I’ve flown to Dublin, from London twice now. Both times were, in part, to see a musical. First it was Les Miserables, then in 2013 to see Wicked.
As a confirmed theatre-addict I’ve been known to travel all over the country in search of the smell of grease paint. Of course, being in St Albans we are very lucky to live so close to London. The undisputed capital of theatre is on our doorstep and so we enjoy a continuous stream of world class productions.
But here in St Albans we are also lucky for being able to travel easily to all parts of the country (nay world) with excellent transport links in the form of nearby motorways, railways and airports.
So when London doesn’t cut, it or we fancy a change of scene, we can easily hop on a train or a plane and head off elsewhere… like Edinburgh, Dublin, New York!
Dublin has always been one of my personal favourites as a destination for a short break away. I was there in my teens, when we slept rough or camped (I remember one night in a cow-infested field just to the north of Dublin very well indeed). I returned later with my girlfriend to see Les Miserables at the Point (now the 3arena) and in 2013 year I returned again with my family to stay with friends an see the musical Wicked.
Apart from the first visit when we drove there and back in a beaten up old Renault 5 with a windsurf on the roof, we have always flown. Flights to Ireland are plentiful from southern England. The cheap airlines do it, but if you are not willing to fly like pigs then you can take advantage of the many national airlines that offer the route – we used www.airfrance.co.uk last time we went and we have used them for flights from the UK to all over the world.
Apart from the shared language, Dublin (and Dubliners) are extremely hospitable. The city is relatively small, so it can be explored comfortably over a long weekend, but to get to know the place properly you will have to come back.
This wasn’t going to be a listicle, but maybe the best way to demonstrate why I think Dublin should be high on your list of short break destinatiuons is to give you my personal top things that I like doing when in Dublin. Actually there a good 20 plus permanant attractions (museums, buildings, parks etc) that will make the trip worth while, so when I list only a few you know that these are properly worth the trip!
Do something Joyce-ish! Whether it is a walk, visit the James Joyce Centre or head down to Sandycove and visit the Martello tower where Ulysses starts.
Trinity College features an outstanding collection but the big ticket draw is The Book of Kells, one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts ever created. At the other end of the spectrum Trinity also houses the Science Gallery where you can have your say on current scientific thinking!
Obviously there is the Guniess Brewery, but I like the Jamesons Distilery best although there is probably no need to go back to do either everytime you come to Dublin.
Do a Temple Bar pub crawl. OK it is a little touristy but great fun none the less. Expect crowds, music and the odd pint of the black stuff… it really does taste different here in Dublin!
The National Museum of Ireland will give you an insight into the islands rich and spectacular (and dramatic) past. A great place to come to get a feeling for the history of this special place.
Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol is currently undergoing refurbishment, but should be open again in full in 2016. It is a fascinating place, made famous, of course, by its inmates: Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol roll call includes Robert Emmet, Charles Stewart Parnell and Eamon de Valera. To visitors these days it provides a fascinating insight into just what it was like to be incarcerated here at the begining of the 20th century.
St Patrick’s Cathedral – Jonathan Swift was Dean here at the largest Cathedral in Ireland.
But, as I have said before, my treat is to see a show. There are several excellent theatres in Dublin – the stand-outs for me are: The Abbey Theatre (which presents a strong Irish repertoire), the Gaiety Theatre (a beautiful Victorian theatre) and the Bord Gais Energy Theatre where many of the big, touring shows, come into town – Breakfast at Tiffany’s Billy Elliot, Annie, Guys and Dollls and The Commitments are just a few of the shows for 2016.
Lastly there are two places I always try to eat at:
The Winding Stair is a small eatery above a bookshop where all ingredients are locally sourced and organic.
Bewleys Grafton Street has kept me going through many a tricky (hung-over) day in Dublin. The bad news is that is currently closed for refurbishment but plans to reopen again later this year (2016). It is going to be smaller and it is going to offer a different menu, so we are all rather holding our breath on this one, but hopefully it will return to its glory days and again be worthy of a place on everyone’s Bucket List – wherever you are flying from!