Over the past couple of weeks I’ve had several friends heading out on their vacations to some of my favorite places and they were asking me for some advice. It has been so much fun taking a look back and reminiscing about my adventures, in particular my recent times in Dublin. I’ve created a perfect itinerary of my personal can’t miss sights and sounds if I only had one day to go back.
1. Trinity College & The Book of Kells
Everyone will tell you this is a must see if you are in Ireland and passing through Dublin. The book of Kells is from 800 AD which is hard to even comprehend how old this is. When you visit there is a “Turning darkness into light” exhibit introducing how the Book of Kells was made and the history surrounding the manuscript and the time period. The intricate and delicate designs on the book are something to behold but for me what was more intriguing was the Long Room in the Trinity College Library. Keeper of thousands of rare collections, many early printed materials, the library is packed to the gills with some of the oldest, unique collections in existence and for a book worm like me, it’s a magical sight.
Sfera Con Sfera Contest
There is an iconic sculpture is adjacent to the library and if there is a line to get (as there usually seems to be) you will have time to admire it before going in for a tour of the Kells. It’s a mesmerizing bronze orb. I walked around the sphere a few times and couldn’t help but feel like I had seen it before but couldn’t remember where or why it would be familiar and quickly forgot about the sculpture.
Later the same year when visiting DC I toured the Hirshhorn Museum and as I was walking through the gardens I noticed out of the corner of my eye that the sun bounced a ray off something metallic. I ventured closer through the little maze of shrubs only to come upon a similar sight, the Irish Sfera Con Sfera’s little twin. Ok Arnaldo (Pomodoro, the sculpture) you’ve peaked my interest. After a quick dive into Google I found that there aren’t just two, but thirteen Sfera Con Sfera sculptures.
Oh and remember how I had the feeling of deja vu at the Trinity College sculpture? It turns out I’ve seen this piece before twice, a sphere in Rome and another in the courtyard of the Vatican. Now I’ve made this a little global “where’s waldo”, adding it my travel lists of things to see in the rest of the sphere’s locations.
2. Irish Pastries… yea I know what you are thinking.
Aside from scones or soda bread I usually don’t think of the Irish as being connoisseurs of sweet treats but Hansel and Gretel will have you thinking otherwise. This Patisserie will make anyone feel Parisian and it’s location is right near St. Stephen’s Green and Merrian Square Park. So after you’ve taken in all that is bookworm wonderment at Trinity you can grab a pastry and people watch on the lawn, which is the makings for a perfect weekend afternoon.
3. Hugh Lane Gallery & the Dublin Writer’s Museum
Head up O’Connell Street and take a peak at the overpriced Spire in the main square, then walk a little further up the road and check out two of my favorite museums in Dublin. The Hugh Gallery is FREE and on it’s walls is a wonderful collection of modern and contemporary art. There is a cute little cafe here for coffee and a snack. Two doors down you can find out more about the literary giants who emerged from the country throughout the years.
4. Pretend to be a Local Among Tourists
Grab a seat at the bar at the oldest pub in Ireland, The Brazen Head. With live music each night you are guaranteed to be entertained. I prefer to head over for a pint on Sundays to listen to the afternoon sessions.
5. Get some Good Grub
Boxty. The plain Jane Irish potato gets a facelift and comes to your table in the form of a potato pancake with delicious fillers and sauces. It’s traditionally a peasant style dish served in the Northern midlands but The Boxty House in Dublin has some of the better Boxty I’ve had while on the emerald isle. The restaurant is located right in the Temple Bar area so if you’re up for having a few more pints, you’ve come to the right location.
6. Find Religion… in a Glass
I don’t think a trip to Ireland is complete without a pint of Guinness at some point and if you are in Dublin, the time is now. The Guinness Storehouse is located in the city and offers a comprehensive tour about the history of the factory and how that delicious drink is made. The top of the Storehouse offers a great view of the city with a reward at the end. You can always also hit up the Jameson factory if beer doesn’t seem to quest your thirst.
7. Now REALLY Find Religion
Churches are abundant in town but the two main places of worship to check out while you are in town is Christ Church and St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Atone for the sins from last night at Temple Bar at one of these co-cathedrals.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. It was founded in 1191 and the your eyes fall to the intricate mosaic floors and then roll up to the astounding archways and impressive ceilings adorned with interesting flags and family crests.
Christ Church is the older of the two medieval cathedrals, founded in 1058. Be sure to marvel at the architecture above but don’t forget to explore the crypt below. While there look for the “Cat & the Rat”, a story of a mummified duo found in the church’s old organ.