Due to our enjoyment of original pub music and it’s atmosphere we saved our pub crawl for Dublin. We had researched the pubs we wanted to visit and hoped we would have enough time to see them all. The range was from the oldest pub in Ireland to the best Irish music etc. What a day we had planned.
Dublin is a walkable, medium sized bustling city. It is the Capital of Ireland with more than a third of the Republic of Ireland’s 4.5 million people living there. From the huge Parliamentary building, now the Bank of Ireland, to Trinity College founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, viewing the Book of Kells in their College Library or visiting the galleries or churches is all time consuming and special. 1000 Places to See tells you to visit The Shelbourne Hotel and the fine Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud for a delicious meal. This book also suggests the Book of Kells and the Pubs. So many things to see and so little time!
After the ship docked we were far enough away from the city that we were shuttled there. After parking we headed to The Shelbourne to get a peak at this luxurious hotel. With a good, easily available walking map we headed out. Coincidentally we passed the Patrick Guilbaud Restaurant and perused the menu. Turning the corner we arrived at The Shelbourne. Walking inside we were pleased we stopped. Home grown flower blossoms a foot tall as well as beautiful marble and stained glass greeted us. The 1824 historic grandeur seeped from every tile and flower. Some cruisers decided to enjoy lunch here claiming it was delicious.
Across the street from The Shelbourne is St. Stephen’s Green. A large historical, botanical park with fountains we couldn’t resist. Once again we were not disappointed! Sauntering through the park we found plenty of maps to show us where we were, informative signage also shared with us the park’s historical involvement in the 1916 uprising. Shots were fired from the Shelbourne on Volunteers of the Irish Army by the Brits in this Green. Being right there with this informational signage inspired me to learn more about this significant rebellion. (Please see history of Ireland).
Also in St. Stephen’s Green are tributes to many important Irish literary and political figures. W.B. Yeats has a Memorial. A 1923 Nobel Prize winner for Literature who’s considered the leading Western Poet of the 20th Century is of great pride in Ireland. James Joyce is also memorialized in the park. Joyce is known for his modernistic novel Ulysses and a book of short stories called The Dubliner (1914). Other Irish authors I have to mention are Oscar Wilde and Jonathan Swift. Oscar Wilde became one of London’s most popular playwrights in the early 1890’s, wrote The Importance of Being Earnest and is remembered for being imprisoned due to his homosexuality. Jonathon Swift’s book Gulliver’s Travels is a much cherished book of many readers. Other memorial statues stand in this Green for political heroes. Oliver Cromwell who was the Lord Protectorate in the 1650’s and Daniel O’Connell who is known as “The Liberator” campaigned for Catholic emancipation in the 1800’s. The park was beautiful, the stroll fascinating and being able to learn more about Irish history and key history makers was a win win.
Leaving this lovely Green we walked down Grafton Street which is the pedestrian walk, full of shops, pubs, coffee shops and entertainment. Thoroughly enjoying this promenade we realized our day was getting delayed but loved each discovery. After book shopping, the pedestrian walk ended exactly where we wanted to be-Trinity College and the Irish Whiskey Museum. Perfect.
Touring Trinity College we realized the line for the Book of Kells was long. Debating whether to wait an hour or so or move on we decided to move on. The Book of Kells will have to wait and more research is needed to be done to find a better time frame for arrival to minimize the delays. Off to our pub crawl.
Fortunately we walked past some magnificent buildings on our way to Temple St. Viewing the expansive Bank of Ireland Cultural and Heritage Centre was impressive. This building built in 1729 had a revolutionary design. With Ionic Columns, a semi circle design and encompassing 1.5 acres, extraordinary is an understatement. Sadly we had no time to go inside.
Turning onto Fleet Street our scenery went from iconic to quaint. Numerous flower baskets greeted us, cobble stones were to be walked upon and Irish music could be heard wafting through door ways. Oh where to begin? The Temple Bar bragged about it’s Irish music so that was our first stop. A flautist was ripping his way through an Irish Jig so a table, pint and a Reuben sandwich were ordered. Appreciating our surroundings, our friendly waitress, the lively music made for a great first stop.
After this success we headed west to view Christ Church on our way to the oldest pub in Ireland-the Brazen Head founded in 1198. Pausing at the historic cathedral was worthwhile. One of two medieval cathedrals Christ Church was built in 1028 by King Sitric Silkenbeard. He was a Hiberno-Norse King. It is quite large and seems to have many wings added to it. Due to a church service we were unable to go inside.
Finding the Brazen Head we were ready for our second round of Guinness (Ireland’s famous black stuff) and Cider. The Brazen Head is renowned for hosting wordsmiths like James Joyce and Jonathan Swift. The indoor/outdoor bar was crowded, finding a seat was difficult but after the friendly barman helped we were situated there. The clientele was mostly American tourists and there was no music yet so we finished our ales and headed out. Glad we saw it but desired a more “Irish” experience.
Getting late in the day we headed back to the shuttle through the same routes we hiked earlier. We had our eye on O’Donoghue’s Bar which started playing Irish music at 11 and was on the way back to the ship. It is described as a musical institution where the Dubliners and other famous Irish musicians got their start. Another indoor/outdoor venue we settled in and enjoyed listening to a beautiful male tenor perform with his band. Only having 45 minutes we finished quickly, felt we’d accomplished as much as we could in a day and sadly boarded the shuttle.
Dublin is a great city. I would suggest making sure you have 3-4 days to enjoy the atmosphere, appreciate the buildings and the cathedrals. There is still so much we haven’t seen. Some examples of venues-Jameson Distillery (referred to in Ireland as the water of life), Irish Whiskey Museum, The Guinness Enterprise and the Guinness Storehouse to name only the beverage side! Dublin Castle is a major public government office building complex and conference center. St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland and with it’s 43 meter spiral is the tallest church in Ireland. James Joyce is buried there as well. Finally you have the National Gallery with exquisite European and Irish Art. If you like the water some visitors tour Dublin via the river to see it’s Royal and Grand Canals. Your choices are numerous. Majority of these sights are in a central area, they just take time to see. Hopefully you’ll have enough time to enjoy the friendliness of the Irish along with the music, literature, art, food, medieval buildings and cathedrals. I will be back. Erin go bragh!