Dublin is a fascinating European capital with a wealth of things to see and do. A day spent sightseeing will turn up more attractions than we could ever put down on one list, but here are some of our favourites.
The Custom House Quay, Dublin 1, Dublin
The Custom House, designed by the renowned James Gandon, was completed in 1791 and is one of Dublin’s finest heritage buildings. It has played a unique role in Dublin’s social, economic and political history over the past 200 years.
The Visitor Centre is located in and around the Dome or Clocktower area, which contains the most important interior features to have survived the destruction of the building by fire in 1921, during the War of Independence.
The Centre includes a Gandon Museum with information and displays on his life and work in Ireland; the history of the Custom House itself, including the 1921 fire and subsequent restoration and on the many Government offices and important characters who have office in the building in the 200 years.
18 Parnell Square, Dublin 1, Dublin
The Irish literary tradition is one of the most illustrious in the world, famous for four Nobel prize-winners and for many other writers of international renown. In 1991 the Dublin Writers Museum was opened to house a history and celebration of literary Dublin.
Trinity College, Dublin 2, Dublin
The Book of Kells contains a Latin text of the four gospels richly decorated by Irish monks around the year 800 AD. The greatest Irish work of art to survive from the Middle Ages, it has been in the library of Trinity College Dublin since the 1660s.
The ’Picturing the Word’ exhibit will place it in its historical and cultural context and compares its images and techniques to those in contemporary metalwork, bone, slate, stone and enamels. Much of the exhibition is an analysis of its animal and human ornament.
Such images are persistent and repetitive, but their meaning is beyond most observers today. A section of the exhibition is concerned with the physical processes involved in the creation of the Book of Kells: the manufacture of the calfskin it was written on, and the writing materials and pigments used. The exhibition culminates with the display of the Book of Kells itself in a specially designed Treasury.
Bow Street, Smithfield, Dublin 7, Dublin
The Old Jameson Distillery in Smithfield Village is in the heart of Old Dublin. Irish Whiskey can trace its history back to the 6th century.
It was established in 1780 by John Jameson and it’s now one of Dublin’s top attractions. It’s almost like a tour of a working distillery as you can follow the fascinating craft of whiskey making through the different stages from grain intake to malting, mashing, fermentation, distillation, maturation and bottling.
The tour culminates in the Jameson Bar for a traditional Irish Whiskey tasting session. Other facilities include the Distillery Gift Shop on the ground floor and the 3rd Still Restaurant which overlooks the lobby.
The Chapter House, Christ Church Place, Dublin 8, Dublin
Dating back to 1038, Christchurch Cathedral is located in the old medieval quarter of Dublin. It is the Church of Ireland Cathedral for the Diocese of Dublin and Glendalough and is situated at the end of Dame Street, overlooking the River Liffey.
The cathedral was founded by Dunan, the first bishop of Dublin, who erected a simple wooden church. After the coming of the Norman’s to Ireland in 1169, the church was rebuilt in stone by Richard de Clare, Earl of Pembroke (known as ‘Strongbow’) for Laurence O’Toole, archbishop of Dublin.
Over the years Christ Church Cathedral has undergone numerous renovations and restorations making it the grand structure it is today.
The Clock Tower Building, Dublin Castle, Dame Street, Dublin 2, Dublin
Situated in the heart of the city centre, the Chester Beatty Library is an art museum and library which houses the great collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts assembled by Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). The Library’s exhibitions open a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world. Its rich collection from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe offers visitors a visual feast. Chester Beatty Library was named Irish Museum of the Year in 2000 and was awarded the title European Museum of the Year in 2002, a coveted international accolade in the museum world.
Egyptian papyrus texts, beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur’an, the Bible, European medieval and renaissance manuscripts are among the highlights of the collection. Turkish and Persian miniatures and striking Buddhist paintings are also on display, as are Chinese dragon robes and Japanese woodblock prints. In its diversity, the collection captures much of the richness of human creative expression from about 2700 BC to the present day.
St. Joseph’s Avenue, Dublin 3, Dublin
Boasting a capacity of 82,300, Croke Park Stadium is the home of Gaelic games and the headquarters of the GAA – the Gaelic Athletic Association. This impressive stadium is located to the north of Dublin city centre near the suburb of Drumcondra. It’s one of the largest stadiums in Europe and is the place to be in Ireland on All-Ireland Final Day.
It can be found just off Jones Road in Dublin 3 and is within easy walking distance of O’Connell Street. It covers about 700,000 square feet and has three stands: the Cusack Stand, the Hogan Stand and the Davin Stand in the Canal End. There’s also a standing area made up of Hill 16 and the Nally Terrace.
For a long time it was used exclusively for Gaelic games, however it has hosted a few concerts in the past, Muhammad Ali fought here in 1972 and it was used for the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games.
The year 2007 brought about the biggest change, when the closure of the Lansdowne Road stadium led to Croke Park opening its gates to both rugby and soccer, with all home games being played there.
Dublin 1, Dublin
The Spire in Dublin points skyward over the historic Irish capital like an enormous needle. It was built at a cost of 4 million euro and is the focal point of a project aimed at rejuvenating the O’Connell Street district, Dublin’s traditional shopping and cultural hub.
Officially titled The Spire, though another consideration was The Brian Boru Spire, the monument has gained plenty of more colourful names by locals. Some of the cleaner examples include ‘The Spike’, ‘The Spire in the Mire’, ‘The Stiletto in the Ghetto’, ‘The Eyeful Tower’, ‘The Nail in the Pale’, and ‘The Pin in the Bin’. The name in Irish is ‘An Tur Solais’ which translates as The Spire of Light in English.
The monument was designed by Ian Ritchie Architects of London, which won a competition to replace Nelson’s Pillar, which was a 19th century memorial to the British Admiral, but was destroyed in 1966 by the IRA.
There were 130 tonnes of hot roll stainless steel to create the Spire. The Spire tapers from a 3-metre diameter at the base just 15 centimetres in diameter at the tip that houses a powerful light.
Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, Dublin 8, Dublin
The Irish Museum of Modern Art is one of the most exciting developments in the Irish arts world. The museum presents, through its permanent collection and temporary programmes, international and Irish art of the 20th century with associated educational and community.
Performance, theatre and music are included in its work, with particular emphasis on the overlap between the visual and performing arts.
The Royal Hospital Kilmainham, the finest 17th-century building in Ireland, was built in 1684 as a home for retired soldiers and continued in that use for almost 250 years. The style is based on Les Invalides in Paris with a formal facade and large elegant courtyard. The RHK was restored by the Government in 1968 and needed only minimum alterations to accommodate the work of the museum.
The building has an excellent coffee shop and comprehensive banqueting, conference and catering facilities.
Saint Stephens Green, Dublin 2, Dublin
Probably Ireland’s best known Victorian public park and one of the oldest public parks in Ireland, the 9-hectare Saint Stephen’s Green is a sanctuary from the hustle and bustle of the city’s streets. With tree lined walks, shrubberies, colourful flower beds, herbaceous borders, rockeries, an ornamental lake, and a garden for the visually impaired, it is a soothing oasis.
The bandstand is a well-known feature in this park. Lunchtime concerts are performed during the summer months.