A Printable, Downloadable, PDF version of this itinerary is available for purchase. Includes Places to Stay in proximity.
ITINERARY AS EXCERPTED FROM KAREN BROWN’S E-BOOK:
“In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty . . .” goes the popular old ballad. The girls are certainly pretty and the city fair, if you can overlook the rash of modern office developments begun in the 1960s and the areas that have been razed and seemingly abandoned. Dublin now appears to have seen the error of its ways and efforts are being made to restore what the bulldozers have spared. A car is more trouble than it is worth in Dublin. If your visit here is at the outset of your trip, we suggest that you not get your car until you are ready to leave or-if Dublin is a stop on your trip-park it for the duration of your stay. Dublin is a walking town, so don comfortable shoes and set out to explore the buildings, streets, and shops of this bustling, friendly city. If you feel weary along the way, there is no shortage of pubs where you can revive yourself with a refreshing drink.
Recommended Pacing: If you select a few museums that appeal to you and simply skirt the exterior of the others, this walking tour can be accomplished in a day, which means that you will need two nights’ accommodation in Dublin.
Make your first stop the Dublin Tourism Centre, in a sturdy, granite church on Suffolk Street. Here you can book sightseeing tours; purchase ferry, train, and bus tickets; arrange lodgings; find out what is in Dublin-and enjoy a cup of coffee. Dublin is easily explored on foot, but as an introduction take one of the double-decker sightseeing buses. The tours run every ten minutes and wind a circular route through the city with a commentary on the significance of the buildings along the route. Your ticket is valid for twenty-four hours. The bus makes frequent stops so you can take the entire tour for an overview of what there is to see and then later use it as transportation between the sights, hopping on and off to visit the places that interest you.
Our walking tour begins at the southern end of O’Connell Street where O’Connell Bridge spans the River Liffey dividing the north from the south of Dublin. (It is also just by the city center terminus for buses: those displaying “An Lar,” meaning city center, usually end up here.) Turn south into Westmoreland Street past the somber, windowless Bank of Ireland, which began life in 1729 as the seat of the Irish parliament. Cross the street and enter through the front arch of Trinity College into the cobbled square. Founded in 1591 by Elizabeth I, it contains a fine collection of buildings from the 18th to the 20th centuries. Cross the square to the library, where a display center houses the jewel of Trinity College, the Book of Kells, a Latin text of the Four Gospels. A page of this magnificent, illuminated manuscript is turned every month and if you are not overly impressed by the page on display, return to the library bookshop and browse through a reproduction. While at the college visit The Dublin Experience, a sophisticated audio-visual presentation that orients you to the main events of Irish history.
Retrace your steps to the front gate and turn south into pedestrians-only Grafton Street, teeming with people and enlivened by street musicians. Its large, department store, Brown Thomas, is popular with visitors.
At the end of Grafton Street, dodge the hurrying buses and cross into the peaceful tranquility of St. Stephen’s Green, an island of flowers, trees, and grass surrounding small lakes dotted with ducks. On the far side of the square, at 85 and 86 St. Stephen’s Green, is Newman House, once the home of the old Catholic University (later University College Dublin), which boasted James Joyce amongst its distinguished graduates. Number 85 is restored to its pristine, aristocratic years of the 1740s. On the ground floor are wall reliefs of the god Apollo and his nine muses, done elaborately in stucco. A staircase of Cuban mahogany leads to a reception room with more riotous plasterwork figures on the ceiling. Number 86 has some rooms with interesting associations with the Whaley family and Gerard Manley Hopkins, and the Bishop’s Room has been restored to its Victorian splendor.
Return to the north side of the square to the landmark Shelbourne Hotel, long recommended as the perfect place to enjoy afternoon tea. Follow Merrion Row and turn left into Merrion Street passing the back of Leinster House, the Irish Parliament. It consists of two chambers-the Dáil, the lower house, and the Seanad, the upper house or senate. You can tour the building when parliament is not in session. Adjacent to the parliament building is the National Gallery of Ireland, which is a Victorian building with about 3,000 works of art. There’s a major collection of Ireland’s greatest painter, Jack Yeats, and works by Canaletto, Goya, Titian, El Greco, Poussin, Manet, Picasso, and many others.
Merrion Square is one of Dublin’s finest remaining Georgian squares and the onetime home of several famous personages-William Butler Yeats lived at 82 and earlier at 52, Daniel O’Connell at 51, and Oscar Wilde’s parents occupied number 1. The jewel of Merrion Square is Number 29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street (corner of Lower Fitzwilliam Street and Upper Mount Street), a magnificently restored, late 18th-century townhouse. From the basement through living rooms to the nursery and playroom, the house is meticulously furnished in the style of the period 1790-1820.
