Dublin, Ireland

I was born on Hatch Street in Dublin.
I never get tired of looking at Dublin doors.


The Fair City, Strumpet City (a novel by James Plunkett), Baille atha Cliath (Irish for "town of the hurdled fords"), Blackpool (Dubh linn from the Norse); however you want to call it, Dublin is a wondrous, thousand-year-old, European capital city. Best seen on foot, from Stephen's Green to Phoenix Park, from Merrion Square to Parnell Square, or up and down O'Connell Street and Grafton Street, most of Dublin can be walked in a day. Split by the River Liffey into two halves (north and south), a 'Dub' is said to be born between the two canals (the Royal Canal on the North side and the Grand Canal on the south side). "Beyond the pale" (i.e., outside acceptable behaviour) was the area outside the realm of the former ruling Ascendancy, an area roughly bounded by the embryonic Dublin Mountains.

Stephen's Green

Merrion Square

The Liffey

The Grand Canal

Art, architecture, and statues.

Dublin is a capital city and has more than its fair share of art and old buildings. Francis Bacon was born in Dublin. His studio is on display in the Hugh Lane Gallery (top of Parnell Square). There is a Vemeer and a Carvaggio in the National Gallery (Merrion Square) and a Spanish room with three Goyas. Look for the work of Irish painters Jack Yeats and Paul Henry. The Tara Broach and Ardagh Chalice are on display in the National Museum (Kildare Street). The Chester Beatty Library is behind Dublin Castle. It's not a library, but rather home to a collection of exquisite illuminated manuscripts and Eastern artifacts. In high tourist time, the Book of Kells in Trinity College can be a letdown. The Chester Beatty is the perfect antidote. A longer but pleasant walk from the centre takes one to Collins Barracks (decorative art) and IMMA (modern Irish art) at the refurbished Kilmainham Hospital (now also at a new exhibition space at Earlsfort Terrace). Both are great sites for an art or lunch outing. Public galleries are free. No need to stay longer than you want.

Baggot Street

Hugh Lane

Chester Beatty

Trinity College Dublin

Dublin is famed for its Georgian squares. Merrion Square is the best preserved, but look out for Fitzwilliam Square, Parnell Square, and Mountjoy Square. Try the Saturday tour of Government Buildings, which includes a tour of the taoiseach's (prime minister's) office and cabinet rooms. The tour is free and on the hour. A ticket is required, which can be booked on the day in the nearby National Gallery. George Bernard Shaw's house is well worth it for a look into the past, circa 1900. The Victorian Kilmainham Gaol has an informative tour on the 1916 Rebellion. The rebels were all executed there, including Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, and Sean Heuston (now commemorated by the three main Dublin train stations). The prison scenes with Noel Coward in The Italian Job were filmed there. The GPO or General Post Office is the spiritual centre of the Rebellion and worth seeing for the Fifties interior and 1916 art work. The Spire outside reflects the once and future proud Celtic confidence.

Fitzwilliam Square

Government Buildings

Pearse Station


For statues, Molly Malone is on Grafton Street, James Joyce on Henry Street, and Michael Collins in Merrion Square. Other famous Irish are dotted throughout from Countess Markeweicz (the first woman elected to Westminster, though she refused her seat as a Sinn Fein member) in Stephen's Green, Big Jim Larkin on O'Connell Street, and Patrick Kavanagh, cap in hand, on the bank of the Grand Canal, among numerous others. Oscar Wilde sits outside his parents' home in Merrion Square. You will hear Dublin rhyming slang used for most statues, which is easily picked up: the tart with the cart (Molly Malone), the hags with the bags (shoppers by the Haypenny Bridge), the flouzzi in the jacuzzi, now replaced by the sculptural wonder of the Spire of Dublin (or large flagpole, depending on your view), a.k.a. the "spike," "stiletto in the ghetto," "rod to God," along with other unmentionables.

Molly Malone

James Joyce

Oscar Wilde

Patrick Kavanagh

The Irish language.

Cead mille failte is the traditional Irish welcome, meaning "a hundred thousand welcomes." Uisce batha is "water of life," i.e., whisky (no 'e' in Irish whisky, though plenty of alcohol). Street names have uppers and lowers. Aras an uachtarain is literally "the house of the upper one," where the upper one (president) lives in Phoenix Park. Interestingly, Phoenix comes from fionn uisce meaning "fair" or "clear water." There are no mythical birds, but plenty of deer ruttling in the morning if you're up early enough. You will also find the American ambassador's residence and an obelisk dedicated to the Duke of Wellington, who was born in Dublin.


The Republic of Ireland has a bicameral parliamentary democracy with an elected lower house (the Dáil, pronounced 'doll' or 'doyle') and a mostly-appointed upper house (Séanad). The head of state, the president, is elected for seven years to a largely ceremonial position, currently Michael D. Higgins in his second term. Leo Varadkar is the leader of the centre-right Fine Gail party (48 seats with 7 independents) and prime minister (taoiseach in Irish) since 2017. Fianna Fáil (43) and Sinn Féin (21) are the main opposition parties, followed by various independents.

