A dark pint of Dublin

It’s a city of song; at every turn, buskers sing their souls into upturned hats. It’s a city of writers and poets. Of bridges over water, and history scribbled all over. It’s a city of men with boyish eyes and thick beards. Of quiet humour and a laidback energy. It’s a city that likes to brunch. Where food comes in hearty portions. Smiles too.

Dublin stands sure in its skin – old and modern and uncomplicated. Its parks very green, its art very edgy. Its buildings are often painted a deep red, a screaming pink, clover green, old-lady-purple.

There’s a certain New-Yorkness to this wee city, especially when you zoom in through the lens of a camera. Parts of it reminded me of Williamsburg in Brooklyn: the red-brown bricks and art-splattered streets, the large loft-like spaces converted into cafes, derelict buildings with funky shops, feet in clean canvas shoes.

With all it’s history hugged tightly to its chest, Dublin seems to have marched headlong into the Now. You could walk into a 12th-century pub for a glass of Guinness and some beef stew, or lunch at a restaurant where modern Irish cooking bends expectations, often blending fresh local ingredients with Middle-Eastern flavours.

And if you’re lucky (as we were), you could be sitting in an old, old pub with your dark, dark pint, when suddenly, a group in the corner takes out their guitars and breaks into unprepared song. Strong and clear. Their acoustics bouncing off the wood-lined walls. And everyone cheers and claps and they sing one more song, and then another. And you leave Dublin humming the city like a well-worn tune.

Β ***

The Nitty Gritties: where we slept and ate and drank, and the places we loved in Dublin.

Where we stayed:
The Dean Hotel. Very retro-chic, complete with vinyls in the room. And a rooftop restaurant and bar that’s hard to beat.

Where we ate and drank:
We tried lots of lovely places, but there were some clear winners. I’ve put them together in one perfect day of eating and drinking.

Morning

The Fumbally. It was one of our favourite places in Dublin; try their fantastic brunch, and enjoy the gorgeously haphazard space!

Noon

O’Donaghue’s. A pint of Guinness at this pub, amidst that impromtu jam of guitar and song, was one of my best afternoons in Dublin, and one that I’ll remember for a long time.

The Pig’s Ear. Modern Irish cooking at it’s best, and a short walk from O’Donaghue’s. The restaurant also sits near the National Gallery of Ireland where we really enjoyed the Sean Scully exhibition.

Evening

Sophie’s at The Dean. That’s the rooftop restaurant I mentioned earlier. Have a cocktail by the wall of glass and look down at the city and the mountains beyond as the sun sets. You can’t do better. The pizzas are great, as is the rest of the food.

Coppinger Row. A Mediterranean restaurant in the hub of Dublin. Our meal here was faultless, fresh and full of flavour, and all whipped out of a busy, open kitchen. (Oh, BeyoncΓ© and Jay Z dined here, if that counts!)


Dublin for kids:

Dublin is very child-friendly. People would bend down to have one-to-one conversations with Chotto-ma as if she were a solo traveller, and we weren’t there at all!

There are great galleries and museums to keep kids interested, to learn a bit about Ireland and the influences of other cultures that passed through this island country. Chotto-ma loved these –
The National Gallery of Ireland
The Chester Beatty Library
National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology

In good weather (which we amazingly had almost everyday of our stay) head to –
St Stephen’s Green is one of the loveliest city parks, with a duck-filled pond, fountains, gazebos and nooks and cranies to explore.

Merrion Square has a wonderful playground themed on The Selfish Giant. Chotto-ma had finished reading Oscar Wilde’s The Happy Prince and Other Stories just before the holiday, and had loved The Selfish Giant, so she especially enjoyed this park. (It’s also very close to the National Gallery of Ireland).

***

(None of the places mentioned above have sponsored this post. They’re just mentions of things we enjoyed, so others might enjoy them too. I don’t do reviews on the blog.)

10 thoughts on “A dark pint of Dublin

  1. Pia, this is the only place I couldn't visit while I was in UK. Thanks for taking me there today! πŸ™‚

    I saw this post first on mobile and then realised, this deserves a bigger screen πŸ™‚ I love the way you have captured the every day things and activities around the town. That is the traveler's delight, isn't it? To go some place new and experience everything like a local more than a tourist.

    BTW, such gorgeous men! πŸ˜‰

  2. Absolutely, Meera – it's in the local, daily life that the beauty of travel lies πŸ™‚
    You'll love the warmth in Ireland…it more than makes up for the weather (even though we had gloriously blue skies)! I'm glad I took you there for a while πŸ™‚
    xx

  3. I've read stories set in Dublin and stories by writers from Dublin. I've always wanted to go there some time. You took me there today! πŸ™‚

    I love the look and sound of Dublin. πŸ™‚ Some day…

  4. The hotel was very cool, Emma – you'd love it, especially for that view from its rooftop restaurant/bar.
    What we loved best about Dublin were its people.

  5. Ah, Dublin has literature in its bones, doesn't it? So many of us have grown up reading Irish writers, especially stories set in Dublin πŸ™‚ It was good to put a face to that city. I should've taken my tattered copy of 'Dubliners' for a corny photo moment.
    And yes, some day, I'm sure…

  6. This is such a lovely post. Been reading you for a while. Your posts have such an old world charm to them. Your posts somehow remind me of the smell of old books. I know it sounds weird but old books is one of the things I love, so do take this as a compliment.

    Anu

  7. Such a lovely thing to say – thank you, Anu. The smell of old books is a favourite for me too. It can be nothing but a compliment.
    I love that you decided to write in xx

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