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    Guide to Smithfield and Stoneybatter

    Two of Dublin's oldest neighbourhoods have been making award-winning moves in recent years

    • #Dublin
    • #CityBreaks
    • #CultureandHeritage
    Daniel Condren | Images by Thérèse Aherne
    • #Dublin
    • #CityBreaks
    • #CultureandHeritage
    star-wars-last-jedi-malin-head-county-donegal star-wars-last-jedi-malin-head-county-donegal

    It’s official: Dublin is home to not one but TWO of the coolest neighbourhoods in the world! City guide aficionados Time Out placed Stoneybatter 42nd on their cool list in 2019, while Smithfield came a stunning 2nd in 2023. And the best bit? They’re right beside each other. So, what makes these spots so happening?

    For starters – location. Smithfield and Stoneybatter sit close to the River Liffey on Dublin’s northside, a handy 10-minute walk from the city centre and right on the doorstep of the Phoenix Park – the largest enclosed public park in Europe. Next, there’s the laid-back neighbourhood buzz and community vibes as students, creatives, inner-city families and young professionals all share space. Walk around and you’ll see Victorian-era cottages and glassy modern offices, cobblestones and lots of coffee shops. And finally, there’s the scene: as you’d expect from two of the city’s hippest areas, trendy restaurants and cool bars rub shoulders with greasy spoon cafés and old-school pubs. It’s this mix of old and new, community and creativity that makes these neighbourhoods feel fresh, friendly and constantly on the move.

    Stoneybatter has such a lovely community feel to it. You can barely walk down the street without stopping to chat to someone and for an area so close to the city centre that can be rare.

    Ray O'Neill, Slice

    Smithfield and Stoneybatter

    L-R: Smithfield Square; Fish Shop; terraced houses in Stoneybatter; Jameson Distillery Bow St

    Old-world Dublin

    The history of both neighbourhoods dates back to the mid-1600s when Smithfield Market was created as the focal point of a new Dublin suburb. Over the centuries, streets were developed and buildings went up around the central market square giving rise to the more residential district of Stoneybatter. It’s hard to imagine today, but in the latter part of the 17th century, the area was awash with traders, craftsmen and animals who crowded into Smithfield Market. A quaint remnant of the past is the Smithfield Horse Fair, which still takes place twice a year, on the first Sunday in March and September.

    Collins Barracks Collins Barracks

    National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts & History, Collins Barracks, Dublin

    Top things to see and do

    A good place to start exploring is Smithfield Square, on the site of the former market. Today, it’s a popular cultural spot with the indie Light House Cinema and the trad music mecca of the Cobblestone pub among its attractions. It’s also home to the Jameson Distillery which has a range of tours and experiences centred around one of the world’s most famous whiskeys. The distillery was established at this site by John Jameson in 1780, and employed hundreds of local people through the 1800s before the last drops of whiskey were distilled here in 1970. Looking for a good view? Pop into the Skyview Tower Dublin, which boasts panoramas of the city. A totally different experience is on offer at the nearby 11th century St Michan’s Church, which is one of the oldest parishes in Dublin. The underground vaults are the main draw here, as mummified bodies lie in open coffins covered by dust – it’s not for the faint-hearted.

    Close to Smithfield Square, the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History at Collins Barracks is home to exhibitions on an eclectic array of topics, including Irish military history, design and fashion. Best of all, admission is free. On either side of the museum, you’ll find intriguing memorial parks. Croppies’ Acre contains a memorial to the 1798 Rebellion, and Arbour Hill is the final resting place of the leaders of the 1916 Rising.

    Wellington Monument Phoenix Park Wellington Monument Phoenix Park

    Wellington Monument, Phoenix Park, Dublin

    Phoenix Park Bikes Phoenix Park Bikes

    Conal Keaney, Phoenix Park Bikes

    Bordering Stoneybatter is the Phoenix Park, a vast green landscape that’s home to Dublin Zoo, the Wellington Monument (the largest obelisk in Europe), and a huge Papal Cross erected for the papal visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979. The park was a royal hunting ground in the 1660s, and today a herd of wild fallow deer still roam the 707 hectares of grassland here. The vast space makes it great for walking, but according to Conal Keaney of Phoenix Park Bikes, “the best way to get around and see all the famous landmarks is by bike”.

    I love that we have one of the largest parks in Europe, right in the middle of the city.

    Conal Keaney, Phoenix Park Bikes

    Smithfield and Stoneybatter

    L-R: Katie Quinn, Lilliput Stores; Proper Order Coffee Co; Ray O'Neill, Slice; Third Space

    Tasty eats

    You could spend days wandering Smithfield and Stoneybatter doing nothing but drifting between third-wave coffee shops, trad-meets-modern eateries and salt-of-the-earth old pubs. So where to start? Buttermilk pancakes and slow-cooked beef brisket Bánh Mì make Slice in Stoneybatter a go-to for brunch or lunch. Or head to WUFF for a full Irish breakfast, chorizo Benedict and toasties. If you need a caffeine boost, then nip into Proper Order Coffee Co. They know their stuff here – the café has an Irish Barista Champion AND an Irish Brewers Cup Champion award. Third Space in Smithfield is a social enterprise designed to provide the community with a local gathering place. There’s a relaxed, friendly atmosphere with sandwiches and breakfast options. Nearby, Urbanity also pulls a good shot. They even roast the beans on-site.

