All posts by Seán Silke

Irish Whiskey Museum

Irish Whiskey Museum

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

The Irish Whiskey Museum uncovers the intriguing story of Irish whiskey. Learn the origins of Irish whiskey, its rise to glory, its dramatic fall and its current revival. Located opposite the main entrance of Trinity College, the museum is very centrally located.

The Museum contains a unique collection of Irish whiskey memorabilia that dates back to the 1800s. At the end of the tour you enjoy a sample of Irish whiskey.

The Classic Tour consists of a fully guided tour and three crafted Irish whiskey tastings. The Premium Tour consists of a tour, three crafted Irish whiskey tastings, and a fourth aged Irish whiskey, matured for a minimum of 10 years. You also bring home a complimentary Irish Whiskey Museum souvenir. The Blending Experience is an extended 90-minute option, followed by a tasting of four Irish whiskeys. You also blend your own personalised bottle of whiskey to take home.

Opening Hours:
Summer: 10.00 am (first tour 10.30 am) to 6.00 pm (last tour 5.30 pm)
Winter: 10.30 am (first tour 11.00 am) to 6.00 pm (last tour 5.30 pm)

119 Grafton Street, Dublin 2

Tel: 01-5250970

Prices: Classic Tour – Adults €20; concessions. Premium Tour – Adults €23; concessions. Blending Experience – Adults €30; concessions.

Iveagh Trust Museum Flat 4

Iveagh Trust Museum Flat ***

For the past 120 years, the Iveagh Trust has offered affordable rented housing to people on low incomes, and good quality hostel accommodation for homeless men. The Trust owns and manages about 1,350 units of social rented and hostel accommodation in Dublin City and suburbs. This includes the famous Iveagh Hostel in central Dublin for homeless men (195 bedrooms).

A number of housing complexes were built by the Trust to replace slum dwellings in the area of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Patrick Street and Christ Church Cathedral between 1896 and 1945. The work was funded by the Guinness family at a time when Dublin city had the worst housing in the British Isles. In the early 1900s the flight of the middle class from the inner city to new suburbs left 50% of city dwellers in tenements. 33% of families lived in just one room. Insanitary, unhealthy conditions and extremely high mortality rates prevailed.

Flat 3B on the Bull Alley Estate is the only flat in The Iveagh Trust stock which has remained largely unchanged since the first tenants took up occupancy in 1904. The bulk of the furniture and fittings was acquired by the Trust from the Molloy family. The flat contains a living room and 2 bedrooms (one doubling as a food preparation area). Outside on the landing is a communal sink, w/c, and storage cupboard, used by the family to store coal.

Nellie Molloy, one of six children, found work as a weaver with the Greenmount Linen Co. in Harold’s Cross and had 27 years service there, until she left work to look after her sick mother. The rest of the family married. Nellie’s mother died in October 1967 and Nellie continued to live in the flat until her own death at the age of 95 in October 2002. By keeping her surroundings as they always had been, Nellie kept her memories of deceased family members very much alive. Following discussions with the family, the Trustees decided that the flat should remain a museum – a visual reminder of flat design and of how families lived in early 20th century Dublin tenements.

Viewing can be arranged for small groups by appointment only (phone 01 454 2312, during office hours Mon-Fri).

Flat 3b Iveagh Trust, Bull Alley Estate, Patrick Street, Dublin 8.

The Trust launched a website in 2013 with extensive information on its current activities, housing estates, homeless hostel & tenant services. The long history of the Iveagh Trust is also chronicled (

James Joyce House Of The Dead

James Joyce House of the Dead

The James Joyce House of the Dead is one of Dublin’s most interesting literary and historic buildings and is the place where Joyce set his famous short story, “The Dead”, and where director John Huston located his film of the story.

The man behind restoring the house – Brendan Kilty – had previously saved Sweny’s, the pharmacy in Clare Street immortalised in “Ulysses” (where Leopold Bloom purchased a bar of lemon soap).  At the turn of the millennium Brendan acquired the then derelict, burnt out and roofless 15 Usher’s Island. His mission was simple – to restore the house to its condition as of 1904 and to recreate the dinner party scene as described in “The Dead”. With the aid of an army of volunteers, supporters and friends across the globe, that dream was realised.

Sadly, the “dark gaunt house on Usher’s Island” has been sold on the instructions of receivers, and the property is now closed. Brendan Kilty filed for bankruptcy in the UK in 2012 and a large sum of money is owed to Ulster Bank in connection with the property.

