Dublin, Ireland travel guide and things to do: Nine highlights


Previously frequented by the Queen, Bill Clinton and Kylie Minogue, the seventh-floor Gravity Bar crowns the Guinness Storehouse, which immerses you in the story of the fabled "Black Stuff" - first brewed here in the late-18th century. The admission fee (from €22 or $35) includes an expertly-poured pint with 360-degree Dublin views at a newly-revamped bar that's now double the size. Its original circular shape - designed to resemble the head of a pint - has morphed into a figure-of-eight, with floor-to-ceiling glass panels etched with highlights of Dublin's skyline and surrounds. Look south to the Wicklow Mountains, a hiker's favourite where Guinness gleans its fresh water for brewing.

See guinness-storehouse.com


xxDublin Dublin One & Only ; text by Steve McKenna
(handout image supplied via journalist use in Traveller, no syndication) 
cr: Tourism IrelandTrinity College

Photo: Tourism Ireland

Applications for Trinity College Dublin have soared since this elite university's appearance in Normal People, a 2020 TV adaptation of a novel by Sally Rooney, who studied here - like fellow Irish writers Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and Bram Stoker. It's free to potter around the graceful college grounds, but you'll need a ticket (€18 for adults) to see the famous Book of Kells, a 9th-century monk-crafted manuscript at the majestic Old Library. In the northern summer, you can stay on campus, with rooms from €61.

See tcd.ie/visitors


xxDublin Dublin One & Only ; text by Steve McKenna
(handout image supplied via journalist use in Traveller, no syndication) 
cr: Tourism Ireland
The Shelbourne Hotel

Overlooking leafy St Stephen's Green, the five-star Shelbourne Hotel is a Dublin institution. Opened in 1824, and renovated as part of the Marriott's Autograph Collection, it has 265 elegantly-furnished rooms and suites, plus chandelier-adorned spaces for afternoon tea, cocktails and fine-dining. There's a spa, too, and private events areas include the opulent room where Michael Collins and his fellow republicans drafted Ireland's first constitution in 1922. Six years earlier, the Shelbourne had been occupied by British troops during the Easter Rising, an armed rebellion against British rule in Ireland.

See theshelbourne.com


A few doors down, the Little Museum of Dublin grants an endearingly quirky potted history of the Irish capital, from its Viking roots and civil wars to its "Celtic Tiger" boom years and the pandemic era. Guides in period attire lead you through this converted Georgian townhouse with humour-tinged stories (and songs) about Dublin and Dubliners. Post-tour, linger over the antiques, photographs and exhibitions in more detail, including a soundtrack-assisted, memorabilia-filled room dedicated to U2, a band formed in Dublin in 1976.

See littlemuseum.ie



Hop across St Stephen's Green to the sleek new Museum of Literature Ireland (MOLI). As well as artefacts and digital displays about Irish authors past and contemporary - in 2022 there's a revealing James Joyce exhibition to mark the centenary of Ulysses' publication - MOLI has a nice cafe with good flat whites and a flower-and-birdsong-blessed courtyard that links to tranquil Iveagh Gardens, a secluded park with picnic-friendly lawns, tree-lined paths and water features.

See moli.ie


In Ulysses, protagonist Leopold Bloom mused: "Good puzzle would be cross Dublin without passing a pub." It's still a conundrum, with about 750 pubs sprinkling the city. Start your crawl at the Stag's Head, a delightfully-preserved Victorian-era watering hole with mahogany-panelling, mirrors and snugs, and traditional Irish craic, food, drink and live music. This was a stomping ground for a young Joyce and is among the venues celebrating Bloomsday, an annual Joycean-themed carnival on June 16 - the day, in 1904, that Ulysses is set.

See stagshead.ie and visitdublin.com


To be sure, it's touristy - and of a weekend evening, and particularly on St Patrick's Day (March 17), expect crowds stumbling, slurring and even shadow-boxing - but the cobbled, boozer-jammed Temple Bar district is worth braving. You'll find cultural venues, street art, caffeine dens, good restaurants (like Cleaver East by Michelin-rated Irish chef Oliver Dunne) and pop-up events, festivals and markets. On Saturdays, Temple Bar's stalls sell baked goodies and organic Irish farm produce, designer fashions and jewellery, art and second-hand books.

See cleavereast.ie and templebarmarkets.com


Driving the 21st-century revival of Irish whiskey is the new wave of distilleries in the Liberties district, which spreads out from the mammoth Guinness brewery site. Teeling and Roe & Co are highly recommended, but the most eye-catching newcomer is Pearse Lyons, a family-owned distillery that makes whiskey in a beautiful converted church. Individual distilleries offer tasting experiences, but a great way to sample (and compare) the varieties is on a private tour with a designated driver and charming Irish whiskey expert, John Callely.

See pearselyonsdistillery.com and whiskeyisland.ie/dublin-distillery-trail


Passions run high at Croke Park, the hub of Irish sporting life for over 100 years. This 82,000-capacity stadium has hosted national rugby and soccer matches - plus concerts by Irish darlings U2 and Westlife - but Gaelic games are its forte: hurling (which has similarities to lacrosse) and the AFL-like Gaelic football. Things come to a head at the All-Ireland Championship finals (in 2022, July 17 and July 24). On non-matchdays, the stadium offers museum visits and tours up to the arena's rooftop walkway for super Dublin vistas.

See crokepark.ie


It's estimated that almost a third of Australians have Irish roots. Even if you don't, the award-winning Irish Emigration Museum is an engrossing draw on the north bank of the River Liffey. State-of-the-art exhibits delve into the Irish diaspora and the legendary - and unsung - characters to emerge from the Emerald Isle.

See epicchq.com

Steve McKenna was a guest of Tourism Ireland, see ireland.com