My Favorite Destinations: Dublin

by Diana M. Hechler

(December 2, 2003) Q. Is there life beyond the Book of Kells? What IS the Book of Kells? Does every Larchmonter visiting Dublin see the Book of Kells?

A. It’s a medieval illustrated manuscript from the town of Kells, now residing at Trinity College in downtown Dublin.

I admit it; we skipped it. But “Dublin’s Fair City where the girls are so pretty” held other charms for my husband and two sons this past summer, starting with the life-like statue of Molly Malone (see lyrics) right in the center of town. Dubliners have an epithet for just about every piece of art in their city and Molly Malone is “the tart with the cart”. You should hear what they call the gleaming spire on O’Connell Street. (Sorry, this is a family publication.)

A view from the top of the Guinness Brewery
On a whim, we hopped off our Hop-on-Hop-off bus tour of the city (always a good introduction) at the Guinness Brewery. I’m not a beer lover and nor are my husband or kids, but we were there for 3 hours! Guinness has transformed a cavernous factory space into a state-of-the-art interactive exhibition on the Guinness story, suitable for all ages. After your self-guided tour, head to the top for a free pint; the bartenders will magically create a cloverleaf on the foam. Kids get free sodas and you can even eat a simple lunch among the clouds.

I particularly loved Kilmainham Gaol, also accessible by the bus tour. Every important rebel in modern Ireland was a political prisoner at the jail up until the 1920’s when Ireland gained its independence from Britain. Then, many of them became the new country’s leaders, including its prime minister. The Gaol illustrates Ireland’s complicated history without being macabre or grisly. Plus, you’ll get a lovely walk through the Royal Hospital Grounds on the way to and from the Gaol.

The Powerscourt Fountain in the Rain

If you can imagine a place where rain and sunshine trade off 6 or 7 times a day, think how happy gardeners must be in Ireland. Just south of Dublin lies beautiful Powerscourt Garden. You’ll need a car and you’ll need to drive on the left, but if you make it there, your reward is a magnificent Italianate garden spread over multiple tiers. Although the great house suffered a disastrous fire in the 1970’s, the gardens have lost none of their incandescent beauty. You can enjoy a stunning great lawn offset by classical statuary, a beautiful reflecting pool, multiple smaller gardens with Dolphin, Japanese, and other themes, and a botanical garden, all framed by the great house. Lunch is available for the hungry (or the sodden), as well as an extensive craft shop.

For the Kids: Dublinia recreates life in medieval Dublin, complete with a live cat or two, not to mention some actors. Adjacent to Christ Cathedral.

Diana M. Hechler, D. Tours Travel