Dubliner Aoife O’Riordain knows the best places to get away from the crowds and find the cutting edge in Ireland’s trendy capital.
0700-0900. There are few better places to start the day than in the airy Georgian kitchen-like space of Hatch & Sons (15 St Stephen’s Green, 01 661 0075). Here you can indulge into an array of Irish produce for breakfast like baked eggs with sausage, bacon, tomato and fresh soda bread or organic Kilbeggan porridge with toasted seeds, milk and honey.
. Afterwards head upstairs to The Little Museum of Dublin
(15 St Stephen’s Green, 01 661 1000). Amid the elegant surroundings of the first floor of a Georgian townhouse overlooking St Stephen’s Green, this museum tells the story of Dublin down the ages through an idiosyncratic collection of artefacts and memorabilia, mainly donated by the city’s residents. Just around the corner, the National Museum of Ireland (Kildare Street, 01 677 7444), houses over two million artefacts from many periods of Ireland’s rich archaeological history, such as the Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch, and one of Europe’s most important collections of gold. The nearby National Gallery of Ireland (Merrion Square West, 01 661 5133), houses an impressive collection of both Irish and European art including works by Jack B Yeats and Caravaggio. There is also an extensive programme of temporary exhibitions in its contemporary wing.
1100-1300. Stroll along the banks of the Liffey River and then cross to the north side of the city via the spectacular Samuel Beckett Bridge. Inaugurated in 2010 and designed by Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, its audacious lines were inspired by an Irish harp. Pick up a bike at one of many dublinbikes stations dotted around the city, cross over to the south bank via the city’s second Calatrava-designed bridge with literary leanings, the James Joyce Bridge, and continue to the 11th-century Christchurch Cathedral, which sits in the heart of the medieval city.
1300-1500. Just down the hill and currently one of the city’s hippest eateries, The Fumbally (Fumbally Lane, 01 529 8732) is a soaring space with large windows, mismatched tables and chairs with a vaguely Mediterranean slant but all the while championing local ingredients. Lunch is a laid-back affair; choose from an array of salads on display at the counter, soups, or order one of its freshly made sandwiches – the porchetta with caper mayonnaise and apple sauce has a devoted following.
1500-1700. St Stephen’s Green is the largest of central Dublin’s five Georgian garden squares and one of the city’s best-loved parks. It contains a riot of flowers and carefully tended lawns, edged on all sides by imposing Georgian mansions. But tucked just behind it is another of Dublin’s slightly more overlooked green spaces, Iveagh Gardens (Clonmel Street, 01 475 7816), a verdant haven dotted with benches and criss-crossed by gravel paths, which makes it the ideal place to escape the hustle.
1700-1900. Grafton Street is Dublin’s premier shopping street. Brown Thomas (88-95 Grafton Street, 01 605 6666) is its swankiest department store, with the same owners as London’s Selfridges, and is crammed with designer labels for men, women and children. Avoca (11-13 Suffolk Street, 01 677 4215) sells an extensive range of its covetable blankets, rugs and throws, as well as homewares, clothing, toys and food. Powerscourt Centre (59 South William Street, 01 679 4144) is one of the city’s most impressive shopping malls – a sensitive conversion of a sprawling Georgian townhouse that used to serve as the city centre home of Lord Powerscourt. Inside you will find the well-edited design shop Article (22 Powerscourt Townhouse, 01 679 9268), which showcases quirky local and international design talents with homewares, stationery and everyday objects.
1900-2100. Dublin’s pubs need little introduction. They offer the perfect excuse, if any were needed, to indulge in a pint of Guinness or two. The city is littered with over 1,000 watering holes, with many in the atmospheric traditional-style vein. A one-time haunt of James Joyce, who could often be seen scribbling at the bar, Mulligans (8 Poolbeg Street, 01 677 5582) serves one of Dublin’s best pints of Guinness. Set on a corner near Grafton Street, such is Kehoe’s (9 South Anne Street, 01 677 8312) popularity crowds often spill out on the pedestrianised lane outside. Inside, it offers a slice of well-preserved Victoriana with a mahogany bar, stained glass, brass and tiny snugs to nurse a pint or two in. There are fine views of the city and the neighbouring Daniel Libeskind-designed Grand Canal Theatre from the Rooftop Terrace Bar of one of the city’s newest hotels, The Marker (Grand Canal Square, 01 687 5100).
After 2100. The area around South Great George’s Street has become one of the city’s go-to dining quarters. San Lorenzo’s (South Great George’s Street, 01 478 9383) is a self-styled modern Italian restaurant with a welcoming atmosphere and pared-down interior co-owned by one of Dublin’s noteworthy chefs, Temple Garner. Expect generous portions of the likes of pan-fried prawns with wine, chilli and garlic and roast local rump lamb with Sicilian aubergine caponata. With a pretty first-floor dining room overlooking the Liffey River, The Winding Stair (40 Lower Ormond Quay, 01 872 7320) houses a charming bookshop on the ground floor and a restaurant upstairs. The food is hearty and showcases Irish produce with dishes like steamed cockles and mussels and chargrilled 28-day dry-aged Irish Hereford rib-eye steak.
The Vintage Cocktail Club (15 Crown Alley, 01 675 3547) is a glamorous space with a speakeasy-style spread over three floors in the heart of Temple Bar – as the name suggests, the cocktails are the draw. Those in search of traditional music should look no further than the perennially popular O’Donoghue’s (15 Merrion Row, 01 660 7194), which has nightly sessions featuring an array of traditional musicians.
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Written by World Travel Guide.