According to an Irish Times news report (12/4/2017), 15 Usher’s Island was built around 1775 for Joshua Pim (who had a business in the adjoining house, number 16). “During the 1890s the upper floors of the building were rented by Joyce’s maternal great-aunts, who ran a music school and, most notably, held the Christmas parties that provide the scene for The Dead.”

15 Usher’s Island, Dublin 8

James Joyce Tower

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

The James Joyce Tower on Sandycove Point is one of a series of fifteen similar Martello towers built around Dublin in 1804 to counter the threat of an invasion by Napoleon. The design was based on that of a tower on Cape Mortella in Corsica which had resisted a British attack in 1794.

The Tower is about forty feet high with walls eight feet thick. There was a single entrance ten feet above the ground which could only be approached by ladder. On top of the tower was a gun deck with a carriage on a swivel. Its eighteen pounder cannon had a range of about a mile.

In 1904 the tower was demilitarised and put up for rent at £8 a year by the War Department. The first tenant was Oliver St John Gogarty, a medical student and budding poet, who moved in in August and invited the twenty-two-year-old James Joyce to join him. Joyce was slow to take up the invitation and did not arrive at the tower until 9 September, by which time their friendship had cooled. They were joined by Samuel Chenevix Trench, an Oxford friend of Gogarty’s.

Joyce’s stay was brief. He was chased out of the tower on the night of 14 September and never returned. A month later he left Ireland for a literary career in Europe. The first chapter of his famous novel “Ulysses”, published in 1922, was set in the tower with characters based on himself and his companions. As a result, the tower became his monument, despite the fact that Gogarty had been the tenant and that it had been visited over the years by many celebrated Irish personalities.

The tower was bought in 1954 by the architect Michael Scott. With the help of a gift of money from the filmmaker John Huston, he and his friends set up the James Joyce Museum which was opened on 16 June 1962 by Sylvia Beach, the first publisher of Ulysses. Over the years the museum collection has grown, thanks to the generosity of many donors. In 1978, an exhibition hall was added to the building and a new entrance was put in at ground level.

At one stage, it seemed that the James Joyce Tower and Museum would cease to exist, as the resources necessary to keep it open were no longer available. Thankfully, the people of Sandycove and Glasthule were not prepared to let such a catastrophe occur. An organisation of volunteers, the ‘Friends of Joyce Tower Society’, was formed with the objective of keeping the tower and its museum open. With the support of Fáilte Ireland (the tower’s current custodian), the Society now operates the tower.

Open Thur, Fri, Sat, Sun 10.00 am – 4.00 pm.

James Joyce Museum, Sandycove Point, Sandycove, Co. Dublin.

Tel: 01 280 9265

Admission free; donations welcomed.

Links of Interest

Links of Interest

Those with an enthusiasm for visiting historic houses and gardens will be interested in a list compiled by the Revenue Commissioners. The document lists properties which gain tax relief on money spent on repairs, restoration and maintenance. In return, such properties/gardens must open to the public for a limited number of days each year. The opening hours tend to be eccentric; hence, the need for a detailed listing! For full details, please consult

A more user-friendly website which covers many (but not all) historic houses with restricted opening hours is, the website of the Irish Historic Houses Association. Very full details, including opening hours, are provided for all those houses affiliated to the IHHA and you can search by county to identify historic houses within geographic areas of interest.

Open House Dublin is an annual weekend festival in early October featuring up to 100 noteworthy buildings, from the obvious to the overlooked. Representing a diversity of building types and uses, OHD offers visitors the chance to explore several buildings within a type or to spend the weekend moving around the city, taking in a host of attractions. Each venue offers a unique insight into Dublin’s architectural story. All OHD tours are free. See for full details.

“Bridges of Dublin” is a Dublin City Council project whereby a comprehensive digital archive of information has been developed about the bridges spanning the Liffey in Dublin county. is a wonderful-looking website with a host of historical information, splendid photographs and neat features such as a set of photos showing the bridges and the city as they were in the past and how they are in the summer of 2013 (you click on the images and they fade from old to new – click on “Historical Dublin” and select the “Then and Now” option).

