Ten Dublin Literary Attractions

Dublin is known worldwide as the capital of Ireland, hosting landmarks such as the Spire of Dublin, Trinity College and St Patrick’s Cathedral. Along with the UK’s Edinburgh, Melbourne, Australia, Iowa City in the U.S. and others, UNESCO recognizes Dublin as a City of Literature, reflecting the city’s rich and varied history of writers and writing.

As the birthplace of James Joyce and Nobel Literature Prize winners William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett, Dublin pays tribute to its literary heritage in a variety of ways. Statues, streets, bridges, pubs and book stores that make for a grand tour that visitors can take in an organized way or on their own.

James Joyce Centre is dedicated to a better understanding of the life and works of James Joyce and has exhibitions, events and workshops.

National Public Library of Ireland has the most comprehensive collection of Irish documentary material in the world. Talks and major exhibitions are hosted throughout the year.

Dublin Yarnspinners invites visitors to listen as the Storytellers of Ireland spin an array of tales, tall and otherwise, from its members on the second Thursday of every month.Bewley’s Cafe Theatre has lunchtime drama and one of the city’s most popular venues for evening cabaret, jazz and comedy every day by reservation.

Sweny’s Pharmacy
features daily readings from the works of James Joyce in the original pharmacy where Leopold Bloom bought lemon soap.

Trinity College has an official, student-guided walking tour of the historic campus on a daily, scheduled basis. The 30-minute tours run from mid-May to the end of September.

St Patrick’s Cathedral, where writer/satirist Jonathan Swift was dean from 1713 to 1745 is open every day. Visitors to the cathedral can see his tombstone and epitaph on an escorted tour.

Marsh’s Library was the first public library in Ireland, opening in 1701. With over 25,000 books relating to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries, the collections covers medicine, law, science, travel and more. Open daily except Tuesday and Sunday.

Dublin City Bike Tours are an easy, eco-friendly way to see the sights with local guides along for the ride. Starting in the lobby of Isaacs’s hostel, the tours run three hours and begin at 10 a.m. daily.

The Dublin Literary Pub Crawl is a fun, walking tour led by a team of professional actors who follow the footsteps of literary greats on an evening filled with prose, drama and song as we see in this video:

For more information on these and over 20 other Dublin literary attractions see www.dublincityofliterature.ie

[Flickr photos by infomatique]

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]

St. Patricks Day in Dublin – 10 spectacular events

With St. Patrick’s Day less than a month away, it may be time to start making some serious plans. If you have tired of drinking stale green beer and attending arbitrary parades that rarely coincide with the real St. Patty’s Day, then maybe it is time to celebrate the Irish festival in the land where it all began – Ireland.

In a country with pubs older than the Magna Carta, history abounds. You come to Ireland for this history, and perhaps the Guinness. Beyond these draws though, the kindness, spirit, and wit of the Irish is what truly sets Ireland apart. What better way to take in St. Patrick’s Day than with some gregarious locals in the Irish capital of Dublin?

Since Ireland was hit with a particularly nasty strain of the financial crisis, great deals are to be had. You can rent a car and take to the countryside for less than 10 Euros per day. Posh hotels like the Merrion that used to cost fortunes can now be had for just a hair over one-hundred US dollars per night. Round-trip flights from major U.S. travel hubs hover around $600. If ever a time existed to visit the Emerald Isle, that time is now.Dublin throws an amazing party for St. Patricks Day with events catering to both the boozy crowd and culture seeking revelers. The festivities last from March 16 to March 20, with the big parade on March 17. You can view the events program at the St. Patrick’s Festival website, but ten of the highlights include:

1. In the footsteps of St. Patrick walking tour – walking tour of Dublin based on St. Patrick, with the tour comes discounted entry into the Guinness Storehouse – free if your name is Patrick

2. Kilfenora Ceili Band – a 100 year old traveling Irish dance band

3. CEOL St. Patrick’s Day Eve – several well known Irish musicians perform on Vicar Street

4. Ganon Cup University Boat Race – a 60 year old tradition pits University College Dublin against Trinity College Dublin on a boat race down the River Liffey

5. St. Patrick’s Day Parade – Ireland’s top performance acts line the streets in an unforgettable parade

6. City at Play Funfairs – parts of Dublin are turned into Carnival fairgrounds

7. Text in the city – the audience texts topics to the Irish comedians onstage that perform hilarious skits similar to “Whose Line is it Anyways”

8. Between the Canals Premiere – movie premiere for a “gritty energetic urban tale”

9. Sharon Shannon – One of Ireland’s top musicians performs at the National Concert Hall

10. The Commitments 20th Anniversary Reunion Concert – the stars of the 1991 Irish film – The Commitments, will be performing a full concert together for the first time ever, at the O2.

flickr images via Infomatique

Top five cities for taxi drivers (and the bottom end, too)

When you step into a cab, you never know what you’re going to find. The driver could be knowledgeable, helpful, pleasant and safe. Or, he could lead you into a fender-bender in minutes. It’s a real roll of the dice, of course, though some cities’ cabbies are certainly better than others – at least that’s what hotels.com found.

In a study of world’s taxi drivers, hotels.com found that London’s are tops. But, you get what you pay for: London‘s taxis were also the most expensive. New York came in second, with 27 percent of the vote (compared to London’s overwhelming 59 percent). New York’s drivers ticked up 10 percentage points, but this still wasn’t enough to break the tie it scored with Paris for having the rudest cabbies. Rome picked up the dubious distinction of having the worst drivers.

Tokyo (26 percent), Berlin (17 percent) and Bangkok (14 percent) round out the world’s top five.

Madrid took sixth, followed by Copenhagen, Dublin, Frankfurt and Paris. So, Denmark may be happier, but Spain has better cab drivers.

Of course, there’s always one you should look out for …

[photo by Ben Fredericson via Flickr]

Texans denied entry into Ireland

This story is an example of a traveler’s nightmare as well as what it’s like to win the lottery–an is the glass half empty or half full sort of tale.

Three strapping young men, high school graduates from Plano, Texas landed in Dublin, Ireland ready to embark on a back-packing trip around Europe. They were eager. Excited. If you’ve done a similar trip, you know the feeling. Then they were asked two magic questions by immigration that they didn’t know the answer to.

“Where are you staying?” and “How much money do you have?” They needed a bank statement to prove they were solvent. They came up with goose eggs on both accounts.

They didn’t have a place to stay yet, therefore, no address. Evidently, they didn’t have proof of enough funds either so there they were. Instead of following where their adventurous selves felt like going, they were sent back to New York City.

Hearing of their plight, and that shame had befallen Ireland that prides itself on being friendly, an upscale hotel group d4hotels.ie has offered the trio an all expenses paid trip back to Ireland. They’ve also been offered free cell phone service for a week and probably free pints of Guinness.

The three have accepted the offer, but feel nervous about the black mark on their passports. Hopefully, their best dreams are coming true and that Plano will be left behind for awhile. Let’s see if any other countries want to show how friendly they are.