Four Dublin Attractions Not To Be Missed

One of Europe’s oldest and greatest cities, Dublin not only retains its historic and cultural identity, but hosts a variety of current, relevant attractions. With a wide variety of friendly bars, stylish shops, elegant restaurants and sidewalk cafes, deciding what to do in Dublin can be tough. But on a recent visit, we stopped by several must-see attractions that give a real feel for the city, its people and its rich heritage.

The Guinness Storehouse is home to arguably the most famous beer in the world. On a 90-minute walking tour, visitors go through the history behind the brand as well as the production process from beginning to end.

Old Jameson Distillery is a good alternate for those who prefer whiskey to beer. Here, visitors learn what makes Irish the best whiskey in the world and get a chance to sample the Uisce beatha – the water of life.St Patrick’s Cathedral was founded in 1191 and has contributed much to Irish life since then. The first performance of Handel’s Messiah and its choir are claims to fame as is the fact that Jonathan Swift, the Anglo-Irish satirist, essayist and political pamphleteer, was Dean here in the 18th century.

The Church Bar and Restaurant is the beautifully restored former St Mary’s church and one of Dublin’s most popular drinking and dining places. Hosting beautiful stained glass windows, an organ once played by Handel and a basement burial crypt, the Church bar, gallery restaurant and nightclub is a top Dublin attraction.

A great way to see Dublin and all it has to offer is via the Hop On Hop Off city tour bus that has 24 stops along its route. The entire tour takes about an hour and a half, runs from 9:00 a.m. to 3:30 p.m. and can be joined from any of the stops along the way.

But just walking down the street, pretty much any street in Dublin make for some great travel memories in a city bursting with color, music, events, sights and scenes.

[Photos- Chris Owen]

Gun-Running Ship On Display At National Museum Of Ireland

A historic gun-running ship from Ireland’s struggle for independence has gone on display at Dublin’s National Museum of Ireland.

The Asgard was built in 1905 for Erskine and Molly Childers, leading Irish nationalists. In 1914, they used the vessel to run guns to the Irish Volunteers in Howth. The smugglers brought in 900 German Mausers and a stock of ammunition, some of which later saw use in the famous standoff at the Dublin General Post Office during the Easter Uprising.

Authorities learned of the shipment, but that helped turn it into a propaganda coup. The Asgard had slipped through a British fleet to make it to shore and Irish nationalists managed to spirit the guns away. The soldiers stationed nearby only managed to grab three guns, and had to return them because they had seized them illegally!

Tragically, when marching back to their barracks, the soldiers met an unarmed crowd that jeered them. One of the soldiers fired, and this led to more shots. Four civilians were killed, including one by bayonet wounds. The Asgard’s victory and bloody aftermath added more fuel to the fire of Irish nationalism.

Erskine Childers was a keen sailor all his life and wrote the classic spy novel “Riddle of the Sands,” in which two yachtsmen discover a sinister German plot in the Baltic Sea. Well worth reading!

10 free things to do in Dublin, Ireland

With the big St. Patrick’s Day festival in Dublin, Ireland, coming up it’s likely that people traveling to Dublin in the near future should expect to bring lots of extra cash. Although you may need to splurge on food and festivities, there are ways to help you save money on other aspects of your trip. To help Dublin travelers make their trips as budget-friendly as possible, here are ten free things to do in the city.

Stroll through the National Botanic Gardens

The National Botanic Gardens is home to various plants as well as serene woodland settings, lush trees, romantic bridges, and peaceful ponds that make for enjoyable scenery on a midday stroll. To help expand your knowledge of flora even further, programming that includes discussions, workshops, and films is available to the public. Furthermore, every Sunday visitors can take a free guided walking tour at 12 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.Take a free walking tour of the city

When traveling through Europe, I swear by SANDEMAN’s NEW Europe walking tours. These tours are completely free and guides get paid in tips only. While this may seem risky, the quality of the tours is so high it really isn’t a problem for the guides. During the Dublin tour, you will learn the history of city sites in a fun and interactive way while also stopping off at a traditional English pub for lunch. If you still want more, sign up for their nightly pub crawl.

Explore Trinity College

Trinity College is not your average university college; in fact, it’s not only beautiful but historical. The college, which is the oldest in Ireland, was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 and features neatly manicured lawns, charming cobblestone paths, and beautiful Georgian architecture. While it’s free to walk around the campus and take photos, there is an admission fee to go see the ancient “Book of Kells” which is located in the Old Library.

Check out the street performers on Grafton

Street performing, or busking, is very popular in Dublin. If you want to increase your chances of seeing top-notch performances, head over to Grafton Street, which is the unofficial stage for street entertainment. Here you’ll be able to see everything from acoustic performers to people on stilts juggling basketballs.