The Dublin Event Guide is a weekly e-mail newsletter which lists free cultural events in Dublin City and in the Greater Dublin area. Gigs, festivals, talks, lectures, and exhibitions are included. Written in blog-style by Joerg Steegmueller, the Event Guide is free and has more than 20,000 readers.  You can subscribe free of charge to the weekly email by signing up at

Marlay Park Walled Gardens

Marlay Park Walled Gardens

Marlay Park Walled Gardens were restored in 2000 under the Great Gardens of Ireland Restoration Programme. The gardens were traditionally divided into three walled parts, two of which are now on view. Marlay Park in general is a fine but bland amenity; however, the walled gardens (which are somewhat hidden from view) are well worth a visit.

On entering through the head gardener’s house and tea rooms, the central position is taken by a Regency-style ornamental garden, featuring an extensive display of colourful period plants, ranging from herbaceous borders to shrub beds. The orangery, arbour and water fountain combine with the other features to create a distinctive atmosphere. The adjacent kitchen garden with its restored bothies is set out in a traditional early-nineteenth century manner and has a fine collection of regency fruit trees and vegetables.

Opening hours:
September 9.00 am – 8.00 pm
October 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
November to January 9.00 am – 5.00 pm
February to March 9.00 am – 6.00 pm
April 9.00 am – 9.00 pm
May to August 9.00 am – 10.00 pm

Marlay Park, Grange Road, Rathfarnham, Dublin 16

Tel: 01-2047275 or 01-2054341

Admission free. Enter through the coffee shop or via the gate at the right of the courtyard.

Apart from the walled gardens, Marlay Park is an extensive 247-acre historic demesne containing many historic features. The Park hosts a range of events throughout the year. It contains lawns, fine old trees and a number of large ponds fed by the Little Dargle River. The amenity caters for various sporting activities, including football, soccer, tennis, cricket, orienteering and running. It also includes children’s play facilities. Once the property of the La Touche banking family, the late eighteenth century house has been restored for public use.

Mary Aikenhead Heritage Centre

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

The Mary Aikenhead Heritage Centre showcases the history of the Religious Sisters of Charity. Through audio-visual scenes and many short video clips, visitors gain an insight into the life and times of Mary Aikenhead (1787-1858), the history of the congregation, and its continuing expression today.

Mary Aikenhead spent the last 27 years of her life as an invalid, communicating to her congregation through countless letters. The focal point of the exhibition is her room, where she lived from 1845 until her death in 1858.

Following her training at the Bar Convent in York, Mary founded the Congregation of the Religious Sisters of Charity and the first convent opened in North William Street, Dublin in 1815.

In 1821 the Governor of Kilmainham Gaol asked for sisters to visit two young women who had been convicted of murder and sentenced to death. The Governor was so impressed by the sister’s influence on these women that he asked that they would continue to be involved in prison visitation. To this day, prison visitation is an important ministry for the Congregation.

At the request of the Archbishop of Dublin, the Sisters of Charity opened their first school in 1830 in Gardiner Street, Dublin.

In 1832 there was an outbreak of Asiatic cholera in Ireland. A temporary hospital was set up in Grangegorman but it was badly managed and under-staffed. The Archbishop of Dublin asked Mary Aikenhead to send some of her sisters to Grangegorman to help. The death rate was high, but the sisters remained at their posts bringing solace to the dying and nursing to the convalescents. Only one sister contracted the disease, and she survived.

In 1835 St. Vincent’s Hospital opened in a house on St. Stephen’s Green. It was the first hospital staffed by nuns in the English-speaking world.

The Children’s Hospital in Temple Street was founded in 1872 by a group of charitable people in a house at 9 Upper Buckingham Street, Dublin. There was a steady increase in activity in the first years, prompting the Governing Committee in 1876 to invite the Religious Sisters of Charity to take over the complete running of the hospital which they did in July 1876.

Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross was opened in December 1879. Newspaper reports at the time hailed the opening of the Hospice as ‘a unique charity’ and as one ‘previously unknown in these islands, or indeed in the neighbouring continent’.

In 1892 Providence Woollen Mills was established under the guidance of Sr. Mary Arsenius Morrogh Bernard as a way of improving the social and economic conditions of the people of Foxford, Co. Mayo.

Open Tuesday to Sunday 10.30 am – 4.00 pm.

Our Lady’s Hospice, Harold’s Cross Rd, Harold’s Cross, Dublin 6W

Tel: 01-4910041

Admission is free. Please phone in advance to arrange a visit.

