- Where the Locals Go
Originally from a small town in northwestern Ireland, Erna O’Connor first came to Dublin to attend Trinity College in the 1980s. She now works at the preeminent institution, as a lecturer at its School of Social Work and Social Policy. Erna finds that Dublin’s friendly people, cultural vibrancy, and proximity to the mountains and the sea make it a great place to call home. Here are a few of Erna’s favorite things about Ireland’s capital city.
Dublin is My City
When someone comes to visit me, the first place I take them is for a walk along the Grand Canal, close to where I live. It’s one of two canals encircling Dublin city center. A detour to Cake Café in the Daintree Building, for cake and coffee or a glass of Prosecco in the courtyard, is a must.
Early summer is the best time to visit my city because statistically the weather is at its best and life moves out of doors.
You can see my city best from Killakee Road in the Dublin Mountains.
Locals know to skip the rain and check out the free museums and galleries or the city’s shops, cafes, and bars instead.
The Jam Art Factory and Crown Alley in the Temple Bar neighborhood are the places to buy authentic, local souvenirs.
In the past, notable people like playwright Samuel Beckett, poet Seamus Heaney, and U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power have called my city home.
My city’s best museum is the National Museum on Kildare Street because of its collection of prehistoric gold and other ancient artifacts from the Mesolithic through to the end of the medieval period, including the Ardagh Chalice, the “Tara” brooch, the Derrynaflan Hoard and the “Viking Dublin assemblage.” These treasures have inspired many of the Celtic design motifs that today serve as a visual shorthand for “Irishness.”
If there’s one thing you should know about getting around my city, it’s that while it’s small enough to walk, there’s also a Dublin bike scheme, the bus network, and the Luas tram which runs from the east to the south west of the city. The DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) rail line, running north and south along the coast, is worth a trip if only for the views of Dublin Bay.
The best place to spend time outdoors in my city is sitting at an outdoor café in the pedestrianized Castle Market in the city center. Alternatively, go for a walk on Dun Laoghaire pier and continue along the coast to the James Joyce Tower and Museum in Sandycove, which served as backdrop for the opening scene of Ulysses, Joyce’s modernist classic.
My city really knows how to celebrate Christmas because Dubliners new and old meet on Grafton Street on Christmas Eve and musicians such as Bono, Lisa Hannigan, Mundy, and Damien Rice have been known to come along and busk.
You can tell if someone is from my city if they always have a story to tell.
For a fancy night out, I go for drinks at the Merrion or Shelbourne hotels, followed by dinner at Pichet or La Maison.
Just outside my city, you can visit the ancient passage tomb at Newgrange in County Meath. Dated to around 3,200 B.C.E., this UNESCO World Heritage site is older than the Great Pyramid of Giza.
My city is known for being home to U2, but it’s really home to all kinds of great music, performed live in venues throughout the city.
The best outdoor market in my city is Designer Mart on Cow’s Lane (open Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.), Temple Bar for handmade craft and design, and Temple Bar Food Market in Meeting House Square (Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.).
The Fumbally is my favorite place to grab breakfast, and the Trocedero is the spot for late-night eats.
To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read Totally Dublin or The Dublin Event Guide (for free events).
My city’s biggest sports event is the All-Ireland Football and Hurling Finals. Watch them at Croke Park.
When I’m feeling cash-strapped, I go for a walk along the river Liffey to the recently redeveloped Docklands, crossing the Samuel Beckett bridge to Grand Canal Square to stop for a coffee. The walk takes you past the work of architects Kevin Roche, Santiago Calatrava and Daniel Libeskind and close to some of Dublin’s best known public art such as ‘Famine’ by Rowan Gillespie, Tony O’Malley’s ‘Universal Links on Human Rights’ and Eamonn O’Doherty’s memorial to socialist and republican James Connolly.
To escape the crowds, I go to the Phoenix Park to see the herd of wild deer. (Bike hire is available at the entrance to the park.) Afterwards, head to the nearby Ryan’s of Parkgate Street, one of the finest examples of a typical Dublin pub, for a pint.
If my city were a celebrity it’d be Colin Farrell because it’s energetic, big-hearted, and has a wild side. Dublin also happens to be Farrell’s hometown!
The dish that represents my city best is Dublin Bay prawns and Guinness is my city’s signature drink.
The collection of buildings comprising Trinity College are my favorite buildings in town because walking through the front gate of Regent House reveals a hidden world of architecture from the 18th, 19th, 20th, and 21st centuries, along with cobblestone squares, gardens, and sports grounds–all right in the city center.
The most random thing about my city is its taxi drivers, who are legendary for their ability to engage in spirited (and opinionated) conversation on all manner of things!
Whelan’s is the best place to see live music, but if you’re in the mood to dance, check out The Twisted Pepper.
- Nat Geo Expeditions
Always meeting someone who knows someone you know could only happen in my city.
In the spring you should go to the Dublin Film Festival.
In the summer you should go to live music at the Iveagh Gardens.
In the fall you should watch rugby at the Aviva Stadium.
In the winter you should go to a play at the Abbey or Gate theaters.
If you have kids (or are a kid at heart), you won’t want to miss the Viking Splash tour of the popular sights of Dublin City–by land and by water! Feeding the ducks in Stephen’s Green is good fun, too.
The best book about my city is Ulysses because it chronicles encounters on a day’s walk through Dublin in 1904 and is considered to be one of the most important works of Modernist literature.
When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is “Falling Slowly,” the Oscar-winning duet performed by Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová in the movie Once.
In 140 characters or less, the world should heart my city because, to borrow from another great book about Dublin, The Commitments, “it’s got soul!”