All posts by Seán Silke

Pearse Lyons Distillery

Pearse Lyons Distillery

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 service on the first Sunday of the month (the building is open from 10.30 am to 12.30 pm).

Mount Street Crescent, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 6767727

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre

Powerscourt Townhouse Centre is a speciality shopping centre set in an elegant Georgian house just off Grafton Street. Formerly home to Richard Wingfield 3rd Viscount Powerscourt (1730-1788), this town house entertained guests during the Parliament season. A fine example of Dublin’s Georgian architecture, it is unique in showing the transition from rococo style to neo-classical under one roof.

A guided tour takes you through the kitchen and cellars, the entrance hall, Lady Powerscourt’s dressing room and bedroom, the music room, the ballroom and the dining room (all these areas are now in commercial use).

59 South William Street, Dublin 2.

Group tours available by request Mon-Fri: contact Shireen on 086 8065505 or email

Richmond Barracks

Richmond Barracks

Richmond Barracks – within whose walls over 3,000 Irish rebels were held – has been carefully restored to house an interactive, multimedia attraction tracing the story of the site from military barracks to housing estate, and from school to exhibition centre. Visitors can discover this lost chapter of Kilmainham’s and Inchicore’s history in the heart of Dublin.

If one sees the saga of Easter Week 1916 as a drama, the first Act is centred on the GPO and the last Act focuses on the the executions in Kilmainham Gaol. But the middle Act was played out in Richmond Barracks. Over 3,000 rebels, men and women of the Easter Rising, were held and sorted in the barracks buildings. The front line soldiers, rounded up from across Ireland, were packed in tightly, awaiting their sentence to prison camps in England or Wales.

The leaders were plucked out of the crowd and set aside in the barracks gymnasium to await their courts martial and fate. 90 death sentences were handed out over the first two weeks of May, and 14 executions were carried out in Kilmainham, including the seven signatories of the proclamation. Many of the architects of the new Irish state were held in the barracks including Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, Arthur Griffith, and William T. Cosgrave.

Even the conclusion to the Rising has its roots in the Richmond Barracks. The British Prime Minister, Herbert Asquith, visited Richmond Barracks on the 13th of May, and the stay of executions which followed is often attributed to that visit.

In time, Richmond Barracks was given over by the State to to house people who required accommodation. By 1926, the converted barracks were renamed Keogh (or Kehoe) Square. By 1928, 248 families were housed in the barracks buildings and an additional 218 families lived in houses built on the thirteen acre field east of the square.

When the barracks were first converted into flats, they were amongst the finest in Dublin. Each hall housed six families, two on each floor, and each flat usually had two or three bedrooms, a large living room and open fire, a small kitchen, and a toilet. The estate was working class, with some people struggling to get by on small or no wages while feeding large families. It was a strong and stable community with close ties to one another. Though the community in Keogh Square changed and moved on, the Richmond Barracks Exhibition Centre shines light on the local history and folklore of Inchicore and Kilmainham.

The adjacent Goldenbridge Cemetery is now open to visitors for the first time since it closed in 1869. This was the first Catholic cemetery in Ireland, founded by Daniel O’Connell in 1828. Visitors can walk through the unspoilt garden cemetery; learn about the vaults, the watchmen with guard dogs, bodysnatching;  and visit a Taoiseach’s grave and that of an eight year old boy killed as a result of a bullet wound in the 1916 Rising.

Open Mon-Sat 10.00 am – 4.00 pm (last admission 3.00 pm). Daily tours at 11.00 am, 1.00 pm  and 2.00 pm.
Saturday/Bank Holidays – Tour at 11.00 am only.
Closed Sundays.

Apart from the standard tour, there are two additional tour options.

Walking Tour: Richmond Barracks to Kilmainham – Walk in the footsteps of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, from Richmond Barracks to Kilmainham Gaol. Hear the story of Inchicore, from the Rising’s ‘lost chapter’, to ‘the Saints’ Football Club, and the art deco Inchicore Library. This guided walk will take you right through the heart of historic Inchicore and Kilmainham.

Melodies & Memories Tour – Experience the story of the Barracks through a special singalong tour. Enjoy the songs of the day, such as ‘It’s a long way to Tipperary’, ‘The Minstrel Boy’ and ‘The Foggy Dew’.

There is also a programme of free talks and classes – click here

Off Bulfin Rd, Inchicore, Dublin 8

Tel: 01-222 8400

Admission must be pre-booked online.

Guided tours – Adults €8; concessions. Guided tours last 50 minutes.

“The Mess” Café is open from 10.00 am to 4.00 pm Monday-Friday only.

Royal Hibernian Academy

Royal Hibernian Academy

The Royal Hibernian Academy is an artist based and artist orientated institution dedicated to developing the public’s appreciation and understanding of traditional and innovative approaches to the visual arts. The Academy achieves its objectives through its exhibition, education and collection programmes.

The Academy has five galleries. Three on the first floor are dedicated to curated exhibitions of Irish and international art: The main gallery space comes to some 6000 sq.ft. The other two galleries have 1500 sq.ft each.

