In Dublin’s fair city ...
Last updated at 15:06, Tuesday, 20 March 2012
AS St Patrick’s Day rolls around, the Republic of Ireland’s capital city is set to be inundated with tourists joining in with the iconic annual festivities. LEE PROCTER and EMMA PRESTON explain why Dublin is worth a visit – whatever the time of year
WARNING – If you’re planning a trip to Dublin, there will be various kinds of stereotypical behaviour expected of you, not by the good people of Ireland, but by the folks back homeYou will be expected to drink Guinness.
Heaven help you if you don’t come back with a picture of yourself with at least one leprechaun.
And for crying out loud, get the “Top of the mornin’s” out of your system while sat in the airport lounge, and therefore hopefully out of earshot of anyone who speaks with a real Irish accent.
These are the basic requirements of anyone preparing for the 45-minute short-haul across the Irish Sea to the UK’s nearest neighbour.
And we’re not ashamed to say that, on our pre-Christmas trip to Dublin, we did not disappoint.
Thankfully, we also discovered there is so much more to the fair city and the Irish culture than alcohol, accents and souvenir shamrocks.
We arrived at a snowy Ariel House, in the shadow of Aviva Stadium (formerly Lansdowne Road), to be greeted by a roaring fire, warm homemade mince pies and pots of tea.
Our junior suite, complete with four-poster bed, proved a perfect base, while the friendly staff and breakfasts (the pancakes have to be tried to be believed) were first rate.
Not the type to ease ourselves into a holiday, we were soon heading for the outskirts of the city to indulge in a night of traditional Irish entertainment at the Merry Ploughboy Pub.
Sitting down to a hearty three-course meal in the most atmospheric of quaint venues, we were treated to live performances of both Irish music and dance.
It was impossible not to get caught up in the feel-good factor emanating all around the pub and soon we were both singing and clapping along to songs we knew (think Fairytale of New York by The Pogues and the unofficial anthem of Dublin, The Ballard of Molly Malone) and those we didn’t.
The next morning we used the DART rail line and then the city’s green tourist buses to head to the Guinness Storehouse.
Wandering around its seven floors, the storehouse brings to life the rich heritage of Guinness, telling the story from its origins at St James’s Gate in Dublin to its growth as a brand known around the world.
The highlight was reaching the top floor and The Gravity Bar, where we enjoyed stunning 360 degree views of the city and beyond, while sipping pints of the black stuff and singing along to Christmas carols.
Having satisfied our tastebuds sampling the Guinness, we headed back down the River Liffey, over Ha’penny Bridge and onto the streets of Temple Bar, an area best known for housing some of Dublin’s finest watering holes. With ample good craic and traditional live music in every pub, the beers flowed and our purses/wallets emptied – yes, Dublin is as expensive as they say!
Before calling it a night we ate at The Church. Having lain derelict for a number of years, the 18th century building was extensively restored and is now a popular bar and restaurant. Eating in such surroundings, most notably the wedding venue of Arthur Guinness himself, was spectacular. The food also proved a big hit, especially the Baileys Cheesecake.
A good night’s sleep later, we took a trip to Phoenix Park to visit Dublin Zoo. Home to 600 animals, including gorillas, orangutans, tigers, snow leopards and elephants, its 28-hectare grounds provided hours of great adventure.
Our next stop, The National Leprechaun Museum, was recommended by a friend. Led through several rooms by an enthusiastic storytelling guide, it was a fun and engaging way to learn more about the folklore and mythology of Ireland. We laughed like children throughout, especially when leaping around on giant-sized furniture and using crayons to draw leprechauns (Lee’s looked more like the Green Goblin from Spider-Man).
More laughs followed on the nearby outdoor ice skating rink before we settled down to a delicious three-course meal at The Mongolian Barbecue. The highlight was the all-you-can eat buffet, with chefs cooking your selected meats, vegetables and fresh noodles on a huge hot grill while you waited. Suffice to say, we revisited the hot grill again, and again.
The next day we toured St Patrick’s Cathedral, Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin Castle – all equally impressive and steeped in intriguing history. For our night-time entertainment, we visited another of Dublin’s architectural treasures, the 1871-built Gaitey Theatre. Sitting amongst hundreds of excited kids, we watched former pop princess Samantha Mumba (remember her?) star in the pantomime, Robinson Crusoe. It proved to be excellent fun. We then frequented some more of Dublin’s fine pubs before staggering back to our accommodation, having missed the last DART.
Starting our final day with a matching pair of sore heads, we headed into the city centre and perched at a table in the famous and hugely-popular Bewley’s cafe. Two pizzas, two hot chocolates and two scrumptious scones later, we felt suitably energised to visit Trinity College and join the crowds eager to view The Book of Kells – an illuminated manuscript in Latin containing the four gospels of the New Testament.
A few hours later it was time to fly back across the Irish Sea – but not before getting photographed with a leprechaun beside the Molly Malone statue.
Stereotype checklist completed!
First published at 13:12, Friday, 16 March 2012
Published by http://www.nwemail.co.uk
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