National Aquatic Centre (Aquazone)

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

Aquazone, at the National Aquatic Centre, is one of the most innovative water parks in Europe. The Centre has over 650,000 visitors per year. Aquazone offers thrills, water adventures and loads of fun. Rides include:

  • Master Blaster (water roller coaster) – with hair-raising drops and thrilling banked curves, this rollercoaster-style ride is a proven hair raiser.
  • Flow Rider (Surfing Machine) – the fun and excitement of surfing, skateboarding and snowboarding in a truly interactive ride.
  • Wave Pool – the swell of the waves starts in the deep end of the pool and comes towards you, lifting you up. Just like in the ocean, as the waves get closer to the shore, they reduce in size and gradually wash up on the centre shoreline.
  • Green Giant – reach high speeds on this long, open top water slide. Experience thrills and high speeds as you are taken around bends towards the splash opening at the bottom.
  • Pirate Ship – heaven for kids aged 8 and under. Full of safe and fun rides, complete with pirate ship, cannons and small slides.
  • Bubble Pool –  sit back and relax into a world of luxury as the powerful jacuzzi pool jets take your stress away. A real adult favourite at AquaZone.
  • Dark Hole – Take a slide down the dark flume. In total darkness. You know the end is coming, you just don’t know when it will arrive. A slide for adrenaline junkies.
  • Lazy River – float around the Wave Pool at two miles an hour, a relaxing 120 metre ride.

The opening times of Aquazone vary depending on the season. The general opening hours are from 10.00 am until 6.00 pm seven days a week, but the complex has longer opening hours in the peak season and at other high demand times.

The peak period covers Saturdays, Sundays, Bank Holidays and national school holiday periods.  All other times (i.e. Mondays-Fridays outside of national school holiday periods) are regarded as off peak. 

Rates for Off Peak Period
Monday-Friday 10.00 am-12.00 pm
Pirate ship and Wave Pool ONLY (wave machine not in use) – Adults: €6 Children: €4
Monday-Friday 12.00 pm-6.00 pm
Pirate ship and Wave Pool ONLY (wave machine not in use) – Adults: €7.50 Children: €5

Rates for the Peak Season 
Adults: €16.50; children €14.50.

National Aquatic Centre, National Sports Campus, Snugborough Road, Blanchardstown, Dublin 15

Tel: 01- 6464 300

Pearse Lyons Distillery

Pearse Lyons Distillery

COVID-19 advice: Please follow current government advice and check opening times before travel.

Situated in Dublin’s historic Liberties, the Pearse Lyons Distillery is a boutique distillery located only five minutes away from the Guinness Storehouse. Nestled in the former Church of St. James, the distillery has a colourful history dating back to the 12th Century.

Via the tour of the distillery and surrounding graveyard, guests are introduced to compelling characters from Dublin’s famous distilling and brewing district. This district, rich in culture and tradition, was once a place of booming industry known as The Golden Triangle.

The Pearse Lyons Distillery produces some of Ireland’s finest small batch Irish whiskies and celebrates the Irish tradition of storytelling on each guided tour. Guests enjoy a sensory experience as they are brought through the distilling process, before enjoying whiskey and gin tastings at our tasting bar. The tour options include a guided tour and tasting experience, an art of distilling experience with the head distiller and a whiskey and food pairing experience, with local seasonal produce.

All booklets, interactive material and welcome videos are translated in seven languages (English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Chinese and Portuguese).

The distillery tours run every hour on the hour and are small in size so that you can enjoy a more personal experience.

St. James’s Church dates back to the 12th century. The church was constructed in 1859 in a Gothic design with a cross shape, a tower and a spire at the southwest corner. It was closed for worship following a decline in the number of parishioners in 1963. It underwent various transformations, including becoming a lighting store and a food warehouse, until finally being renovated as you see it today.

Most of the original glass windows at St. James’ Church were either damaged or removed.  The new owners have given fresh life to the old window frames, creating stories associated with the art of the cooper, Irish whiskey and St. James. The illustrations include the pilgrimage to the Camino de Santiago; how Irish whiskey is made; the art of coopering; and the natural ingredients used in making “uisce beatha” (Irish for whiskey).

Irish whiskey has a long and interesting history. While the exact origins are not known, ancient manuscripts reveal Irish monks practised the art of distillation during the 6th Century. In the early days, the monasteries where the monks resided were at the centre of life and industry in Ireland and they prospered between the 6th and 9th centuries. However, from the 9th to 11th centuries, the Vikings invaded Ireland and destroyed the monasteries, forcing the monks to flee to Scotland where they created new settlements, bringing with them the art of distillation, thus beginning the production of Scotch whisky.