Stroll into Clare Street, stopping to browse in Greene’s Bookstore with its lovely, old façade and tables of books outside.
Detour into Kildare Street, where you find the National Museum displaying all the finest treasures of the country. There are marvelous examples of gold, bronze, and other ornaments, as well as relics of the Viking occupation of Dublin-the 8th-century Tara Brooch is perhaps the best-known item here.
With your back to the front gate of Trinity College, cross into Dame Street, where the statue of Henry Grattan, a famous orator, stands with arms outstretched outside the parliament building. Walk along Dame Street past Dublin’s most famous 1960s “modern” building, the Central Bank, which looks like egg boxes on stilts. Go under the bank and you are in Temple Bar, with its narrow cobbled streets and little old buildings. In the daytime it’s a place of coffee houses and little shops. At night its narrow streets become very vibrant as the clubs open with many good pubs and lots of restaurants-a favorite place for young people. Returning to Dame Street and a more sedate side of Dublin, you come to Dublin Castle, built in the early 13th century on the site of an earlier Danish fortification. The adjoining 18th-century State Apartments with their ornate furnishings are more impressive inside than out.
Returning to Dame Street, you pass City Hall and, on your right, the impressive Christ Church Cathedral comes into view. Dedicated in 1192, it has been rebuilt and restored many times. After the Reformation when the Protestant religion was imposed on the Irish people, it became a Protestant cathedral (Church of Ireland). The large crypt remained as a gathering spot and marketplace for the locals (Catholics) who used it for many years, until a rector expelled them because their rowdiness was interrupting church services. Another point of interest is Strongbow’s Tomb: he was one of the most famous Norman lords of Ireland and, by tradition, debts were paid across his tomb. When a wall collapsed and crushed it, a replacement-an unknown crusader’s tomb-was conscripted and named Strongbow’s Tomb.
Joined to the cathedral by a covered bridge arching across the street is Dublina, where you learn the history of Dublin through an audio-visual display. You conclude your tour at the large-scale model of the city and the gift shop.
At the junction of High Street and Bridge Street, pause to climb the restored remains of a portion of Dublin’s Walls. When they were built in 1240, the walls fronted onto the River Liffey.
Just down Thomas Street is that thriving Dublin institution, the Guinness Brewery, whence flows the national drink. As you near your goal, the smell of roasting grains permeates the air. The Guinness Storehouse, a 7-story glass atrium, is built on the site where Arthur Guinness first signed his 9000-year brewery lease in 1759. Journey through the history of the brewing process, learn the story of the Guinness family, and end your tour with a pint of the black stuff in the Gravity bar with its panoramic views of the city. Of course there are lots of opportunities to purchase souvenirs of all-things Guinness.
If you decide not to visit the Guinness Brewery, cross diagonally from the walls to the Brazen Head in Bridge Street, where you can enjoy that same brew in Dublin’s oldest pub. There has been a tavern on this site since Viking times, though the present, rather dilapidated, premises date from 1688. It’s always a crowded spot that comes alive late in the evening, when musicians gather for impromptu sessions of traditional music.
Cross the River Liffey and, strolling along the Inns Quay, you come to the Four Courts, the supreme and high courts of Ireland. You can look inside the fine, circular waiting hall under the beautiful green dome, which allows light through its apex.
Turn left up Capel Street and make the third right into Mary Street which leads to the busiest pedestrian shopping street in Dublin, Henry Street. A short detour down Moore Street takes you through Dublin’s colorful open-air fruit, vegetable, and flower market.
On reaching O’Connell Street, turn left. O’Connell Street has its share of tourist traps and hamburger stores, but it’s a lively bunch of Dubliners who walk its promenades-placard-carrying nuns, nurses collecting for charity, hawkers of fruit, flowers, and plastic trinkets-all are there for you to see as you stroll along this wide boulevard and continue past the Gate Theatre into Parnell Square. At the north end of the square in a restored 18th-century mansion, you find the Dublin Writer’s Museum, where you can view the paintings and memorabilia with an audio tape telling you all about them. Among those featured are George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, and Samuel Beckett.
Retrace your steps down O’Connell Street to the General Post Office. The GPO, as it is affectionately known, is a national shrine known as the headquarters of the 1916 revolution. Pass the statue of Daniel O’Connell and the millennium “spike” and you are back at your starting point, O’Connell Bridge.
We have not mapped this tour on the adjacent map because the mapping does not allow for walking in opposition to the direction of one-way streets and because when the line is drawn the street names are not visible.