The Ashford Gallery is situated on the ground floor (1100 sq.ft.) and provides a service to artists who do not have commercial representation in Dublin. It is designed to introduce artists to the collecting public and prove their commercial viability.

The Dr Tony Ryan Gallery is also on the ground floor and is dedicated to showing private and public collections, including from time to time selections from the RHA Collection.

The RHA originated when artists from the Society of Artists in Ireland petitioned the Viceroy in the late 1700s for the opportunity to exhibit their works annually. A Royal Charter was finally granted in 1821, and the deeds were received in 1823, giving the Academy independence from all other institutions.

The RHA is made up of 30 Members, 15 Senior Members and 10 Associate Members, all of whom are professional artists. The disciplines of Architecture, Painting, Sculpture and Print (including Photography) are all represented by the Academy’s broad national membership.

In 1825 Francis Johnson, the esteemed Georgian architect, endowed the Academy with a house and Exhibition Gallery in Lower Abbey Street, which was subsequently destroyed by fire during the Easter Rising of 1916. The Academy was without a permanent premises until 1939, when it acquired the house and garden of 15 Ely Place.

In 1970 Matthew Gallagher of the Gallagher Group offered to provide the RHA with a complete gallery on the site at Ely Place. The new gallery was finally opened to the public in 1985 for the 156th Annual Exhibition, the first the RHA had held on its own premises for 69 years.

Opening Hours
Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Friday, Saturday: 11.00 am – 5.00 pm
Wednesday late night opening: 11.00 am – 8.00 pm
Sunday: 12.00 pm – 5.00 pm

Royal Hibernian Academy, Gallagher Gallery, 15 Ely Place, Dublin 2

Tel: 01- 661 2558

Admission free

For what’s on now, see

Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland

Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland

The Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland was founded in 1849 (as the Kilkenny Archaeological Society). It was granted a Royal Charter in 1869. Its early aims included the conservation of endangered buildings (e.g. Clonmacnoise, Jerpoint Cistercian Abbey). It pioneered a comprehensive effort to photograph the antiquities of Ireland.

RSAI is actively involved in conserving Ireland’s heritage. It maintains a library and archival collections, provides lectures and organises excursions, and publishes a widely respected Journal. The June “summer soirée” and winter Monday evening talks are event highlights. Guests are welcome to attend these events.

The Society is generally open to members only (€75 p.a.). Members are entitled to use the Society’s library, participate in all Society events, and receive a copy of the Journal every year.

The restored library houses a collection of books, journals and archive materials documenting Ireland’s human and built heritage (10,000 printed works;100,000 photographs and drawings). The library is open to readers on Thursdays and Fridays (10.00 am-1.00 pm and 2.00 pm-5.00 pm).

The house has fine meeting rooms overlooking Merrion Square to the front and a restored Georgian garden to the rear (this is the only surviving Georgian townhouse garden in Dublin city, fully restored to its original late 18th-century splendour).

63 Merrion Square, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 6761749

The RSAI facilities are open to non-members by appointment only. 

Teeling Whiskey Distillery Tour

Teeling Whiskey Distillery

Dublin has traditionally been the heart of the Irish whiskey industry. During Walter Teeling’s time (the late 1700s), there were over 37 different distilleries in Dublin. The Liberties area of Dublin in particular was recognised as the epicentre for Dublin whiskey and was dubbed the ‘Golden Triangle’ due to the number of distilleries clustered in a one mile radius.

During the 19th century Dublin whiskey became globally recognised as the premier whiskey in the world. Renowned for its “smooth” and unique “character”, it sold at a premium to all other types of whiskey. As a result of this success, some of the largest distilleries in the world emerged from these small craft Dublin distillers. Unfortunately, when Irish whiskey fell on hard times, so did distilling in Dublin and the last still ran cold in 1976.

The Teeling Family has been crafting Irish whiskey since 1782. Walter Teeling originally set up a craft distillery on Marrowbone Lane, Dublin, starting a 230-year family tradition. Jack and Stephen Teeling currently carry on the family’s legacy. The Teeling Whiskey Distillery is the first new distillery in Dublin in over 125 years and is bringing the craft back into the heart of Dublin city centre. Located in the ancient market square of Newmarket, an area long associated with brewing and distilling, the new distillery is a three copper pot still operation, reviving the traditional style of Dublin whiskey distillation.

Teeling whiskeys stay true to the family tradition of quality over quantity. From grain to bottle, many hands are involved in the small batch production process to ensure that each bottle of Teeling is crafted to the highest standard possible. Through taking more time and using innovative cask maturation techniques, the young team of craftsmen is producing small batch bottlings of unique Irish whiskeys. The goal is to retain the drinkability of Irish whiskey but bring in new and interesting flavours to complement the naturally smooth and sweet taste of Irish whiskey.

Open to visitors since June 2015, the Teeling Whiskey Distillery has already won the “Experience of the Year” award from the Luxury Travel Guide. The Distillery also houses a retail space and café.

