Hello everyone. My name is Chris. I’m a craic addict. Have been all my adult life. And a bit before, truth be told.
There, I admit it. So, to be cordially invited to Craic Central, was a fix no lust for lifer could refuse. The trip duly delivered, proving an intoxicating cocktail of culture and revelry. Dublin’s fair city – where the girls are indeed so pretty and, moreover, the gulls are pretty raucous – didn’t disappoint in any area.
Dublin Bus Dublin Bus is a capital idea – along with ipad, iphone and android-friendly Discover Dublin Trails Visit Dublin – to tour the beating heart of Leinster’s east coast province. You’ll traverse the city’s famed arterial river across O’Connell Bridge, Europe’s only such structure whose width equals its length.
The hop on, hop off introduction allows the visitor to best enjoy a taste of Ireland’s biggest city. Speaking of which, seamlessly, first stop the Liffey liquid shrine that is The Guinness Storehouse Guinness Storehouse Plant tours include such eye-opening delights as wonder wall fall of water (bottom right), key to the time-honoured secret brewing process. Skyscraping Gravity Bar, affording eagle-eye panoramic vistas for miles around, is one bar with views afar.
Girls and boys from the black stuff serve a pint of free finest stout, perfectly poured at optimum 45 degree angle, for all who make it to such heady heights. Floor below confirms stag and hen parties aplenty can indeed organise a party – other familiar phrases are available – in this particular brewery.
There pint-sized River Dancers held ceilidh centre stage, innocently stepping out to strains of shamrock ‘n’ roll salty sea shanties. That this is a must-see place to visit is as black and white as the heady burnt barley brew itself.
Also well worth a visit are historic inns, thirst choice for such literary giants as Joyce, Behan and Beckett, while Nobel Prize winning poet William Butler Yeats’s 150th birthday is celebrated in suitable style at The National Library (www.nli.ie). And newcomers can raise a glass to Ireland’s oldest pub The Brazen Head, where pumps have been manned since 1198.
The Cobblestone sees – and hears – troubadours’ traditional music off the Temple Bar (www.templebar.ie) beaten track, far from the madding crowd, in an authentic alternative to commercial city centre sites.
Young and old alike join the throng, from the tiny tot with a crop of molten gold atop his nodding head, to the greying grandma boasting a bassoon almost as big as her bosom.
The pub couldn’t be more Dub were famous favourite sons Bono, Geldof, Lynott, indeed folk balladeers The Dubliners themselves, propping the bar alongside locals likely as regular as a bodhran’s beat.
Cultural diversions include Trinity College’s latest world-first tourist space age attraction (www.sciencegallery.com). Europe’s best museum, accordng to Lonely Planet experts, lies in the shadow of Dublin Castle at Chester Beatty Library (www.cbl.ie).
National Museum (www.museum.ie) meanwhile offers all manner of attractions from arts to archaeology to animals.National Gallery of Ireland (www.ngi.ie) is home to thousands of masterpieces and The Little Dublin Museum (www.littlemuseum.ie) promises a big day out amid 5,000-plus artefacts.
St Patrick’s Cathedral (www.stpatrickscathedral.ie) was home to Deans including Gulliver’s Travels scribe Jonathan Swift and hosted Handel’s Messiah debut perormance. Or step back in time a thousand years to Dublinia and Christchurch Cathedral (www.dublinia.ie).
To go directly to jail, with or without 200 Euros, Kilmainham Gaol (www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/kilmainhamgaol) offers a tour of Europe’s largest unoccupied prison, laced with heroism and tragedy in equal measure.
Outskirts offer GAA Museum at Croke Park Stadium (www.skylinecrokepark.ie) as the goal for all sports fans, who can enjoy a 44-metre high overvew of the nation’s beloved hurling and Gaelic football shrine from a spell-binding stadim rooftop walk.
DUBLIN IN AN HOUR DOUBLE QUICK TRIP
Chris Page tells how best to get there as well as where to stay and dine
There truly is something for everyone in this Emerald Isle gem of a city ... so craic on.
It has never been easier, or quicker, to reach Dublin than from Robin Hood Airport - aboard flights direct as the truest Sherwood arrow.
Indeed hour-long Aer-line trips take less time, and are less tortuous, than many a local work commute.