Leo Varadkar

Fine Gail

Micheal Martin

Fianna Fail

Mary Lou McDonald

Sinn Fein

Eamon Ryan

Green Party

Traditionally, Fianna Fáil is the party of Eamonn De Valera, who opposed the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921 and Fine Gael is the party of Micheal Collins, who signed the treaty and in so doing sealed his fate, as he himself predicted. The Treaty partitioned Ireland into the nine counties of Northern Ireland and the twenty-three counties of the Free State. Northern Ireland became the six counties (three counties immediately joining the South as prescribed in the Treaty's Boundary Commission). In 1948, the Free State became the Republic of Ireland and left the Commonwealth. (Ulster in fact refers to the nine counties and is not synonymous with Northern Ireland.) Fianna Fáil and Fine Gael are both right of centre parties, while Labour, Sinn Féin, the Green Party, and independents are of varying degrees to the left.


Indeed, Dubliners like their drink. Guinness, of course, is the drink of choice. Drunk in pints or halves and typically in rounds. The Gravediggers (a.k.a. Kavanaghs in Drumcondra) reputedly has the best pint. It is true that the water in Guinness once came from the south-side Grand Canal. Conversation is preferred to piped-in music in a few older bars. Try The Palace Bar on Fleet Street (a famed Irish Times hangout, including the likes of Flan O'Brien), Mulligans (the local in the Irish sitcom Bachelors Walk), McDaids (where Brendan Behan and Sean O'Casey traded barbs and the odd tussle with the poet Patrick Kavanagh.) Upstairs at Neary's is a student hangout. Downstairs at Peter's is a quiet respite. The International is the scene of a few impromptu Sunday sessions and the meeting place for The 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour, hosted by Lorcan Collins and Conor Kostick. Grogans is for the more Bohemian. The U2-part-owned Clarence Hotel is an elegant repose from the more touristy Oirish pubs of Temple Bar. Pop stars are occasionally seen. Session or 'trad' music can be heard in Hughes (behind the Four Courts) or at the Cobblestone (in Smithfield). Old politician hangouts include Doheny and Nesbitt's and Toners on Bagott Street (the only pub where the more refined William Butler Yeats was said to have once entered, but left seemingly not amused), and the buttoned-down, upper-crust Shelbourne beside Stephen's Green. The drink atop the Guinness Storehouse has the best view in town. Late night at the Gaeity, Café en Seine, or Renards will keep the drink flowing.


The Clarence


The Shelbourne

Drunk /drʌŋk/ (adj.): locked, twisted, langered, pissed, (well) oiled, waisted, sloshed, plastered, hammered, buckled, (absolutely) fucked, flutered, socious, gargled, tattooed, shit-faced, wanked, cabbaged, Mary Poppins, lamped, palatic, out of my bin/out (off) your head/out of the box. In Irish, slainte means cheers.

To be sure, it's hard to go wrong in an Irish pub, though beware the old retort of "going for one," which could mean one for the road, one for the door, one for the ditch, or all of the above. Look out for the so-called official James Joyce pubs, complete with spelling and grammatical errors on a plaque. The master would be amused. His image and words are free to be used in any way one likes, now that family copyright has expired.

Some good walks.

If you like to mix words and drink, try the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl which starts in the Duke. Well worth the walk and talk and drink. The 1916 Rebellion Walking Tour starts and ends in a pub (The International), as did some in the actual rebellion. The Baloonatics Theatre Company are not to be missed, seen on the streets of Dublin reading and enchanting every Bloomsday (bring your own flask).


A few cheep and cheerful places are Pizza Stop, down the lane from Neary's (much better than the name suggests), veggie Fresh on the top floor of Powerscourt, and the internationally-flavoured Food Court off Abbey Street, with buffet choices from around the world. The IFI has good food and loyalty bonus points. The 101 on Talbot Street is more upscale, but great for a theatre night out. Tante Zoës offers cool Cajun delights. Tolteca has the best burrito in town. Wagamama is great for at detox pick-me-up. FX Buckleys has the best steak in town and is both amiable and well-priced.

Pizza Stop

Chatham Lane


Eustace Street

The 101

Talbot Street

FX Buckley

Grill Crow Street


Look all ways and never expect drivers to stop. There is nothing fair about the roads in the Fair City.


The Chester Beatty (a two-story museum full of prints, dress, and manuscripts from around the world). The Poolbeg lighthouse for a great Dublin Bay view (walk from Sandymount Strand along the pier wall to the Poolbeg lighthouse in Dublin Bay.) Newgrange (day trip to the Boyne and sight of a neolithic passage tomb. The inside chamber is aligned to the winter solstice and pre-dates the pyramids by 1,000 years).

Easy day trips and excursions.

Howth. Take the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit) north and get out at the last stop. Fish and chips on the pier is an all-time favourite, though for a longer outing try a walk around the entire peninsula. Sweeping views of the Irish Sea and Dublin Bay are not to be missed. The Summit Inn is a good point to aim for.