Trek the Howth Coastal Path and feed the seals

At the northern tip of Dublin Bay, you will find the beautiful area of Howth Head (shown right). During a coastal walk of the region, you will be able to view Lambay Island, Ireland’s Eye, Baily Lighthouse, Howth Castle, and the Wicklow Mountains as you traverse over rugged cliff tops. Additionally, you’ll be able to feed seals once you reach Howth Harbour and stop for lunch at local pubs along the way. You can begin the hike east of Howth Village at the Balscadden Bay parking area and make your way around the Nose of Howth.

Learn some history and culture at a local museum

When visiting a city, it’s always a good idea to get a sense of the place by visiting a museum. One of Dublin’s best free museums is the National Museum of Ireland, which is actually a set of separate museums containing exhibits on archeology, history, culture, decorative arts, and more. Additionally, if you stop by the former Mariner’s Church there is the National Maritime Museum of Ireland, which allows visitors to explore the country’s maritime history. The museum is closed right now but will reopen on April 3, 2012. The Irish Jewish Museum, the National Photographic Archive, and Pearse Museum are also excellent free museums to add to your budget-friendly itinerary.

Get creative at an art museum

There are plenty of options in Dublin where you can experience high quality art for free. Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art features an array of impressionist and postimpressionist artists, with the main component being from Hugh Lane, an Irish art connoisseur who died in the 1915 sinking of the Lusitania. If you’re there April-June, you can enjoy a free summer concert series that takes place each Sunday. There is also the country’s most popular art gallery, the National Gallery of Ireland, where you can explore Irish and European art from the 14th-20th centuries. Other options for free art include the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Chester Beatty Library, and the Temple Bar Gallery and Studio.

Explore the Docklands

This is one of my favorite area’s of Dublin, especially since you don’t need to spend any money to enjoy its aesthetic features. There’s nothing like witnessing the city skyline behind the River Liffey and visitors will get the chance to take in unique art galleries, lively markets, beautiful bridges, Mayor Square, Chimney Park, Grand Canal Square, and lots of public art.

Get religious at a local church

While the more well-known churches like St. Patrick’s Cathedral and Christ Church Cathedral charge an admission fee outside of mass times, there are many other beautiful and worthwhile places of worship that are free to enter. There is Saint Ann’s Church of Ireland (shown right), which incorporates an array of unique architectural styles and features memorials of well-known Dublin locals; Our Lady of Mount Carmel, where you can see a 16th-century shrine of Our Lady of Dublin along with relics of Saint Valentine; and Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral, the Cathedral Church of the Archdiocese of Dublin.

Take in natural beauty at a Dublin park

There are many picturesque parks in Dublin where visitors can play sports, people-watch, read a book, or just lounge on a sunny day. First there is St. Stephen’s Green, with bright floral gardens, charming fountains, and various memorials honoring notable Dubliners. There’s also Phoenix Park, which was established in 1662 and is one of the “largest enclosed recreational spaces within any European capital city.” Merrion Square Park is also a worthwhile visit and features historical sculptures, beautiful gardens, and live performances.

Video: Chaos breaks out in Dublin, Ireland, as severe flooding brings the city to a standstill

On October 24, 2011, major flooding to Dublin, Ireland, caused the Dublin City Council to put into action its major emergency plan. Homes, cars, major roads, and even shopping centers were submerged underwater as rainfall failed to cease. In some areas of the city, inflatable boats had to be used to rescue stranded motorists, while roads leading out of the city experienced 3-hour delays. A number of rivers broke their banks and overflowed, and an off-duty police officer who lives close to one of these rivers is currently missing.

See the natural disaster for yourself in this video compilation of live footage:

American Civil War anniversary remembered. . .in Dublin

As the United States begins a series of commemorations of the 150th anniversary of the Civil War, this momentous conflict is even being marked beyond the nation’s borders.

This weekend the National Museum of Ireland in Dublin is having a series of events to mark the contribution of Irish immigrants on both sides of the Civil War. While most Irish immigrants went to the industrial North and thus ended up in the Union army, there were a significant number of Irish Confederates as well. Also, the famous New York City draft riots were mostly instigated by poor Irish immigrants who objected to the fact that rich people could buy their way out of the draft.

Unless you’re in Dublin at the moment you’ll miss the lectures and free live music, but if you’re going to Dublin check out the museum’s permanent Soldiers & Chiefs exhibition at Collins Barracks, which outlines Irish military history including the Irish people’s part in the American Civil War.

[Image of Lt. Col. James J. Smith and officers of 69th New York Infantry (Irish Brigade) courtesy Library of Congress]