and fauna. The park is home to over 750 trees and a large number of different types of birds. It’s a just a lovely place to sit down and retreat from the hustle and bustle of the city.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
I love St. Patrick’s Cathedral, not only is it one of my favourite places in Dublin but it’s one of my favourite religious buildings (I have a thing for church architecture) The Cathedral is situated on Patrick’s Street and it is believed that St. Patrick converted people to Christianity at a well on the site of the cathedral. St. Patrick’s is the National Cathedral for the Church of Ireland faith. While its primary function is for worship, it has historical and architectural significance.
There is a charge into the cathedral but all monies go towards the maintenance and up keep of the building. With parts of the building dating back to the 12th/13th Century it can’t be easy looking after. You have the choice of a guided or a self-guided tour. If you want to do a self-guided tour be sure to visit their website where you’ll be able to download a copy of the guide to the cathedral.
Always preferring guided tours I recommend you take the tour by one of the cathedral’s many volunteers. Tours go at different times so consult their website for tour times. The history of the cathedral is brought to life where you’ll hear about Robert Boyle (father of chemistry), Dean Jonathan Swift (author of Gulliver’s Travels) and where the phrase “to chance your arm” came from, among other characters and stories. If you like history and architecture, you’ve got it all at St. Patrick’s Cathedral.
There you have it! My 5 favourite places in Dublin. Have you been to Dublin before? What are your favourite places in Dublin?