    Fish Shop - Wine Fish Shop - Wine

    Fish Shop, Smithfield, Dublin

    Fish Shop - Menu Fish Shop - Menu

    Overlooking the tram lines on Benburb Street, Fish Shop is a stylish spot that makes the most of its small interior with a vast window, elegant marble countertops and whitewashed brick walls. Perch yourself on a stool and choose from a relaxed menu of super-fresh seafood, including Killary Fjord mussels, cockles in sherry, and the best fish and chips in town. Staff are chatty, the vibe is buzzy and the wine list is superlative.

    Tough decisions abound in Stoneybatter, where low-key Asian eateries vie with old-school gastro pubs. Head to Ramen Co for top-notch sushi, ramen and gyoza, or Hakkahan for Chinese fare. Italian food lovers are well served with Grano and A Fianco, or try Matsukawa in Smithfield for an excellent Japanese omakase experience.

    The Glimmer Man The Glimmer Man

    The Glimmer Man, Stoneybatter, Dublin

    One of the most popular spots on Stoneybatter main street is L Mulligan Grocer, a local institution and the place to go for seasonal, gastropub dishes. Inside, it’s all dark wood furnishings in the bar, while the restaurant part at the back is bathed in natural light. Time it lucky, and you might even get a trad music session thrown in for good measure.

    Love video games? Then you HAVE to visit Token in Smithfield, a retro arcade, bar and restaurant all rolled into one. Chow down on burgers, tacos and fries while playing 40 arcade and pinball machines from Pac-Man to Guitar Hero. The vibe here is fun and chilled out; the nostalgia hit will have you buzzing for hours afterwards.

    Smithfield and Stoneybatter

    L-R: The Cobblestone; Frank Ryan’s Bar; L Mulligan Grocer

    The perfect pub

    As you’d expect from a local inner city area, Stoneybetter and Smithfield have a lively pub scene with everything from classic “old-man’s” pubs to sceney newcomers. To tap along to traditional Irish music, it’s got to be The Cobblestone, one of Dublin’s most famous trad music pubs. The front space of this old pub is given over to musicians, poets and folk artists seven nights a week and is justifiably famous for its electric atmosphere. At the other end of the musical spectrum – and the other end of Smithfield Square – is Fidelity Bar, a hip spot serving up local craft beers and excellent tunes courtesy of their custom-designed, bespoke sound system. Right across the road from Fidelity is Frank Ryan’s Bar, with a dimly-lit, wood-panelled, bric-a-brac crammed interior that’s hard to leave!

    Fidelity Bar Interior Fidelity Bar Interior

    Fidelity Bar, Smithfield, Dublin

    In Stoneybatter, Walsh’s is another popular spot; it’s a great place to watch sports on TV and the Guinness is delicious. Further up the road is The Glimmer Man – come for the craft beers such as Wicklow Wolf and Five Lamps, stay to check out all the crazy knick-knacks on the walls and to enjoy the great Vietnamese food truck in the beer garden.

    Arran Street East - Landscape Arran Street East - Landscape

    Arran Street East, Smithfield, Dublin

    Shopping local

    To pick up some quality Irish artisan foods in the area, head to Lilliput Stores, an independent food store and grocer that’s ideal for bagging a souvenir or gift. The emphasis is very much on quality over quantity here, and it’s also great for picking up sandwiches and salads to go.

    Arran Street East is a craft and design studio specialising in pottery and woven homewares. Their ceramics and textiles would make for a quality gift, but note that the studio shop is collection only and items must be ordered online in advance. If you want to craft your own souvenir, book into a pottery workshop to create something unique first-hand!

    The gift shop at the National Museum of Ireland – Decorative Arts and History stocks a varied range of handmade Irish scarves and throws, traditional children’s toys, books, stationary and more, making it the perfect place to pick up a few holiday presents for family and friends. For trendier items, check out Damn Fine Print, a colourful printing studio that also serves as a print shop, workspace and art gallery. Adding a cool print by a local artist to your wall back home would be a lovely way to remember your trip to these artistic neighbourhoods.

    The Hendrick Hotel The Hendrick Hotel

    The Hendrick, Smithfield, Dublin

    Where to stay

    Like what you’ve heard so far and want to stay in the area? The Hendrick Smithfield is a solid three-star option located in the heart of the action, or try the Maldron Hotel Smithfield for an affordable four-star hub directly on Smithfield Square. Also on the square, you’ll find Generator Dublin, a chic hostel offering private and shared rooms. easyHotel Dublin City Centre is another good budget accommodation option.

    Near Stoneybatter, Ashling Hotel is a luxury four-star spot with an AA Rosette restaurant and a stylishly modern bar, while Glencourt Apartments offers self-catering stays.