Doncaster Sheffield Airport is the UK’s newest purpose built international airport after the development a decade ago of the old RAF Finningley air base.
The top-flight site has one of the UK’s longest runways with capacity to handle all types of international aviation including charter, scheduled, long haul, freight, general and business aviation.
The airport’s newly announced winter schedule confirms, due to strong Dublin demand already shown on the regional route, five flights will weekly continue to offer trans-Atlantic queue-busting connections to Boston, New York, Chicago and Toronto.
From October 25 to March 26 planes will depart at 10.50am Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays as well as 3pm Sundays, returning 10:25am on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays as well as 2.35 Sundays.
The airport, enjoying easy communication links, offers flights to over 35 destinations. q For further information visit Robin Hood Airport
Aer Lingus Regional operates flights between DSA and Dublin five times weekly with lead-in fares from £24.99 each way including taxes and charges. q For more information on fares and flight times visit Aer Lingus
F&Bulous food: “Slow food, hot spot” is always order of the day at award-winning Fallon & Byrne.
Much more than merely a restaurant – boasting food hall, wine shop and sister site – the eatery quite simply constitutes success on a plate.
“Always intended to be a treat. And it is, just not a wildly expensive one” sums up the mantra at a superior establishment that serves up seasonal savoury and sweet treats aplenty.
“Good stuff from land and sea, cooked with gentle respect for excellent ingredients, served by cheerful sorts in a beautiful space” encapsulates a fine dining experience par excellence.
The on-site food hall sees shelves stocked to the rafters with just-caught fish, fresh fruit and veg as well as well-hung meat alongside taste bud-tempting coffee and cakes.
Fine artisan foods of every kind hold court amid 3,000-plus bottles and jars of delectable products.
Lower depths play host to a fabulous selection of more than 600 wickedly winsome wines.
The sister restaurant and take-away cafe in popular People’s Park, Dun Laoghaire, is also open daily, observing similar superior standards.
Book fast for the slow food experience at this epicurean hot spot.
* Fallon & Byrne Fallon & Byrne 11-17 Exchequer Street, Dublin 2.
Food is on fire
Dining doesn’t come much finer than Fire Restaurant.
The exclusive eatery luxuriates in grandest of settings in what served since 1891 as Lord Mayor’s Supper Room.
A heady mix of styles and symbolism, the current structure was built in 1891 as the Lord Mayor’s Supper Room
Now the modern-day discerning diner can take supper, pre-theatre specials, Sunday roast experience, à la carte or table d’hôte within award-winning decor.
Bronze sculptures guard the entrance to a venue whose grand design is as mixed as its menus with complementing styles and symbolism within stained glass and beneath soaring ceilings.
From Moroccan spiced Slaney Valley Irish lamb skewers to cranberry and orange meringue via thoughtfully sourced superior Irish Hereford prime beef rib, the fare exudes quality and class.
Consistently voted one of the city’s top establishments, it is the ideal location for birthdays or anniversaries as staff pull out all the stops – and corks – for your special occasion.
Boasting accommodating cocktail lounge and wine bar, the restaurant is – in the modern idiom far removed from its 19th century roots – on fire.
* Fire Restaurant mansion House fire Restaurant The Mansion House, Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
Stephen’s Green credentials
O’Callaghan Stephen’s Green Hotel enjoys an enviable location, overlooking nine acres of green lung parkland.
Prime position for any serious shopaholic, merely minutes from Grafton Street’s superior stores, the four-star establishment also affords easy access to work at nearby multinational business headquarters and play at an array of leisure attractions.
An impressive example of contemporary design and Georgian architecture seamlessly blended together in one building, it boasts a striking glass atrium that fills the lobby with natural life-affirming light.
Round-the-clock exclusive fitness suite access offers opportunities to burn off excesses of on-site Pie Dash bistro and Magic Glass bar.
Word of warning for those who venture further afield. Stephens Green is one of four O’Callaghan Hotels Group hotels in the city. As our reviewer found to his cost when seeking directions while wending circuitous way back to the 89-bedroom base. Sister sites in Annapolis and Gibraltar pose less of a problem!
O’Callaghan Stephen’s Green Hotel Stephen’s Green Hotel 5 Harcourt Street, Dublin 2.