Dublin, Fair City

Dublin, Fair City

'Dublin honest town were the women are thus pretty!' That's how the line of the famous song Molly Malone describes this famous jewel in the Emerald Isle. Dublin is a passionate city inhabited by a fiercely proud people who like nothing better than to laugh and have a good time. Laughter and song are the trademarks of the Irish people and it's almost impossible not to have a good time in this wonderful fair city. Many a great night is spent in one of the many pubs and restaurants that are scattered freely along the cobbled streets of Dublin, listening to traditional Irish music whilst supping the black gold of the river Liffey, Guinness.

This fabulous city has so much to offer the tourist that it's hard to know where to start. Do we start at with the famous Guinness factory or the Trinity College, maybe The natural history museum or Grafton Street and its wonderful shops?

Dublin, Fair City

No, let's start at the birthplace of Irish independence, "The General Post Office" on O'Connell Street, opposite the giant stainless steel tower in the center of the street. The General Post Office with its huge columns still pit marked by the bullets that tried to quell the free spirit of the Irish people, this is where the Irish freedom movement hoisted the Irish Republic flag during the Easter rising of 1916 and announced the birth of the Irish Republic; it was their sacrifice that was to lead in 1921 to the birth of modern EIRE.

Cutting across O'Connell Street is the new tram service that now allows Dublin a new modern equivalent to an old-style transport much loved by the populations of many cities in the last century. On the western side of O'Connell Street are many small streets leading over to the Connolly station and the docks beyond. Look out for Joyce's statue, one of the many little statues that seem to pop up all over Dublin. On the Eastern side is the many new shopping developments running along St Henry Street. Here you can shop until you drop without leaving this one street alone.

At the bottom of O'Connell Street is O'Connell Bridge that takes the traveler across the famous River Liffey, Its this River that attracted the Viking settlers over one thousand years ago who established a trading settlement on its banks. Take a moment to glance seawards towards the Custom House or east towards the famous Gratton Bridge, whose elegant metal structure gracefully spans the famous black waters of the Liffey. Running parallel to the Liffey on its southern side is Temple Bar. Along this cobbled road, you will find many delightful restaurants and bars, filled with gayety and music from the entertainers and revelers that grace the area at night. See the Bad Ass Caf?, this is where the singer Sinead O' Connor, started out as a waitress, before embarking on her singing career.

From O'Connell bridge heading south, you quickly pass the grand building of the Irish bank on your right and the gracious building of Trinity College on your Left. Continue down towards the head of Grafton Street, passing the beautiful statue of Molly Malone pushing her barrow, always a favorite place for that photo standing next to this famous icon.

Just before you enter Grafton Street move left and wonder into my favorite store AVOCA, it is a shoppers haven on three stories, the basement has a wonderful selection of local foods, freshly baked bread and cakes, a great deli, and many cooking desires and gadgets. On the next level up, there is a wonderful array of knitwear, clothing, and gifts for the home; you will always find a gift here, also stocking Cath Kidson gifts and very comfortable Cath Kidson pajamas!!! Browse and be tempted by the desirable costume jewelry.

On level 2-3 is a landing with yet more gifts, then we move on up to the upper level from the landing and become spellbound by traditional children's toys that take us back to yesteryear. This level is totally devoted to children's wear, toys, and gifts, all carefully selected, and concentrating on traditional storybooks and wooden toys. Just above here we have a superb caf? come restaurant serving anything from a quick cup of fresh coffee to a three-course meal, give their home-made soups, and the carrot cake served garnished with strawberries and cream a try, always welcome on a cold day! When you leave this indulgent store, turn left crossing over into the main shopping street in Dublin.

You are now on Grafton Street with its fabulous shops. Take time to browse and shop with a few moments spent in Bewleys with a nice coffee. Although owned by another company the building will never lose this famous name. It's rooms traditionally named with references to the literary geniuses, and decorative memorabilia. Don't miss a visit to the Brown Thomas store, starting up on the upper levels the designer wear collections, with everything desired for yourself and your home, it also has an amazing beauty department, with every cosmetic giant housed in here, and a great M.A.C. cosmetics bar and make -up service, with really helpful staff. At the end of Grafton Street, is St Stephens Green Park.

Turn left along St Stephens Green and on your left-hand side, you will find the heart of Irish government. On the roads on your left are the seats of Government, the National Library building and the Irish History museums, housing enough culture to last several lifetimes.

The Natural History Museum, situated in Merrion Street and flanking the Irish Houses Of Parliament, is a huge wooden floored building, containing large glass cases in which it exhibits are displayed. It has changed very little since 1857 when Dr. Livingstone gave a lecture on his African Discoveries. You cannot miss the 20-meter long fin whale suspended from the ceiling, take in all the skeletal remains of species from land and sea.

For those who like a tipple, or if tired from walking around the streets, a visit to the Guinness Factory, where the history and production of this famous drink is brilliantly portrayed, also the modern way it delivers the Guinness story along with the famous adverts, and past memorabilia on display, is a great way to spend an afternoon, finishing with a complimentary pint of Guinness whilst viewing a 360 degree amazing view of the whole of Dublin city. This location is best spent as the sun goes down over Dublin and the lights of Dublin cast a new vision of the city across the horizon.

There is also Jameson's whiskey tour and museum, which is well worth a visit, showing the famous Irish whiskey distillery, and its history. How to top such a fabulous day!! Why not dance the night away in one of the many nightclubs around Temple Bar or spend a couple of hours singing your heart out in one of the many traditional Irish pubs. For those of you who have shopped until you have dropped, or have worn your poor soles from your shoes, try relaxing over a meal and a glass of wine in one of the many superb Irish restaurants. A stroll back across the River Liffey to your hotel will compete for the perfect ending to the perfect day.

On retiring for the night, drift off to sleep knowing that tomorrow you will be greeted by a traditional Irish breakfast and a jolly waiter or waitress wishing a "Top of the morning to you"!!
How to get there. Dublin Airport is only just outside the city and is served by a regular bus service that will take you directly into the city center. Tickets can be purchased on the plane, at ticket machines at the airport or across the counters. The port of Dublin provides direct ferry links to Holyhead and Fishguard in Wales as well as Liverpool in England.

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