Places to visit: Dublin A to Z

Airfield Estate

Airfield Estate

In 1893, a successful Dublin solicitor named Trevor Overend purchased an 18th century farmhouse in Dundrum, Co. Dublin. The property was eventually inherited by his two daughters, Letitia and Naomi Overend. They lived there all their lives and prior to their death they set up the Airfield Trust, so that the estate would be kept intact for educational and recreational purposes.

The Overend ladies were well known for their prize-winning Jersey herd, named after characters from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. They were regular prize winners at the RDS Spring Show. Their life and times can be appreciated via the Airfield House exhibition. The lasting effects of their fundraising and charity work for St John’s Ambulance brigade and Children’s Sunshine Home can be seen through an impressive collection of photographs, diaries and press clippings. They were also ladies who knew how to enjoy themselves, as evidenced by the memorabilia they gathered from their travels. Both sisters were also very interested in gardening.

The Airfield farm, gardens, restaurant and heritage experience offer visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy and learn about food, farming, gardening, history and heritage in a natural and relaxed environment.

Airfield farm is the life blood of the estate, supplying the Overends restaurant with food and the gardens with fertiliser. Two farmers are on hand to guide visitors through the workings of the farm, from daily milking to egg collecting, mucking out and feeding. The new farmyard includes livestock housing and stables and allows easy visitor access to the animals, the milking parlour and dairy kitchen.

Throughout the year specialised events like lambing, calving and shearing highlight what is typically going on in farms around the country. Airfield is a working farm with a milking Jersey herd, as well as sheep, pigs, chickens and donkeys. The farm has 50 laying hens including Rhode Island Red Hybrids and fancy fowl such as Legbars and Arucanas.

The gardens at Airfield have been re-designed by the award winning landscape designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd. There is a refurbished walled garden and a tea garden. The freshly designed New Food Garden is a place where Airfield shares its commitment to the production and consumption of local, seasonal home grown food. The vineyard is an interesting addition to an Irish kitchen garden as is the display of native Irish apple trees.

The display garage for vintage cars is a fine setting for Letitia’s 1927 Rolls Royce, Naomi’s Austin Tickford and Lily’s Peugeot Quadrilette.

Heritage tours of the family house, garage, gardens and farm daily from Wed-Sun at 11.30 am and 2.30 pm (check for availability). Animal feeding daily at 3.30 pm. Cows milked daily at 10.30 am.

Opening Hours
Sept-June: Mon-Sun 9.30 am-5.00 pm
July & Aug: Mon-Sun 9.30 am-6.00 pm
Restaurant Mon-Fri 9.00 am-4.00 pm (phone 01-9696641) [Sat/Sun/Bank Holidays 9.00 am-5.00 pm]

Closures can occur in January for essential site works and training.

www.airfield.ie

Overend Way, Dundrum, Dublin 14
Tel: 01-969 6666

Adults €10; concessions

Áras an Uachtaráin

Áras an Uachtaráin

Now the Residence of the President of Ireland, Áras an Uachtaráin, started as a modest brick house for the Phoenix Park Chief Ranger in 1751. It was subsequently acquired as an “occasional residence” for the Lords Lieutenants and gradually evolved to a large mansion. After Ireland gained independence, it was occupied by three Governors General between 1922 and 1937, prior to the first president Dr Douglas Hyde taking up residence there.

19th century architects Francis Johnston, Jacob Owen and Decimus Burton, and more recently, Raymond McGrath, as well as stuccodores Michael Stapleton and Bartholomew Cramillion, contributed to its gradual expansion, gardens and interiors.

Open Saturdays only. Guided tour provided.
Summer: 10.15 am-4.00 pm
Winter: 10.30 am-3.30 pm
Usually closed for 2-3 Saturdays over the Christmas/New Year period.

Tickets are issued at the Phoenix Park Visitor Centre on Saturdays on a first-come, first-served basis. Advance bookings are not permitted.

www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/arasanuachtarain/

Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 6770095

Admission free.

 

Arbour Hill Cemetery

Arbour Hill Military Cemetery **

The military cemetery at Arbour Hill is the last resting place of 14 of the executed leaders of the insurrection of 1916. Among those buried there are Patrick Pearse, James Connolly and Major John Mc Bride. The leaders were executed in Kilmainham and then their bodies were transported to Arbour Hill, where they were buried.

The graves are located under a low mound on a terrace of Wicklow granite in what was once the old prison yard. The gravesite is surrounded by a limestone wall on which their names are inscribed in Irish and English. On the prison wall opposite the gravesite is a plaque with the names of other people who gave their lives in 1916.

