Dublin, Rich in His­tory and Beer

Tips for vis­it­ing Ire­land’s cap­i­tal.

Vocable (All English) - - Édito | Sommaire - LUCAS PETER­SON

Dublin is with­out doubt the ideal des­ti­na­tion for a short au­tum­nal city break. The Ir­ish cap­i­tal has nu­mer­ous trea­sures and his­tor­i­cal mon­u­ments, for ex­am­ple, its fa­mous Book of Kells is one of the most beau­ti­fully dec­o­rated manuscripts from the Mid­dle Ages. It is also a city that loves to party, as the nu­mer­ous pubs that grace its streets can at­test. Amer­i­can jour­nal­ist, Lucas Peter­son, of­fers his im­pres­sions from a short visit to the city.

My in­struc­tor, a woman named Áine, urged me on: “Do it for your coun­try!” A group of us that had booked a tra­di­tional Ir­ish games ex­pe­ri­ence through Ex­pe­ri­ence Gaelic Games (35 eu­ros, about $42) stood out on a green field one hot af­ter­noon in north­ern Dublin. Áine, hav­ing taught us the ways of hurl­ing, a lacrosse-like game pos­si­bly as old as Ire­land it­self, was now in­struct­ing us in the ways of Gaelic foot­ball, which is played with a soc­cer ball-like orb.

2. The beau­ti­ful cap­i­tal city of Ire­land has the­ater, lit­er­a­ture and mu­sic em­a­nat­ing from its pores: the per­fect place for cul­ture and his­tory mavens — not to men­tion those who would like to ex­pe­ri­ence bruis­ing, idio­syn­cratic na­tional sports. But the city is also a vic­tim of its own suc­cess. Not de­signed to cater to hordes of tourists, it can present is­sues for vis­i­tors, par­tic­u­larly in cost. (Even lo­cals have trou­ble keep­ing up with rents.)


3. I stepped out from the Tara Street sta­tion near Ge­orge’s Quay in cen­tral Dublin, which runs along­side the River Lif­fey. Af­ter grab­bing a Bu­rundi fil­ter brew at Shoe Lane Cof­fee (2.70 eu­ros), I set out to do a quick sur­vey of the city on foot, head­ing up to­ward the land­mark Spire (handy to spot if you get turned around) be­fore turn­ing down the pedes­trian and shop­ping thor­ough­fare of Henry Street.

4. A stop at a cell provider store was nec­es­sary, so I went into the Three store where Henry Street be­came Mary Street (streets change names fre­quently in Dublin, and it is best to just get used to it). Safe in know­ing

that I could burn through data with­out con­se­quence, I turned my at­ten­tion back to en­joy­ing Dublin — the street mu­si­cians in par­tic­u­lar.


5. While the 2007 movie Once put in­ter­na­tional at­ten­tion on the art form, mu­si­cians singing for their sup­per is a tra­di­tion. To­day, there is con­sid­er­able di­ver­sity in what you will hear as you walk the city. A young Bo­li­vian man, Wil­liams Erick Or­tiz, crooned Span­ish-lan­guage songs; Cold­play cov­ers were the pre­ferred choice of an­other per­former, Minkyu Jo. Over to­ward the north end of Grafton Street (the most pop­u­lar area to find mu­si­cians), I caught a ta­lented teenager who goes by Buzz Apollo play­ing some angsty rock num­bers.

6. For those who pre­fer their mu­sic in an in­door set­ting, The Cob­ble­stone de­scribes it­self as a “drink­ing pub with a mu­sic prob­lem.” That is not to say it is but­toned up or stuffy — when I walked in, two fid­dlers were sit­ting in the cor­ner to my left, play­ing off one an­other while oth­ers chat­ted and drank am­ber-col­ored pints. There was a spe­cial per­for­mance for Brit­tany Day, which cel­e­brates Bre­tons in Ire­land, the evening I was there (10 eu­ros), and I caught the group Bal Feirste play­ing Bre­ton and Ir­ish tunes.

