Dublin is an interesting and very manageable city. In January the weather is cold but not brutal. Many of the places that you may want to visit are located quite close to each other. Depending on where you decide to stay, we prefer the Ballsbridge area, you can walk just about everywhere. We choose this area not so much because it is convenient but because it has our favorite townhouse hotel. Cabs are readily available and inexpensive so if like me, walking has to be limited, it is easy to get around.
Our first morning in the city we decided to visit the National Museum of Ireland. Our friend opted to go the National Gallery. We grabbed a cab and he dropped us off, as it turned out, at the wrong museum but luckily for us, we had a city map and a pretty good idea where the museum we wanted was. I should have spoken up because I was quite sure I knew where the museum I wanted was but at any rate it was an interesting walk. What is annoying is that the museums are almost back to back but the road between them is blocked since there are government buildings all around.
On the way we poked in a couple of shops, took, some pictures, our walk took us by the corner of St. Stephen’s Green, scoped out the Shelbourne Hotel, which by the way serves afternoon tea and finally arrived at the museum we wanted.
This particular part of the nation museum houses the archeology section. Among the treasures there are illuminated documents, the Brooch of Tara and lots of interesting historically significant items. We enjoyed about an hour and a half and frankly if we had not planned to meet for a quick bite to eat at the National Gallery, we could have spent more time. They have a nice gift shop but nothing peeked my interest so we hit the road.
Our choice was not to tour the National Gallery because we have done that twice already and frankly art doesn’t change much but we love their restaurant and it is our usual lunch choice. We decided to just have tea and a sweet and a rest and gathered our strength for an afternoon of poking through the shops. If you are an art lover, as our friend is, the National Gallery has an excellent collection.
We walked out the front door of the Gallery and headed left or west on Nassau Street. There are lots of options, small shops selling a wide variety of things but we came across the Kilkenny Shop and fell in love. They sell all items made in Ireland so you are not going to see cheap knock-offs made in China. What a great place and this isn’t about a bunch of items with shamrocks on them either. You can find wonderful pottery, hand-knit scarves and hats, silver jewelry, toiletries, designer items and a whole lot more. All first quality, all made in Ireland. They do have a website too if you want to shop from outside the country.
We continued on Nassau Street and if you have never seen the Book of Kells, Trinity College is across the street and makes a perfect stop. We have already doone this on a previous visit so we continued to walk and went to the Bank of Ireland. While it really is a bank, there is a much deeper history to this building and that is what we wanted to see. The building is what remains of the Irish Parliament Building was built in the early 18th century in a Georgian Palladian style. The Commons Chamber has been lost and it was a pretty close call for the Lords as well but luckily it has survived.
There was a guard in the room and we engaged in a lengthy conversation with him about not only Irish history but Irish-American relations. He was fascinating and more than willing to engage with us.
All in all, we felt as if we had used our day well and were more than ready to head back to our hotel for a well-deserved cup of tea with cake and cookies. Keep in mind that we are repeat visitors and if you are a first timer, there are things that may be higher on your list of must sees than the choices we made.