Creative City - Literature

Trinity College Dublin

First time in Dublin? Here are 10 attractions you shouldn't miss.

The Guinness Storehouse, Dublin

1 THE GUINNESS STOREHOUSE

Perhaps the most famous of all Ireland’s exports, Guinness is no marketing gimmick – you’ll see it being enjoyed by the locals as much as by visitors. ‘When life looks black as the hour of night/ A pint of plain is your only man’ as poet Flann O’Brien put it; though it’s just as good when things are looking up. Go and see where it all started in St James’s Gate brewery.

Trinity College, Dublin city
The Book of Kells, Dublin city

3 THE BOOK OF KELLS

Ireland’s reputation as the land of saints and scholars is cemented by the illuminated early Christian manuscripts housed in Trinity. After the Roman Empire’s retreat in the 4th century Europe became a battleground. Ireland in the far west, partially protected by the sea, was a haven, and gave rise to a monastic tradition that prized learning and artistry. By the 6th century the island was a beacon of culture throughout Europe.

The Book of Kells, written by monks in the 9th century who reportedly smuggled it to safety in the face of Viking attacks, is now beautifully presented in the Long Room, itself a magical, Harry Potter-style library. Along with the Book of Kells, Trinity also holds the Book of Durrow and the Book of Armagh, just some of the frankly jaw-dropping illustrated manuscripts that are on display.

Glasnevin Graveyard and Museum, Dublin

4 GLASNEVIN CEMETERY

It might seem an odd excursion but Glasnevin Cemetery is not only beautiful, it is the final resting place of the giants of modern Ireland.

The cemetery was opened in 1832 and the meticulously kept records of the 1.5 million burials are a boon to historians and genealogists. The visitor centre gives an intriguing insight into the birth of the nation.

Trinity College, Dublin city

5 TRINITY COLLEGE 

Although founded in 1592, Trinity was largely built during the 18th and early 19th centuries, and its cobbled squares reflect Dublin’s Georgian past. The city is unimaginable without its graceful architecture, yet it was nearly destroyed in the 1960s by philistine government policy.

For a peep at 18th century life, visit No. 29 Georgian House Museum on Lower Fitzwilliam Street.

Natural History Museum, Dublin

6 NATIONAL MUSEUMS

Dublin is blessed with museums – all of mercifully manageable size. The National Museum of Ireland Archaeology has a staggering collection of prehistoric gold artefacts, early Celtic and medieval pieces. The National Gallery houses paintings from the early Renaissance onwards, and you’ll find folklife, jewellery, weaponry and clothing at the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History in Collins Barracks.

St Stephen's Green, Dublin

7 ST STEPHEN'S GREEN

St Stephen’s Green is the centre of a large Georgian square, the gardens given over to public use in the 19th century. Mature trees, pretty flowerbeds and sweeping lawns draw office workers in droves at lunchtime. The rest of the time you share the space with a few shoppers, bookworms on benches and the notably well-fed ducks in the little lake.

There are small gates dotted along the perimeter railings but the main entrance opposite the top of Grafton Street is Fusilier’s Arch, built in 1907 to commemorate the Irish soldiers who died in the Boer War.

Dublin Castle

8 DUBLIN CASTLE

Dublin Castle has been an administrative centre, a court, a fortress, even a site of execution. In truth it feels more like a rambling campus than an actual castle but it’s the setting for every big state event, including presidential inaugurations. Wander the grounds, or take a guided tour to the state apartments, medieval undercroft and the Chapel Royal.

Little Museum of Dublin

9 LITTLE MUSEUM OF DUBLIN

Tucked away on St Stephen’s Green is the Little Museum of Dublin, three floors of charming rooms exhibiting all manner of things donated by the public after an appeal for ‘historic objects’. That sounds like a recipe for claustrophobic confusion, but the skillful designers and curators have amply fulfilled their brief – to tell the story of Dublin through the turbulent 20th century – in a restful space. Take a tour; visitors have been known to recognise a family heirloom and take over the storytelling from the guide.

Dublin's Phoenix Park

10 PHOENIX PARK

At 17,752 acres (707 hectares), Phoenix Park is one of the biggest parks in any European capital. Certainly Dubliners enjoy its woodlands and lakes for strolling, cycling and picnicking.

It started life as a deer park, created by the Duke of Ormond in the 17th century, and it is still home to Áras an Uachtaráin, the President of Ireland’s official residence, several stately homes that are open to the public and many monuments, such as the Papal Cross and the Wellington Monument. The deer are still there too; alternatively you can encounter something more exotic at Dublin Zoo

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