Ireland's capital, the ‘Fair City' of Dublin is a cultural Mecca for lovers of art, literature, music, and those that simply enjoy a good time. Being responsible for many notable actors, writers and musicians over the centuries, including the likes of George Bernard Shaw, Bram Stocker and Oscar Wilde, Sir Michael Gambon, Colin Farrell and Gabriel Byrne, U2, Thin Lizzy and Sinéad O'Connor, the city also has a reputation as a European centre for creativity.
Dublin also has a reputation for some of the liveliest nightlife in the world, much of which can be found particularly on Leeson Street, Camden Street and in the legendary Temple Bar. Fans of Gaelic football will want to visit Crooke Parke stadium, and keen shoppers will find a world-class retail experience on Grafton Street, Henry Street, and in Clerys on O'Connell Street.
Being in the centre of Dublin immediately puts you right in the heart of one of Europe’s liveliest and most charismatic capital cities. Dublin’s character, charm, and the welcoming nature of its people instantly makes visitors feel right at home. The city’s history stretches back as far as the Vikings but, since that time, it’s grown into one of the most splendid locations in Europe, filled with fabulous Georgian architecture, pubs, and parklands that jostle for position among the already magnificent churches and cathedrals.
By St James’s Gate, on the site of the brewery that Arthur Guinness paid to lease for 9000 years, back in 1759, is a museum and exhibition dedicated to the tradition, history and production of, arguably, the world’s most recognised pint. The main entrance is the Atrium, which is technically the world’s largest pint glass, before a tour takes visitors through the brewing process, and demonstrates how natural ingredients, time honoured tradition, and modern technology combine to create the famous stout. On the fourth floor, visitors are invited to try their hand at pouring the Perfect Pint, with successful trainees receiving a certificate and the chance to enjoy their drink in the Perfect Pint Bar.
For true connoisseurs of Irish whiskey, a visit to The Old Jameson Distillery is a must. Located in Bow Street, the site of John Jameson’s first distillery offers an intriguing and amusing tour through the Irish whiskey process and of course, ends with a taste of the real stuff itself. There to give you a guided tour through the mystical, secretive process of distilling the legend that has become Jameson’s Irish Whiskey, experts take you through the whole process, carefully recreated in the original building that first produced the best-selling Irish whiskey in the world.
The largest church in Ireland, taking 79 years to complete between 1191 and 1270, St Patrick’s Cathedral sits on the site formally occupied by a 5th century church where the patron saint is said to have baptized the local Celtic chieftains. Suffering through the years from fires, storm damage, and, not least, being converted to a giant stable for the horses of Oliver Cromwell’s New Model Army, the Cathedral now houses the tomb of Jonathon Swift, writer of Gulliver's Travels, and Dean from 1713 to 1745.
One of the largest unoccupied prisons in Europe, Kilmainham Gaol offers a rawer, more brutal look at Dublin’s history. Decommissioned in 1924, the Gaol has been restored and open to the public since 1971 and includes a museum on the history of Irish nationalism, the political and penal history of the prison, a look at its retoration, and an art gallery displaying the paintings, sculptures and jewellery work of current prisoners from all over Ireland.
One of Europe’s most famous cities and certainly one its friendliest, Dublin never fails to leave a lasting impression on anyone who visits. Spending your time around the bustling city centre may sound exhausting, but Dubliners haven’t lost the knack for stopping and taking a relaxed look at life as it drifts by. Immersing yourself in centuries of history is one way to occupy yourself in the Irish capital, however, if you don’t take your time to meet the people, introduce yourself, and listen to their stories, you could find yourself missing out on the real Dublin. And that would be a shame.
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