Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Ten Things I Love About Dublin - Part Two

Following on from Part One yesterday, here are five other things I love about Dublin! Also, check out Talli's original post on London and Helen Caldwell on Edinburgh. Anyone from Belfast or Cardiff care to complete the set?

6. Dun Laoghaire.
Disclaimer: I work in Dun Laoghaire, so I have to confess its charms are a little diminished for me since I see it every day. But it is still very nice.
Dun Laoghaire is somewhere between a suburb and a town, on the outskirts of Dublin easily accessible by rail and bus. As well as tons of charity shops, some really good restaurants and Reader's Bookshop, it also has two very long piers which are great for walks on dry windy days. When we get them. . . The whole town does close down fairly completely at 6pm and it doesn't feel terribly safe after that, but during daytime it's a great spot for getting out of the city.
PS - it's pronounced Dun Leery. If you want to be a right smartarse, try saying it in Irish - Doon Lair-a. Most Dubliners will roll their eyes a bit at the latter. . .

7. Markets.
I know, so far I've mentioned two shopping centres, a bookshop and way too many other places to spend money. I fail at Buy Nothing Day every year, just in case you hadn't guessed, and here I am with more rampant consumerism.
But not really. I always try to visit markets when I go to a city because they have far more character than glossy streets full of identical chain stores. And Dublin is rich in markets. One of the oldest is Blackrock Market, in the suburb of Blackrock, which is sadly no longer as good as it once was. The excellent Dublin Flea popped in November 2008 and is still going strong, and there is also the Liberty Market (never been myself), Point Village Market, Cow's Lane for designer stuff, the Temple Bar Food and Book markets, the Crafty Market and even a fancy dress market (do not ask, I don't know. . . .). And of course, all the others that I've forgotten. Which is probably about three.
No, I don't know how I ever have any money either.

8. Bookshops!
As a UNESCO City of Literature, it would be a terrible shame if Dublin fell down badly in the bookshop department. Luckily we don't. There is Chapters (not affiliated with the more famous chain), with a huge secondhand section that one of my cousins describes as a real-world Amazon Marketplace. And Hodges Figgis, my personal favourite, and Waterstones across the road, and Dubray Books on Grafton Street, and The Secret Book and Record Store on Wicklow Street, a great spot for anything strange and off-beat.

9. History.
Ireland has a lot of history for such a small place. Not all of it was nice. The history we're creating today isn't very nice either. I guess we're better at stories than real life. . .
That being said, Ireland's history, if you're interested in it, is all over the place in Dublin. There is a hell of a lot of nice old architecture about, if you look up instead of down. There is the GPO, which was the central staging point of the 1916 Rising against British rule. The Bank of Ireland building on College Green was our parliament back in the 1700s, before the Act of Union united us with the UK. You can still see bullet holes in the angel statues on O'Connell Street - and while we're on the subject of O'Connell Street, Daniel O'Connell, the man for whom it's named, may be one of the nicest historical figures ever, in any country.
And you don't have to go too far out of Dublin to see even more history. Glendalough, home of St. Kevin's monastary, is less than an hour's drive from Dublin. One of only two UNESCO World Heritage Sites in the country is close by, too - Boyne Valley, which is full of Neolithic chamber graves that predate the Egyptian pyramids.

10. Murphy's Ice Cream Parlour
A very new arrival in the city that I just discovered a few weeks ago. Murphy's is utterly fantastic. They serve some of the most unusual ice cream flavours I've ever seen - sea salt (which I'm hoping to make over Christmas using the recipe on their site), pink peppercorn, and brown bread (which I could take or leave). They're an Irish company and they make their ice-cream from the milk of the endangered Kerry cow, and they constantly try new and cool things. What's not to love?
Oh, and there is a table in the Wicklow Street branch made from a surfboard, and a wall covered in Post-Its left by customers.

Following Talli's lead, would anyone else like to mention the coolest thing about their city?


  1. Love this list! Only been to Murphy's recently but what a lovely place. And the bookshops, oh the bookshops....

  2. Hi, Ellen! I've just followed you over from Talli's blog, and have you on follow now.

    Very good blog. Dublin's definitely a place I want to visit, and you've given me ideas on places to see.

    I've also followed her lead, and compiled my own blog list of things about my hometown, Ottawa, and the Valley beyond.

  3. Thanks for the follow, William, I enjoyed your posts a lot so I've followed you back. Cheers for posting, it looks to me like Ottowa gets unfairly overshadowed by Vancouver and Montreal.

  4. And unfortunately by Toronto, which likes to delude itself into believing it's a world class city.

    I'm finding ways to include Ireland one way or another into my current writings.

  5. Dublin does that too - Dublin also thinks that it's a major European capital, and we're really not. At the moment we are a major drain on European capital. . . but we have our charms!

    If I'm ever in Canada I will take in Ottowa and environs.

  6. I love markets! That's one thing we're missing in Edinburgh. There's a farmers' market, but I think that's about it.

    Murphy's Ice Cream Parlour sounds fabulous!

  7. Thanks so much for writing us, and I'm delighted you like our shop! We'll try to keep it new, cool, & interesting! :)

  8. Thanks for the reply, Kieran :) I'm going to have a crack at making sea salt ice cream over Christmas in case it disappears. I'm torn between wanting the sea salt to last forever and wanting to have space for new flavours.

    My current favourite is the raspberry sorbet, but it faces stiff competition from the mango and the sea salt.


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