Although I’ve visited a quite a few cities and towns across Northern and the Republic of Ireland, I’d never made it to Dublin so was excited to see what the capital had to offer and how much I could fit into 3 days.
A few weeks’ ago my sister and I took my Mum to Dublin to celebrate a big milestone birthday of hers. The trip was an opportunity to spend some quality time together and also research a bit of my heritage.
Like lots of people in the North West of England, I have Celtic roots. My Nana was born and lived in Dublin before moving to Lancashire when she was 12 years old. Her father (my great grandfather) was a lock keeper on the Grand Canal and this was the first time we were going to visit together.
We had an early flight which meant we had a full first day when we arrived. After getting the Aircoach from the airport, we got off at Ha’penny Bridge and headed to Queen of Tarts for brunch. They’re famous for their scones and cakes (which looked absolutely incredible) and they do offer a vegan special but it was still a bit early for me, so I opted for my basic bitch staple of avo on toasted sourdough.
After we had refueled, it was a 5 minute walk to Dublin Castle which was totally not what I expected. Disclosure: I’m a big fan of castles. But, this is not a castle; it’s a palace. Which is OK, but totally different obviously. Filled with luxurious fabrics, gold framed paintings and sumptuous interiors we all enjoyed spending a couple of hours walking around. It was also a great shout for a rainy day activity too as the weather had been pretty awful since we landed.
Next on the itinerary was a visit to St Patrick’s Cathedral, the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. I’m not religious, but I do love churches and cathedrals. The statues and stained glass windows and floor tiles; never mind the stone carvings are just all amazing and it’s definitely worth a visit. They still run services so you could tie it in with that if you’re interested, but I just took some time out to sit in a small chapel at the back and reflect.
During our time here, the heavens opened and the rain was heavy so we buttoned up and braved the 15 minute walk to the Guinness Storehouse. You’re in Dublin, it’s basically the law that you have to visit the Guinness Storehouse. An interactive museum and experience over 7 floors covering how the famous black stuff is made as well as all the brilliant marketing campaigns over the years. Included in your ticket price is a pint (well, it would be rude not to!) which you can cash in at a few different bars inside. We chose the Gravity Bar on the top floor with view overlooking the city. I honestly don’t know if it was all the subliminal messaging of the tour, or the fact we had done 7 floors and were gasping; but it really was the best pint of Guinness I’ve ever had (and I’ve had my fair share). If I’d had my way I’d have stayed for a few more, but we had dinner reservations so we drank up and moved on.
Our first night dinner was at Red Ginger Torch a Thai restaurant that had great vegan options for me, but also a range of meat and fish for my Mum and sister. I was boring and had Pad Thai (which is what I always have, but know I’m never disappointed). My sister had the same but my Mum had a soy marinated sea bass dish which she loved. Afterwards we headed to our Air bnb to rest after a really long day.
Day 2 started with bright and breezy weather and a walk along the canal to Leeson St Bridge where my great grandfather lived and worked. This route took us all the way to the beautiful park at St Stephen’s Green and through to Grafton St. We visited Bewley’s for brunch which had been recommended by so many people. It’s a classic tea room with gorgeous interiors. They don’t take reservations but we only waited around 10 minutes for our table and had an Irish breakfast (Mum), poached eggs and smoked salmon on toast (sister) and roast veg sandwich (me) followed by coffee and cakes. They also have a little shop on site so it’s a great place to pick up gifts of tea or coffee for friends and family!
Just round the corner is the Phil Lynott statue. When I mentioned that was our next stop to the waiter, he said I must be a big Thin Lizzy fan. I said I wasn’t sure what constituted a big fan. He responded with, “knowing more than 3 songs!” So I said, “Yeah, I guess I’m a big fan!”
After saying hello to Phil, we headed to the Little Museum of Dublin which I think was one of my favourite places on this trip. It’s a 4 storey Georgian house that has been converted into a museum thanks to donations from the public. They offer an Irish half hour tour (29 minutes 🙂 ) where they take you through the rooms and cover some of the history of Dublin covering politics, geography, film and music among other topics. It was a fun way to spend an hour or so.
After a refresh at the Air bnb, we then went for my mum’s birthday meal at The Ivy I personally would have chosen a restaurant that was unique to Dublin, rather than a chain, but it’s one of my mum’s favourites in Manchester. The atmosphere was bustling and the decor is just as lovely as their other sites (including some of my favourite toilets ever!) After cocktails, my sister and I both had the vegan curry and my mum had a steak – all were great. They even brought a little strawberry cream cake with a candle on for my mum which was a really lovely touch.
On our way back to the Air bnb we went for a nightcap in O’Donoghue’s – a traditional Irish pub with live folk music every night. Obviously we had pints of Guinness and we sat a listened to some traditional songs along with some more popular covers. It gets busy so it’s usually just standing room but this feels like it ticks the Irish pub box without being overly touristy.
On our last day, we started by walking to Trinity College and had a walk around the grounds. This is where the Book of Kells is kept – a 9th century manuscript documenting the four Gospels of the life of Jesus Christ. It is referred to as Ireland’s greatest cultural treasure and the world’s most famous medieval manuscript. Buttttt, we were all a bit maxed out from museums so we skipped this and went straight to the best bit – the Long Room library and the gift shop.
After we walked up to George St Arcade and had a wander around the shops. This area is full of the more eclectic, smaller and independent brands. Then we headed up to Grafton St where there are more of the usual high street shops. Lunch was at Cornucopia – a veggie canteen style eaterie with a changing fresh menu and lots of vegan options too. This was really yummy and great value for money with big portion sizes.
After this was just had time to go and collect our bags and head to the airport ready for our flight home. By this point, the cold and the rain and the wind had got me so I was full of a cold and slept the whole flight home!
It was such a special weekend for my family and has definitely ignited a desire in me to go back to Dublin again. There were so many other things on my list, like the National Leprechaun Museum that I definitely want to check out next time. Plus some cool bars and record shops that were not really my mum and sister’s cup of tea.
I’d love to know your top tips or places you have loved when you’ve visited Dublin!