24 Hours in Dublin!
Part two of our trips closer to home was our city destination…Dublin. I wanted to visit somewhere we had never been before, I wanted somewhere with history, culture, it’s own identity…(and Guinness) Dublin definitely has this by the truck load! Getting there has never been so easy either, with Ryanair we were able to get return flights for less than £40 per person from Birmingham.
We opted for The Croke Park Hotel which is literally across the road from the legendary home of the Gaelic Games, Croke Park, opening our curtains we looked out at this amazing sporting arena. The hotel was fantastic, slightly away from the centre but only by a 20-30 minute walk to the north, and when we were there, away from the hustle and bustle, it really was a lovely place to relax and recharge the batteries ready for the next day of exploring, and there were some lovely extra touches which really made the stay feel special. To find out more about our stay at The Croke Park Hotel click here.
We arrived around seven in the evening, checked in, and headed into the city centre. The Temple Bar area of Dublin was our target for the evening! We found our way towards the River Liffey and discovered how beautiful it is at night! The lights from the bridges and surrounding buildings reflecting on the water, it really was pretty. We took a stroll over the Ha’penny bridge, so called after the toll that was once charged (half a penny), and realised how hungry we were!
The first place we saw the other side of the river was The Merchants Arch Pub, the building was so impressive with it’s split level we just had to go in! When we got inside we had discovered a really lovely traditional Irish pub, there was a really talented artist singing and playing guitar, it had a warm friendly atmosphere, just what we needed! I went all out here…ordered Irish stew with a pint of Guinness…a BIG bucket list tick for me…having a pint of Guinness in Dublin! I’m not convinced of the theory about it tasting better there though…I’m going to have to keep sampling for a while yet till I can make my assessment fully! The stew was great, slow cooked lamb which just fell apart.
We went deeper into Temple Bar and had a nice time wandering the atmospheric cobbled streets, all the more picturesque with the lovely Christmas lights, everyone enjoying themselves I was definitely feeling festive! There is that time every year when all of a sudden you realise Christmas is coming and you begin to feel the magic…this was that moment for me.
The next day after a great breakfast at The Croke Park Hotel we decided to get a taxi into the city centre just to save us a little bit of time. We got talking to our driver and asked him to drop us off by the Ha’penny bridge as it had become a bit of a navigation point for us! He asked what our plans were and where we wanted to go and what we wanted to see and he suggested dropping us off on O’Connell Street so we could walk down Henry Street one of the main shopping streets, he told us it would be lovely, the Christmas lights had just gone up and we would enjoy the walk…he was right! He dropped us off next to the Spire of Dublin, a striking 120 metre high shiny steel needle sculpture built in 2003.
I’ve heard that many locals describe it as pointless but one thing is for certain it is a talking point. By far the tallest building in Dublin architecturally speaking it is pretty amazing and in my opinion it’s pretty spectacular, it seems to disappear into the sky.
On the corner of O’Connell Street and Henry Street is the GPO building, the General Post Office. Another impressive sight and one of historical significance as it was here during the Easter Uprising in 1916 that the Proclamation of the Irish Republic was read out. The building was also used as a headquarters by the leaders of the uprising.
We popped our heads inside, I wasn’t expecting the building to still be a working post office! I don’t know why it just came as a bit of a surprise but it is great that this monumental building is an everyday part of the city. There is a new permanent attraction installed here GPO – Witness History which re-lives the events of the Easter Uprising and is very interesting.
Henry Street was looking great with all of the decorations and it was nice to wander along and carry out a bit of window shopping. Irelands largest and oldest department store is located on Henry Street, opened in 1843, the Irish Macy’s!
We turned left on Capel Street and crossed the river over the Grattan Bridge and continued along Parliament Street to the City Hall, formerly the Royal Exchange. This is another really impressive building which, like the GPO, was seized by the rebels during the Easter uprising. Built in 1753 the City Hall is now home to the Dublin City Council, again, like at the GPO we were nosey and poked our heads in and found a very impressive stately interior.
Next to City Hall is Dublin Castle, quite a strange combination of architecture from different times stuck together, I guess reflecting that it is still used by the government and is not just purely a museum or historical landmark but a building which is still in everyday use. Up until 1922 it was the seat of the United Kingdom government’s administration in Ireland, there has been a castle standing on the site since the 1100’s!
We continued east and made a beeline for Trinity College, when we got there it was really amazing, the buildings are incredible and it was graduation day for some students, their family’s looking on, it was a lovely atmosphere, celebrations, whooping….hats being thrown into the air, there was a really happy atmosphere.
Here at Trinity College in the old library is the Book of Kells exhibition. The Book of Kells contains four biblical gospels in Latin and is believed to have been written around the year 800 probably by three different artists. It is the artwork, decoration, and detail which really makes the Book of Kells significant. Originally gilded in gold, the incredible illustrations are quite something. The Annals of Ulster when recording that the book was stolen in 1006 describes the Book of Kells as “The chief treasure of the western world”.
The old library itself is a wonderful place and the Long Room is massively impressive. It was first built between 1712 and 1732, the roof was raised in 1860 to allow for extra space as the library is entitled to claim a free copy of every book in Ireland and Britain!
The Long room is 65 metres long and contains 200,000 of the oldest books in the library. There is a line of marble busts of great philosophers, writers and men connected to Trinity College along one side and one of the oldest harps of its kind in Ireland. There is also one of the last copies of the Proclamation of the irish Republic on display in the room. This is a magical place, I found myself just gazing up and around, staring at the shelves of old old books, very special.
Once we had finished here we set off back west across the city for the part I had most been looking forward to on our trip…visiting the Guinness Storehouse! On the way we passed a bar and restaurant, The Bank on College Green, we looked in through the doors and saw this awesome interior…like The Ritz or somewhere! It was the kind of place where we hesitated about going in because we were sure that a cup of coffee would bankrupt us! We did it anyway! Wow! This is one of the most impressive interiors of any bar pub or restaurant I have ever seen!
The Christmas decorations inside are beautiful as well, they really had gone all out with a lot of thought put in. I guess the name gives away the fact that the building was once a bank, The Belfast Bank acquired the building in 1892 and this is when the building project began giving it this grandiose appearance. Down in the basement you can still see the vaults and safes once used when it was a bank. This was an awesome spot to have a coffee break during a day of exploration! We were also presently surprised that our coffees no where near bankrupted us and that the prices across the board were actually pretty reasonable. A wow moment for sure.
Caffeinated we made our way to the Guinness Storehouse…I don’t know what it is about Guinness but it is more than a beer, in a lot of ways it has reflected culture and been a sign of the times throughout the years, the adverts, the music, the style, the stories, the tradition, the reputation, it is almost soaked into the fabric of Irish and British life, known throughout the world…. I had been excited about visiting for a long long time! Look out for my post on our visit to Ireland’s number 1 visitor attraction coming soon!
After our prolonged visit to the Storehouse we had something to eat in Temple Bar and it was time to head off to collect our bags and head to the airport.
In 24 hours we had crammed so much in, we had taken in so many different types of attractions and sights, culture, history, architecture, food & drink…well mostly Guinness…but still drink all the same. Dublin is such a brilliant destination for a city break with warm friendly people, visitors all looking to enjoy the Irish traditions, this is one of those cities everyone should visit at least once in their lives. Rome is another city I would say that about, but whereas with Rome you should visit for the legendary history, Dublin you should visit for the legendary good craic!
Thanks for reading…tick that bucket list box and head over for a pint of Guinness in Dublin! Happy Travels!
You can book your stay at The Croke Park Hotel on TripAdvisor.