A young man with dreadlocks strums his
guitar and belts out a first-rate cover of Pink Floyds Wish You
Were Here as the sun beats down on Grafton Street.
The signs of
spring are everywhere. Flower sellers have materialized seemingly
from nowhere and are selling their wares to shoppers patiently cued
up for the privilege. Young adults of both genders stroll along
wearing trendy, expensive clothes, sipping designer coffee drinks
and talking into cell phones.
scene, common in areas all around the Irish capital, epitomizes the
Dublin of today perhaps more than the stereotypical images from
years ago: dark pubs with sawdust on the floor, knit woolen
sweaters and stately Georgian buildings bursting with art and
This is not to
say that the traditional Ireland is not in Dublin for tourists to
enjoy: It is and likely always will be.
The fun for
visitors, however, is the contrast between the old and new and the
challenge, especially for those with only a few days to spare, of
trying to take it all in.
shoppers, Grafton Street is arguably the heart of the city,
starting at the statue of Molly Malone on the corner of Nassau
Street, referred to irreverently by locals as the Tart With the
Cart. The pedestrian-only district offers access to such upscale
shoe and clothing outlets as Clarks and Nine West, which sit
cheek-by-jowl next to the Brown Thomas department store and the
more moderately priced Marks & Spencer.
Book lovers can
spend hours at the Dublin Bookshop, where they can find everything
from best-sellers to works by Irish authors, followed by coffee or
tea at the celebrated Bewleys Oriental Cafe.
shoppers can head north on Grafton Street, crossing the Liffey
River onto OConnell Street and turning left on Henry Street, where
pedestrians have the right of way as they troll for bargains in
such stores as Penneys and H&M.
For a sampling of
Irish crafts, the Kilkenny Design Workshop on Nassau Street
showcases local handicrafts, from ceramics and textiles to jewelry
and other clothing fashioned from hand-woven and -dyed fabrics, and
designed with an individual twist are stacked to the ceiling in
tiny Cleos on Kildare Street. You wont find any bargains here, but
neither will you see your outfit in other stores in the city or at
Further up the
scale in terms of budget is the Louise Kennedy studio on Merrion
Square, where visitors can browse among the eclectic offerings of
one of Irelands most noted designers. Known in part for her crystal
and clothing, Kennedy also sells unique silver objets dart and
products by other designers.
For those not
born to shop, the city offers plenty of historical attractions, the
foremost being the Book of Kells, housed in the Old Library at
Trinity College. We advise springing for a guided student tour of
the campus to get the maximum benefit from the
culture with refreshment via a literary pub crawl, which combines
performances of works by favorite sons such as James Joyce, Samuel
Beckett and Brendan Behan with visits to historical Dublin
The tours, which
are priced at about $15, meet at the Duke Pub on Duke Street at
7:30 p.m. each evening.
Or bypass pubs
altogether and head straight to the source at the Guinness
Storehouse at St. Jamess Gate for an in-depth look at the making of
Irelands most famous brew, complete with visual and tactile
exhibitions along the way.
structure of the building is meant to resemble a tankard of beer,
with the highlight being the foam, if you will, which is a
roof-level bar where visitors can knock back a free pint while
admiring a 360-degree view of the city.
Be prepared to
line up for tickets and jostle for position at the bar, as this is
the top international visitor attraction in Ireland, drawing a
whopping 2.5 million visitors since it opened in 2000.
Theater is robust
in Dublin, where visitors can take in the hard stuff -- a Beckett
Centenary Festival during a recent visit showcased Samuel Becketts
Waiting for Godot, for example -- or go lighter with some comedy at
the Laughter Lounge, at Eden Quay on OConnell Bridge.
more offbeat, try outdoor Op-air (Opera in the Square) performances
in Meeting House Square in Dublins Temple Bar district, considered the citys Left Bank.
The performances are free, but seating is limited; viewers,
however, come and go as they please, so seats do open
Nature lovers can
experience Irelands green fields in Phoenix Park, the largest city
park in Europe; St. Stephens Green, which has a bust of James
Joyce; and the hidden gem Iveagh Gardens -- pronounced Ivy -- formerly the private estate of the Guinness
out of town with Dirty Boots Treks, which offers guided walks
through the flora and fauna of the countryside.
Unless you enjoy
sitting for hours in traffic, avoid renting a car while staying in
Dublin. Opt instead for walking -- the city is small enough that
most people can easily get around on foot -- taxis or public
Rambler passes for the citys bus network run from 5 euros (about
$6.35) for one day to 15 euros (about $19) for five
can be bought in conjunction with the Dublin Pass discount card
from the Leisure Pass Group, which includes free transfers to and
from Dublin Airport. Priced from about $37 for one day to about
$112 for six days, the pass also gets visitors free admission to
more than 30 attractions as well as discounts at shops and
navigate the streets by bicycle, its a bit dangerous and not
recommended for visitors.
information about Dublin, check out www.visitdublin.com, www.dublinpass.com
reporter Felicity Long, send e-mail to [email protected].