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Dublin: Through the Eyes of a Local

JANUARY 15, 2014 by Kris Hrsing

Dublin is a city that has retained the mentality of a village where locals are
generally very friendly, open and willing to engage with anyone they
meet. Dubliners are great storytellers who love self-deprecating humour and
pulling the leg of the person they are speaking with. While its a capital city
with all the associated trappings, the city centre is compact and easy to
navigate. We asked Aoife, a Dublin local to share some insider tips and
advice.

Where can one get the best view of your city?


Dublin is a low-rise city and its relatively flat so there arent many great
vantage points. One suggestion is Gravity Bar in the Guinness Storehouse
but the view isnt free and Guinness isnt for everyone. A personal favourite
is to walk to the end of Dun Laoghaire Pier (a south Dublin suburb thats
easily accessible by both train and bus) and look back across Dublin Bay
towards the city. If youre feeling a bit more energetic, go to the north Dublin
suburb of Howth and take the coastal cliff walk (its fairly easy but has some
uneven ground) for stunning views over the city and Dublin Bay. Howth is
also easily accessible by train and bus. Both suburbs have charming village
centres, and Howth is a particularly good place to visit if you like seafood.

What areas should be avoided in terms of tourist traps?


Temple Bar, Temple Bar and Temple Bar. Id avoid it at all costs as the food
and drinks are overpriced and largely of a poorer quality than youll find
elsewhere in the city. Plus, very few locals will venture there for a night out
as its over-hyped and full of tourists, especially at night. During the day
Temple Bar offers some worthy cultural pursuits such as the Photographic
Archive, the Irish Film Institute, the weekend food market and book markets
to name but a few, but once the sun goes down its time to get out of there.

Photo credit: Kevin Gibbons

What should I take home as a souvenir?


Ireland has a tradition of nurturing its artists and craftspeople so there are
many shops selling unique handmade items. Theres a craft market in Cows
Lane every Saturday, and a few shops located nearby selling items from the
market and more during the week.

Where do the locals head on a sunny day?


When the elusive (usually watery) sunshine does make an appearance, St
Stephens Green fills with workers making the most of their lunch breaks.
Phoenix Park is another very popular spot to spend a sunny day. Here you
can walk for miles, hire a bike, watch wild deer, visit the zoo and much more.
Dublin has a few beaches but they tend to be windblown blustery affairs not
for the faint-hearted. Closest to the city theres Bull Island and Sandymount

Strand, and further afield in north Dublin youll find a good beach at
Portmarnock.

Whats the top event of the year for locals?


In recent years the local authorities have been holding events marking the
New Year. Theres a big concert (cheap tickets are usually available from
November right up to the event) and other family friendly events such as a
parade of lights.
Of course Ireland is famous for St. Patricks Day (March 17th) when a colourful
parade snakes through the city. Festivalgoers usually end up at one of the
many pubs, so the city centre isnt necessarily the nicest place to be once
the sun has gone down (especially if youre travelling with young children).
Dublin also hosts the All Ireland Finals of both Gaelic Football and Hurling.
Hurling in particular is quite a spectacle to behold. The fun starts with the
semi-finals in August and the finals (on consecutive weekends for each sport)
in September. Dublin fills with fans from the competing teams and if the
Dublin team is lucky enough to be competing, the city will almost come to a
standstill at match time.

What places would you recommend outside of Dublin?


Ireland is small so its very easy to go on a day trip from Dublin to virtually
any part of the country. Other cities include Cork, Waterford, Limerick and
Galway each offers something a little bit different and is easily reached by
train or bus. Much of Ireland is rural and can be explored by car, or if youre
more energetic, by bicycle. The weather is notoriously fickle so check the
forecast before committing to too many outdoor pursuits.

Photo credit: Phalinn Ooi

What foods are loved by locals in your country?


The pay off for all the rain is the green grass, which means we have great
dairy products and exceptional quality local meat. Were an island
surrounded by rich fisheries so our seafood is unbeatable, especially if you
find a restaurant where the chef knows how to treat it properly. There are
exceptions but in general we arent great with providing information (menus,
explanations in museums etc.) in foreign languages. All our official signs are
written in English and Gaelic although few people speak Gaelic fluently.

What are Irish people like?


We are a friendly and resourceful bunch who will always find common ground
with you no matter your country of origin. Know that we arent British or
English even though English is the first language of the vast majority of the
population and spoken by everybody. There are no leprechauns and we dont

generally say Top of the morning to you! unless you ask very nicely. Dont
be shy about approaching locals to ask for help or just to start up a
conversation. If youre standing at a street corner puzzling over a map, dont
be surprised if someone offers to help you find your way.

What places would you recommend to a culturebuff?


The National Print Museum is a gem and The National Gallery is worth a visit
they also run a good programme of events for children. The Science
Gallery has ever changing but always interesting (and sometimes hands on)
exhibitions. Smock Alley Theatre is an interesting venue with a good
programme of events covering all age groups.

architecture or history lover?


The National Museum has two locations in Dublin and both are worth a visit
Collins Barracks for Decorative Arts and History, and Kildare Street for
Archaeology. The Irish Architectural Archive is currently open only to
researchers but it is hoped to re-open to visitors in the future.
Dublin has retained its Georgian core and has many fine buildings Merrion
Square is a fine example of this style of architecture. The Casino in
Marino(dont be fooled, its not for gambling) is well worth a visit to see the
optical illusions and clever use of perspective.

foodie?
Dublin has a few Michelin starred restaurants. Boasting two stars, the
restaurant Patrick Gilbaud will require the entire contents of your
wallet. Chapter One requires booking in advance look out for their excellent
value pre-theatre menu. LEcrivain similarly requires advance booking.
Not Michelin starred but very well worth a visit are The Winding Stairs, Locks
Brasserie and its sister Pearl Brasserie. Youll get some of the best seafood in
Dublin at Matt the Thresher. The charming and unique La Peniche and Fade
Street Social are also worth checking out.

Photo credit: psyberartist

a budget traveller?
There are lots of cheap eats in Dublin with most restaurants offering good
value lunch menus and an early bird menu to diners from 57 pm or so.
Cheaper again are the likes of Pitt Bros, CrackBird or Yumi Falafel on Dame
Street (no website, its almost opposite CrackBird).
In terms of culture, Dublin has a good programme of events running
throughout the year many are free but some require advance booking so
check an online event guide once you know your travel dates. The National
Museum, The National Gallery and the Natural History Museum are all free to
enter. There are various walking tours that are either inexpensive or
completely free topics covered include history, literature and food. You can
even join a pub walking tour!
Nightlife largely centres on the pub scene and while theres no entrance
charge, drinking in Dublin, especially at Temple Bar, is not a cheap hobby.

families with children?


The Viking splash tour will keep most kids entertained, but it isnt cheap. As
mentioned, the National Gallery has free events, and Dublins annual cultural
programme also has many family friendly events.
Feeding the ducks at St. Stephens Green is popular, as is a visit to Dublin
Zoo. Over recent years a lot of hard work has gone into improving the
habitats of its residents. Inquisitive minds can be kept occupied at workshops
run atMake Shop for very little money and sometimes for free.
The idea of offering children smaller portions of regular main courses in
restaurants hasnt really taken off in Dublin yet, although some restaurants
do offer this option. Many still have relatively plain and boring childrens
menu options. Its worth asking the staff if small portions are an option for
children as it varies from place to place. A good bet for dinner with children,
especially younger ones, is the Milano Pizzeria chain which provides crayons
and paper for the kids to doodle on while they wait for their food.