7. If the­ater is more your thing, the birth­place of Shaw and Beck­ett can cer­tainly oblige. I caught a new play, “My Son My Son” by Veron­ica Dyas at the Project Arts Cen­tre in

Tem­ple Bar, smack in the cen­ter of the city (14 eu­ros). While some of the ref­er­ences flew over my head, the po­lit­i­cally charged play, which re­volves around the life of a sin­gle mother in the Lib­er­ties, a his­tor­i­cally work­ing-class neigh­bor­hood of Dublin, was ex­cel­lently acted.


8. Those with an in­ter­est in his­tory will find plenty to do in Dublin. I en­joyed a tour booked through His­tor­i­cal Walk­ing Tours of Dublin (12 eu­ros) and was im­pressed by my knowl­edge­able guide, Sylvie. The tour, which leaned on the 18th cen­tury as a cru­cial pe­riod in Ir­ish his­tory, be­gan at Trin­ity Col­lege be­fore slowly mov­ing to the old House of Lords and Tem­ple Bar ar­eas. We learned, among other things, why the Ir­ish lan­guage, while it may never be widely used again, will never go ex­tinct thanks to ex­ten­sive civic and gov­ern­ment ef­forts to pro­tect it.

9. A visit to Dublin must in­clude walk­ing the grounds of Trin­ity Col­lege, es­tab­lished by Queen El­iz­a­beth in 1592 and the coun­try’s old­est ex­ist­ing univer­sity. The Old Li­brary on cam­pus houses vol­umes of valu­able and ven­er­a­ble manuscripts, the most fa­mous of which are the lav­ishly il­lu­mi­nated New Tes­ta­ment Gospels known as the Book of Kells (ex­hibit ad­mis­sion, 14 eu­ros).

10. But it is the Long Room that has to be one of the most im­pres­sive sites in the coun­try. The epic bar­rel-vaulted li­brary, mea­sur­ing over 200 feet long and nearly 50 feet high, is packed with 200,000 books, slot­ted neatly into row af­ter row of wooden shelves stretch­ing to the ceil­ing. It is mag­i­cal and a must-see for any li­brary buff; you can al­most feel the spirit of Os­car Wilde walk­ing be­side you.


11. But no visit to Dublin would be com­plete with­out a hearty meal and a creamy pint of one of Ire­land’s fine beers. For the for­mer, I rec­om­mend Pickle, which spe­cial­izes in North­ern In­dian cui­sine and has an ex­cel­lent 22-euro early bird din­ner spe­cial. For a deeper dive into the lat­ter, the mas­sive Guin­ness Store­house is an ob­vi­ous choice, a theme-park­like cash grab that is fun if you re­lax and go with the rau­cous at­mos­phere. I paid 17.50 eu­ros on­line for my ticket, and found it slightly over­priced for my taste. You do get a free pint with ad­mis­sion, how­ever, which I en­joyed with some ex­cel­lent views of the city from the Grav­ity Bar on the sev­enth floor.

12. But why pay that much? The beer was just as cold at Dice Bar, a lively cor­ner dive with worn leather booths and a homey at­mos­phere. I got a thick pint of D’Arcy’s Dublin Stout for 4.80 eu­ros. A cou­ple of new friends I made, Josh and Keith, took me to Gro­gan’s Cas­tle Lounge, where we found a free­wheel­ing gather­ing; we caroused and drank in the street with about 100 other peo­ple. Af­ter a crawl that also in­cluded The Bar With No Name, we col­lapsed at a ta­ble at a busy late-night Ira­nian restau­rant. The food was good, en­hanced by the ex­cite­ment of the af­ter-mid­night crowd. And I had a par­al­lel feel­ing af­ter a long day ex­plor­ing this ex­cit­ing cap­i­tal city.

No visit to Dublin would be com­plete with­out a hearty meal and a creamy pint of one of Ire­land’s fine beers.

(Rob Durston Pho­tog­ra­pher/Fáilte Ire­land)

The Gate Theatre.

(Is­tock) (Is­tock) (Rob Durston Pho­tog­ra­pher/Fáilte Ire­land) (Is­tock) (Is­tock)

The Four Courts. The Jeanie John­ston Tall Ship. The Long Room at Trin­ity Col­lege. The Tem­ple Bar area. Trin­ity Col­lege.


Tem­ple bar, Dublin.

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