February 28, 2018
Pic: The Morrison Hotel
If you’re on the lookout for a cultural weekend away then Dublin should be on the top 5 of your wish list. Increasingly easy to reach with low cost flights or ferry options - I’ve done both in the past couple of months - albeit on the ferry via a tour bus (the perks of being the wife of a drummer).
Grab some Euro’s but be warned – it’s not cheap once you’re there!
We stayed at The Morrison, a super stylish Hilton Hotel, set right in the heart of the city on the banks of the Liffy, overlooking the popular & lively Temple Bar quarter. With a contemporary, cosy feel and eager to please staff it turned out to be a perfect base for us.
Dublin is super busy but quite compact so you can walk just about everywhere.
We kicked off our stay with a visit to the home of the black stuff - the Guinness Storehouse, rated Ireland's most popular tourist attraction. With seven floors of exhibits it’s a great way to spend an afternoon learning all about the history of Ireland’s world famous beer, from the processing to the advertising. The experience was finished off with a tasty free Guinness up in the 360° rooftop bar with views of the whole of the city, you can even have a go at pulling your own pint.
The city is packed full of cafes, historic pubs and restaurants so you’re almost too spoilt for choice. On our first evening we managed to find a big table at a family run Greek restaurant aptly called Corfu, no mean feat for a rather large group on a Friday evening. Cosy and charming, they were very accommodating especially with my newly adopted vegan dietary requirements. It had a simple but delicious traditional Greek Menu including Stifado (Greek casserole) and Pastichio (a popular Greek oven baked dish). They even rounded off our meal with a complimentary round of Sambucas to send us on our way.
Strolling around the pretty streets on our second day we fell upon the bustling Middle Eastern cafe Umi Falafel on Dame Street. It’s only small but very popular with the locals (which is always a good sign) serving authentic falafel, made to a secret family recipe with freshly baked breads, salads, mezzes & fresh juices. It was affordable and very tasty with a relaxed, casual atmosphere.
Although we didn’t have time to venture in I have to give a shout out to the delightful Le Petit Parisien, a French bakery & cafe on Wicklow Street which certainly grabbed my attention, oozing classic Parisienne style with pastries to die for. It’s top of my list for next time!
The highlight of our stay had to be our visit to Kilmainham Gaol, a former prison decommissioned in 1924. We spent a good few hours here but could have stayed a lot longer it was so interesting and informative. During it’s time the prison held some of Ireland's most famous political leaders & rebels and although quite sombre at times, the care and attention the volunteers have given to the restoration was outstanding. Our guide really breathed life into the stories of some of the people who were held there. It was amazing to see the actual cells of inmates & the courtyard where some of the revolutionaries were executed. For only €8 each this is a fantastic place but be warned - pre-booking is essential!
With a few hours to spare I always love wandering around side streets and dipping in and out of the local shops. Arnotts on Henry Street is the city’s largest and oldest department store founded in 1843 - it deserves a visit solely for its history.
Brown Thomas on Grafton Street is another big retail store, it’s Dublin’s answer to Selfridges run by the same people as the famed London store. Housing four floors of luxury clothing, cosmetics & home wares it’s a treasure trove of goodies.
Make sure you leave a little time for exploring Dublin’s fine independent stores like Cocoa Atelier (a chocolate lover's dream) and The Irish Design Shop (contemporary home grown crafts including ceramics, stationary & jewellery) both located on Drury Street.
My favourite though was a shop called Article on South William Street. Located in Powerscourt Townhouse, in what was originally Lords Powerscourt’s dressing room, it was the perfect backdrop to showcase everything for the home from the practical to the whimsical. I could have spent a small fortune in here!
All in all we had a fabulous weekend, everyone was so friendly and welcoming, the city certainly lived up to its promise of culture and ‘the craic’.
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