Sandycove. The James Joyce Tower in Sandycove (where "stately and plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead" to begin Ulysses.) Take the DART south to Dun Laoghaire (Done Leary) and walk to Sandycove.

Birr Castle if you like astronomy, where the once world's-largest reflecting telescope can still be seen. Weekends to Kilkenny (arts), Galway (oysters, Irish music, races), Cork, Kerry, Derry, Belfast, .... Check out Peter Lynch's excellent Rambling Round Ireland for ideas.

Odds and sods.

Postal codes: even on the south side, odd on the north side. D2 is the city centre south of the river, D1 north of the river. The LUAS: not an acronym, Luas means "swift" in Irish. No one knows why. Some have said it means "slow." Finnegans Wake does not have an apostrophe and begins as it ends: "riverrrun, past Eve and Adam's from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs."

Dublin names.

Dubblenn, Doveland, Dablena [various Dublin names in Finnegans Wake]

By any other name.

A walking town: Guinness Brewery, IMMA at Kilmainham Hospital, Phoenix Park, Georgian squares, galleries, along the canals, the Liffey, Sandymount strand. Try to catch Pat Liddy giving one of his always excellent tours.

A literary town: Gulliver's Travels, The Importance of Being Earnest, Dubliners, Ulysses, Finnegans Wake, The Plough and The Stars, Juno and The Paycock, Playboy of the Western World, The Stolen Child, Pygmallion, Arms and The Man, At-Swim Two Birds, Waiting for Godot, Krapp's Last Tape, The Borstal Boy.

A writer's town: Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, Sean O'Casey, John Millington Synge, William Butler Yeats, Bram Stoker, George Bernard Shaw, Flan O'Brien, Samuel Beckett, Brendan Behan, Patrick Kavanagh, Roddy Doyle.

The writers do the talking.

Oscar Wilde

I'm dying beyond my means. (Death bed quote)

I can resist everything except temptation. (Lady Windermere's Fan)

Charity, dear Miss Prism, charity! None of us are perfect. I myself am peculiarly susceptible to draughts. (The Importance of Being Ernest)

In America, the young are always ready to give to those who are older than themselves the benefit of their inexperience.

If one could only teach the English how to talk and the Irish how to listen, society would be quite civilized. (An Ideal Husband)

Jonathan Swift (Dean of St. Patricks)

Satire is a sort of glass, wherin beholders do generally discover everybody's face but their own. (The Battle of the Books)

We have just enough religion to make us hate, but not enough to make us love one another.

George Bernard Shaw

There are two tragedies in life. One is not to get your heart's desire. The other is to get your heart's desire. (Man and Superman IV)

He who can, does. He who cannot, teaches. (Maxims for Revolutionists)

Newspapers are unable seemingly to discriminate between a bicycle accident and the collapse of civilization.

He knows nothing; and he thinks he knows everything. That points clearly to a political career.

Sir Boyle Roche: (18th-century Irish parliamentarian and author of many Irish bulls--a contradictory maxim.) It was Sir Boyle who made the startling discovery that "a man differs from a bird in not being able to be in two places at once."

I smell a rat; I see him floating in the air; but I'll nip him in the bud.

Along the untrodden paths of the future, I can see the footprints of an unknown hand.

The country is overrun with absentee landlords.

They would cut us to mince meat and throw our bleeding heads on the table, to stare us in the face.

I tell you, the cup of old Ireland's misery is overflowing; aye, and it is not full yet.

On Ireland.

The Irish prefer drink to food because it interferes less with conversation. Oliver Gogarty.

Ireland is a country bursting with genius but with absolutely no talent. Hugh Leonard

An Irish atheist is one who wishes to God he could believe in God. J. P. Mahaffy

An Irishman is never at peace unless he's fighting. Brendan Behan

In Ireland it is considered bad taste to be serious. Sean O'Faolain

On Drink.

'The Workmans Friend'

When things go wrong and will not come right,
Though you do the best you can,
When life looks black as the hour of night -

When money's tight and hard to get
And your horse has also ran,
When all you have is a heap of debt -

When health is bad and your heart feels strange,
And your face is pale and wan,
When doctors say you need a change,

When food is scarce and your larder bare
And no rashers grease your pan,
When hunger grows as your meals are rare -

In time of trouble and lousey strife,
You have still got a darlint plan
You still can turn to a brighter life -

Brian Nolan (Flan O'Brien)

My favourite bull.

A farmer who sold a pig at a fair wasn't disappointed at the low price it fetched. "Well, I didn't get as much as I expected, but then I didn't expect I would," he said. Check out A Life in Words for more.

The beginning of Ulysses.

1. Telemachus

Stately, plump Buck Mulligan came from the stairhead, bearing a bowl of lather on which a mirror and a razor lay crossed. A yellow dressinggrown, ungirdled, was sustained gently behind him by the mid morning air. He held the bowl aloft and intoned:

-- Introibo ad altere Dei

The end and beginning of Finnegans Wake.

riverrrun, past Eve and Adam's from swerve of shore to bend of bay, brings us by a commodious vicus of recirculation back to Howth Castle and Environs.