The Irish are easy to love. Despite a history of oppression, repression, famine, recession an average of 151 days of rain in Dublin, the people are optimistic, natural born storytellers. It is down right difficult to be a stranger for long—simply walk into a pub and order a pint. Wit and warmth are free gifts from most Dubliners. A charming accent coupled with intentionally mixed up pronunciation that softens the blow of the most vulgar American curse to ‘fek’ instantly turns frowns upside down. This is city of people that know how to grief sincerely, love generously, and share just about all they have with the rest of the world. A playground for highly educated city folk who want to have fun, the gorgeous Georgian architecture, farm-to-fork flourishing foodie culture, 5000 year old Celtic history, and within a stone’s throw mountains and cliff walks, make Dublin a worthy of exploring world class city.
A forty-minute commuter train from Dublin center takes visitors to the Irish fishing village of Howth. Stroll and hike the spectacular verdant green trails to glimpse the 1667 Baily Lighthouse, breathe the salty air, and experience the rush of lush, sweeping land and seascapes. It is quiet here. Even with tourists, this Dublin escape is serene. Bring a blanket and a picnic basket. This is a place where you take your time to wonder and listen to the seagulls squawking and the wind whistling.
Trinity College, Dublin
1592 monastic beginnings, notable alumni include Jonathan Swift, Thomas Moore, Samuel Becket, and Bram Stoker, a library with over five million books, one illuminated national treasure, and a tradition of offering the highest ranking scholars the right during exams to request a pint of Guiness or a glass of brandy, earn Trinity College world prestige.
On campus, visit the Sfera con Sfera, a bronze sculpture reflecting everything around it, and Arr… Pomodoro’s vision of the relationship between Earth and Christianity, imperfection and perfection, hope and despair.
The heart of Trinity College is the 18th-century Old Library with its Long Room of 200,000 books shelved on oak bookcases, each end column featuring a marble bust of a famous philosopher…writer sculpted by Peter Schemakers during the mid-1700s. The emblem of Ireland, the harp, is modeled after the 15th-century Gaelic, wire strung wooden harp that has been on display in the library since 1792 and now graces Euro coins and beer bottles.
The most compelling reason to visit Trinity College’s library, however, is for the extraordinary illuminated manuscript known as The Book of Kells.
The most compelling reason to visit Trinity College’s library, however, is for the extraordinary illuminated manuscript known as The Book of Kells. The book’s extraordinary Celtic and Christian iconography and unique designs are firmly rooted in Irish identity and share the four gospels and the life of Jesus Christ. Thought to have been created around 800 A.D. by Christian monks on the isle of Iona in Scotland, “it is named for the monastery at Kells, County Meath, where the monks took refuge after a Viking raid and which became the manuscript’s home for centuries.”
Weston Table's Celtic Shore Collection
There are no strangers here; only FRIENDS YOU HAVEN’T met YET.—W.B. YEATS
When in Dublin do as Dubliners do—go to Glencullen on the top of the picturesque Dublin Mountains for a quirky experience that includes a ‘famine pot’—an original giant cast iron kettle from which soup was ladled to feed the starving Irish during the Great Hunger of 1847. A Jonnie Fox’s hooley is the perfect intersection of storytelling, Celtic music, and traditional folk dancing.
The problem with some people is that when they aren't drunk, they're sober.
W. B. Yeats
A Dublin institution immortalized in James Joyce’s Ulysses, The Forty Foot is a year round nippy Irish Sea bathing pool on the southern tip of Dublin Bay. For more than 250 years, city swimmers, men only, mostly nude, until twenty years ago, have braved the nippy waters at Sandy Cove that divide Ireland from Great Britain, taken the plunge and come out with little more to say than, “that was feckin’ freezing!” Voted by the New York Times as one of the best swimming spots in the world, it is also one of the most beautiful spots to linger and watch the natives dive the cliffs, even at low tide, and in spite of the shocking cold, come up all Irish smiles.
Glendalough & Wicklow mountains
Wander an hour outside Dublin’s Georgian architecture, brightly painted brownstone doors, college student filled city streets, and find the other worldly landscapes of Game of Thrones, Princess Bride, and King Arthur.
May the road rise up to meet you.
May the wind always be at your back.
May the sun shine warm upon your face,
and rains fall soft upon your fields.
And until we meet again,
May God hold you in the palm of His hand.
An Old Irish Blessing
A 6th century monastic settlement founded by a descendent of the royal house of Leinster, the Gaelic kingdom that ruled Ireland from 632 to 1632. St. Kevin rejected his noble privilege to become a hermit and live in this lush green valley between two lakes carved out by glaciers during the Ice Age. These are serene grounds and the subject of centuries old Irish folklore and Nobel prize winning poet Seamus Heaney’s St Kevin and the Blackbird (attach video of Seamus Heaney reading poem). In it, Kevin holds out his hand with trance-like stillness while a blackbird builds a nest in it, lays eggs, the eggs hatch, and the chicks fledge. Exploring these hollowed grounds of ancient ruins and Celtic tombstones tests the fine line between reality and imagination.
Mount Usher Gardens
In the shadows of the magnificent formal gardens of Powerscourt, Mount Usher Gardens are a local treasure of romantic flowers, shrubs, and trees informally arranged along the River Vartry. Designed in the Robinsonian style, William Robinson’s informal, simple and honest approach to ordinary gardening that inspired the English cottage garden style, this densely planted, no bare soil arboretum with flowers and shrubs that merge into the river’s bank and rise from sides of hills is a nature lover’s playground. Pack a picnic leaving space for a punnet of sweet, juicy Wexford strawberries sold along side the road in late summer and early autumn.
Eat & Drink
A cosmopolitan food scene, Dublin has reinvented Irish food and cemented a world class culinary reputation. Perhaps the best of all of the new Irish cooking is that belonging to talented Irish chefs with back-to-basics mentalities focusing menu choices around locally sourced seasonal ingredients. Creative plates with chefs that mingle with guests create a grab a fork and dig in foodie dining out experience that won’t break the bank.
Fade Street Social
Sophie’s Restaurant & Bar
Laughter is brightest where food is best.
the land of saints and scholars
In the land of saints and scholars, a mighty tome of entertainment spotlights the rich cultural traditions,
educational excellence, and a 10,000 year old history filled with religion, war, strife, folklore, fairies, and fiddle music, Nobel prizes, Oscars, and Grammys. Founded by the Vikings in 980 and and then while much of Europe plunged into the Dark ages, Christianity provided a beacon of light with literate priests moving to the island sanctuary and continuing to build their bank of knowledge by reading and copying by hand the bible and other ancient texts. Dublin was and remains the Emerald Isle’s center of intellectual and artistic activity.
The Magdalene Sisters
Circle of Friends
My Left Foot
The Dubliners by James Joyce
The Sea by John Banville
The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde
IRELAND CHAUFFEUR TRAVEL
For a personal and tailored experience, consider a private driver. Comfortable Land Rover transport with an expert local driver maneuvering the tiny one lane and opposite side of the road driving make for a far more relaxing countryside tour experience.
An Irish family-run tour company specializing in tailor-made, luxury, private guided tours combines 20 years of professional expertise and knowledge with personal passion for Ireland and experiential travel to create customized luxury tours that allow our clients access to an Ireland that few people have the opportunity to explore.
Shane Leahy, Managing Director, is a professional Tour Operator with a Degree in Hotel Management from The University of Birmingham followed by a Masters Degree in International Tourism and Economics from The University of Limerick.