Tours, including tastings, daily between 10.00 am and 5.40 pm (tours every 20 minutes). Last tour at 5.40 pm. Phoenix Café open 7.30 am – 5.00 pm.

13-17 Newmarket, Dublin 8

Tel: 01-5310888

€15 per person including whiskey & cocktail tasting. Book online in advance to make sure of your place on the tour.

Tenement Museum

Tenement Museum (14 Henrietta Street)

Dating from the 1720s, Henrietta Street in Dublin’s North inner city is the most intact collection of early to mid-18th century aristocratic townhouses in Ireland. These vast houses were divided into tenements from the 1870s to the 1890s to house the city’s working poor.

Built as a townhouse for the members of Dublin’s ruling elite, 14 Henrietta Street was divided into 19 tenement flats in 1877, with some 100 people living under its roof by 1911. It remained a tenement house until the last families left in the late 1970s.

14 Henrietta Street tells the story of the building’s shifting fortunes, from family home and power base to courthouse; from barracks to its final incarnation as a tenement. The stories of the house and street mirror the story of Dublin and her citizens.

14 Henrietta Street seeks to help visitors deepen their understanding of the history of urban life and housing in Ireland, through people and memory. Taking the stories, personal experiences and objects of former residents of the tenements, coupled with new ongoing social and architectural history research, the Museum gathers, interprets and preserves Dublin’s tenement history.

Why tenement living developed in Dublin – After the Acts of Union were passed in Great Britain and Ireland in 1801, all power shifted to London and most politically and socially significant residents were drawn from Georgian Dublin to Regency London. Dublin and Ireland entered a period of economic decline, exacerbated by the return of soldiers and sailors at the end of the Napoleonic Wars. The rise of the cotton mills of Lancashire had a negative impact on the Irish poplin industry.

For a time, Henrietta Street was occupied by lawyers. Dublin’s population swelled by about 36,000 in the years after the Great Famine, and taking advantage of the rising demand for cheap housing for the poor, landlords and their agents began to carve their Georgian townhouses into multiple dwellings for the city’s new residents.

Houses such as 14 Henrietta Street underwent significant change in use – from having been a single-family house with specific areas for masters, mistresses, servants, and children, they were now filled with families (often one family to a room,  the room itself divided up into two or three smaller rooms – a kitchen, a living room, and a bedroom). Entire families crammed into small living spaces and shared an outside tap and lavatory with dozens of others in the same building.

For the safety of visitors, groups must be small, with no more that 15 on a tour at a time. Tour Guides accompany you through three floors of the house and its many stories, told through the walls of the house itself, recreated immersive rooms, sound and film.

As the building dates from the late 1720s with minimal intervention in the structure, some spaces are small and the steps of the original back stairs are uneven and steep. It’s advised that you wear comfortable shoes, and perhaps dress in layers, as parts of the house can be a little cold.

14 Henrietta Street recognised in European and Irish awards – The conservation of a  former tenement house at 14 Henrietta Street in Dublin’s north inner city was named Best Conservation/Restoration Project, and won the Special RIAI Jury Award at the prestigious annual RIAI Irish Architecture Awards.

Tour times
Wed-Sat: 10.00 am; 11.00 am; 12.00 pm; 1.00 pm; 2.00 pm; 3.00 pm; 4.00 pm
Sunday: 12.00 pm; 1.00 pm; 2.00 pm; 3.00 pm; 4.00 pm
Monday & Tuesday: Closed
Tours last approximately 75 minutes; pre-booking is pretty essential.

14 Henrietta Street (Tenement Museum)
14 Henrietta Street, Dublin D01 HH34

Tel: 01- 524 0383

Adults  €9; concessions 

Photo courtesy of Wikipedia (Sheila1988 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0,



Trinity College Zoological Museum

Zoological Museum (Trinity College)

Getting your picture taken through the jaws of a shark and feeling the might of a crocodile’s teeth are just some of the thrills on offer at Trinity College’s Zoological Museum. This 250-year old collection houses 25,000 specimens. Despite over two centuries of disruption and change, much of the collection remains intact and provides a vital undergraduate teaching resource for the Department of Zoology.

The Zoological Museum holds some of the most amazing creatures on the planet.

  • Don’t miss the tragic tale of Ireland’s Last Great Auk. Extinct since 1844, only a handful of these beautiful birds survive in museums today.
  • Meet Prince Tom, the ‘Royal’ elephant who travelled the world with Queen Victoria’s son, Prince Alfred.
  • Have your photograph taken through the jaws of a Great White Shark.
  • Admire the world-renowned delicate glass artworks of sea creatures crafted by father and son team Leopold and Rudolf Blaschka in the 19th century.
  • Keep clear of the giant Gavial – Is it as fierce as it looks?
  • Hold one of the world’s strangest teeth – What animal do you think it’s from?
  • Look out for the Tasmanian wolf – Is it really extinct?

Open Mon-Sun 10.30 am-4.00 pm (1 June to 31 August only).

Zoological Museum, School of Natural Sciences, Department of Zoology, Trinity College, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01-8961366.

Admission €3.