The next phase of importance arose during the 12th Century when the Normans invaded Ireland. It is said that the Norman soldiers appreciated the taste of Irish whiskey but they found the pronunciation of the word “Uisce Beatha” tricky and so renamed it, first “fuisce” and then “whiskey”.

The popularity of Irish whiskey grew so much so that by the 17th Century it was the drink of choice for Queen Elizabeth I of England. At the same time, commercial development began to occur as the government granted licences to a number of distilleries for the purpose of distilling whiskey. The first licence was granted in 1608 to Sir Thomas Phillips at the Old Bushmills Distillery (in the north-east of Ireland). This distillery is still in existence today and is the oldest working distillery in the world.

By the late 18th Century, distilleries flourished and some of the finest Irish whiskeys were exported throughout the British Empire. Similarly, from 1740 to 1910, Irish emigrants to the United States brought the taste of Irish whiskey to America. By the beginning of the 20th century, Irish whiskey accounted for 90% of the global export market. However, after establishing itself as the dominant world whiskey, two cruel blows were about to be dealt to the industry.

During 1916, as the First World War raged throughout Europe, the Irish rebelled against their British rulers. The treaty with Britain which followed the rebellion led to a civil war in Ireland from 1919 to 1921. The ending of civil war was then followed by a prolonged economic war with Britain which severely limited the volume of whiskey Ireland could export.

At the same time, the United States introduced the Prohibition laws which outlawed the production, importation or trade in alcoholic beverages. With difficulties in Ireland’s two most important export markets, many distilleries here closed their doors. When Prohibition ended in 1943, Ireland did not have a sufficient supply of mature Irish whiskey to cater for American demand. The dominant market position which Irish whiskey enjoyed prior to Prohibition was lost to the Scottish distillers and by the early 1960’s the export of Irish whiskey was virtually non-existent.

Coopers, often referred to as artisans of wood, are professional craftsmen who create barrels or casks for whiskey and various other alcoholic beverages, such as sherry, bourbon and wine. It is estimated that 6,000 coopers once worked this trade in Ireland, building and repairing wooden barrels for the once-thriving whiskey and beer industries that are now enjoying a renaissance.

Coopers have worked in the Liberties (part of Dublin’s inner city) for hundreds of years. They were the original packaging experts for dry and wet goods. The breweries and distilleries in the area employed them to mature and transport their goods. Pearse Lyons’ ancestors on his mother’s side, the Dunnes, were skilled in this craft for generations. One family member, Margaret Dunne, is recorded as the first female cooper in Ireland.

Irish whiskeys and other craft beverages are aged in wooden barrels. Storing the liquid in barrels allows the wood to impart its rich, nutty, spicy flavours and aromas. This process further enhances the drinkability of the liquid contained within. Due to the global rise in demand for Irish whiskey, the need for coopers and their finished products is stronger than ever.

Irish whiskey matures from anywhere between three years and a day to over 40 years. The barrels expand and contract with age and according to the temperature of the warehouse in which they rest. It is in reaction to this maturation process that the coopers play their most vital role. As the wood ages and the spirit within matures, cracks or other changes can appear in the wood. The coopers repair, maintain and protect the casks as they age.

Opening Hours
Monday to Saturday: 9.30 am– 6.00 pm (first tour 10.00 am, last tour 5.00 pm)
Sundays: 11.30 am–6.00 pm (first tour 12.00 pm, last tour 5.00 pm)

Pearse Lyons Distillery
121-122 James’s Street
Dublin 8

Tel: 01-6916000

Adults: €20. Children under 10 free; children aged 11-17 €10.


Pepper Canister

The Pepper Canister

The Pepper Canister Church (real name St. Stephen’s Church) was the last of a distinguished series of Georgian churches built by the Church of Ireland. New suburbs were being built on the estates of families now commemorated in the names of the streets and squares of Dublin – names like Gardener (Mountjoy), Dawson, Molesworth, and Pembroke (Herbert).

Historic parish residents included Oscar Wilde, Sheridan Le Fanu, the Duke of Wellington, W.B. Yeats, Elizabeth Bowen and Thomas Davis.

Major conservation works were completed in 2010.

St. Stephen’s is a popular concert venue but these are poorly advertised. So the only way to guarantee gaining admission to the church is by attending 11.00 am service on the first Sunday of the month (the building is open from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm). (this website has gone off air)

Mount Street Crescent, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 6767727

More information online