Very few places I have traveled have felt like home. I’ve lived in several states in the US, and visited different countries in my limited time here on earth. Needless to say, I am American through and through, apple-pie, red, white and blue. Few places capture my heart and make me feel free, as does Dublin Ireland. I agree with James Joyce who once said, “When I die, Dublin will be written in my heart.”
I lived in Ireland for almost a year and became immersed in the city and it’s culture. My family emigrated from Ireland just before the American Civil War, thus making my own Irish linage rather thin. However, every time I visit Dublin, my very thin Irish ancestral blood boils with anticipation for a long awaited homecoming.
Dublin is a very walk-able city; it’s not a very large. Street signs are mostly easy to find and both in English and Irish (Gaelic). The Irish joke that the street signs are in both languages so that you can get lost in both languages. The city begs for you to stroll its streets just as the poets and philosophers of old.
You can take in the some of the best parts of Dublin by beginning your day at St Stephen’s Green. Easy to get to, it’s one of the main parks in city Centre. The Green is Irelands best-known Victorian public park. Strolling through the park you find many water and flower gardens, sculptures, and unique structures such as the delicately carved Victorian Swiss shelter in the center of the park. The park also has a good children’s playground. On weekends, many artists selling their works often surround the Green.
Exit the parks northwest corner through the Fusiliers’ Arch and cross the street to Grafton Street, one of Dublin’s best shopping districts. You will find many unique shops, tourist traps and restaurants on Grafton Street. If you’re hungry, grab some excellent Italian food at Pasta Fresca on nearby Chatham Street. If you’re looking for a snack, about mid way through your walk on Grafton Street, you will find one of my favorite places to get a cup of tea or coffee and croissant: Bewely’s Café.
At the end of Grafton Street you will find Trinity College. Many folks will visit the historic and beautiful book of Kels and the breath-taking Library, which are fantastic, but walking the grounds of the campus is well worth the time. The hustle and bustle of the city falls away as the peaceful campus invites you to wander and admire the architecture and walk ways. Get away from the crowds and you will see another side of Trinity that many don’t bother to see.
Across the street from Trinity are a couple of great stores worth a look. Stop off at Books Upstairs, and pick up book of poems by Yeats, or a book on philosophy from Thompson (if your into books on anti-capitalism). Books Upstairs is an eclectic store similar to those found near college campuses throughout the world.
Once you cross the river you are on O’Connell Street. O’Connell street claims to be the heart of Dublin’s urban center and is lined with several statues and monuments dedicated to the leaders in the fight for Irish independence. It is worth a walk up and down to admire the architecture, but not much more to be perfectly honest. As a matter of safety, be sure to keep an eye on your purse and wallet. O’Connell Street tends to be a hot bed for petty crime. When you see The Spire hang a left and you are on Henry Street. Henry Street is Dublin’s second most attractive shopping district. In some regards it’s better than Grafton because more locals visit here than tourist; it also has a Butlers Chocolate store!
By the time you reach the end of Henry Street you’ll be hungry and thirsty, take time to stop at The Church, a restaurant in a gorgeous converted church, the former St. Mary’s Church of Ireland. The Church features excellent food in the Gallery Restaurant as well as The Cellar Bar and Nightclub; where you can finish the night off dancing till the morning hours.
This walk takes about one hour if your walk it straight through. I don’t recommend that you power through the walk however. Take your time, absorb the atmosphere in Dublin, and admire its architecture, statues, and most importantly, feel free and independent in a very unique and personal city.
About the Author: Chris is a photographer, traveler, husband, dad and technology junkie. He lives with his wife and three children (AKA travel companions) in the Philadelphia area. Visit his site to learn more about him and his photography.