The adjoining Church of the Sacred Heart, which is the prison chapel for Arbour Hill prison, is maintained by the Department of Defence. At the rear of the church lies the old cemetery, where lie the remains of British military personnel who died in the Dublin area in the 19th and early 20th century.

A doorway beside the 1916 memorial gives access to the Irish United Nations Veterans Association house and memorial garden.

Arbour Hill is located at the rear of the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, which currently houses an exhibition of 1916 related material.

Open all year
Mon-Fri 8.00 am-4.00 pm
Sat 11.00 am-4.00 pm
Sun 9.30 am-4.00 pm

www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/arbourhillcemetery/

Rear of National Museum, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7.

Tel: 01 821 3021.

Admission free.

Ardgillan Castle

Ardgillan Castle ***

Ardgillan is a large 18th Century country manor house (1738) built in extensive grounds overlooking the Irish Sea. The demesne features a walled garden and a rose garden. Within the house, the ground floor rooms and the kitchens are open to visitors (guided tour only).

Ardgillan Park is unique among Dublin’s regional parks for the magnificent views it enjoys of the coastline. A panorama, taking in Rockabill Lighthouse, Colt Church, Shenick and Lambay Islands may be seen, including Sliabh Foy, the highest of the Cooley Mountains, and the Mourne Mountains can be seen sweeping down to the sea.

Ardgillan Castle is open all year round. Access to the castle is by guided tour only. Tours are available on demand. The team of tour guides is experienced, with a great knowledge and understanding of the castle and its family occupants, The Taylors.

The Ardgillan Castle tour is approximately one hour long. Many periods of social history are brought to life with the focus firmly on the family who once lived in the castle. Visitors get the chance to explore the castle and enjoy the same atmosphere that the Taylors experienced from 1738, when the castle was built right up to 1962, when it was eventually sold.

The park area is the property of Fingal County Council and was opened to the public as a regional park in 1985. What was an arable farm was transformed  into a public park. Five miles of footpaths were provided throughout the demesne, some by opening old avenues, while others were newly constructed. They now provide a system of varied and interesting woodland, walks and vantage points from which to enjoy breath-taking views of the sea, the coastline and surrounding countryside. A sign-posted cycle route through the park means that cyclists can share the miles of walking paths with pedestrians.

House tours start at 11.00 am (available on demand; the last tour is 2 hours before closing time).

Ardgillan is tricky to find: it is 20 miles from the city centre near Balbriggan.

To see opening times of the park, gardens and house, please click here. http://ardgillancastle.ie/opening-times/

Admission to all the gardens is free. Guided tours of the Gardens are available for groups on a pre-booked basis.

www.ardgillancastle.ie

Tel: 01 8492212

House tour:  Adults €6.50; concessions

The Ark

The Ark *****

The Ark is a unique, purpose-built cultural centre in the heart of Dublin’s Temple Bar, where children aged 2 -12 can explore theatre, music, literature, art, film, dance and more. The programme of world class performances, exhibitions and creative workshops changes every few weeks.

The Ark has a very busy programme for schools, providing primary school children with an exciting and enjoyable encounter with high-quality culture. The Ark aims to allow children to nurture their imaginations in an inspirational yet structured setting.

The Ark was designed by Michael Kelly and Shane O’Toole of Group 91 Architects and has received awards and praise for its innovative and contemporary design. Housed on the site of a former Presbyterian Meeting House (1728), it incorporates the carefully restored front facade of the church. It extends to 1,500 square meters (16,000 square feet) and houses a theatre, a gallery and a workshop.

The Ark’s core space, the Theatre, has been built to intimate proportions so as not to intimidate children. The amphitheatre-shaped space also adds to the feeling of warmth, and ensures that the audience feels closely connected to the performances.

“The Ark was one of the great and certainly one of the most enduring initiatives to come out of the reinvention of Temple Bar. My children loved the place, so warm and welcoming and fairly fizzing with creativity, and now that they are too old for it – but then, is one ever too old for The Ark? – they recall it with vivid fondness. Long may this wonderful children’s centre thrive.” [John Banville, novelist and screenwriter]

“I had a fantastic experience working with all the people at The Ark on The Giant Blue Hand. I found them hugely enthusiastic, extremely committed and with the highest production values, as high, if not higher than in any other professional theatre company. I honestly feel this production at The Ark has raised the bar for children’s theatre in this country.” [Marina Carr, Playwright, ‘The Giant Blue Hand’]

The Ark booking office is open Monday-Friday from 10.00 am-4.00 pm, and one hour before performances and workshops on weekends and in the evening. Groups attending events at The Ark can claim one free ticket with every 10 purchased, and can reserve tickets without having to make full payment at the time of the reservation. Phone to discuss your group’s requirements.

www.ark.ie

http://ark.ie/events

The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, 11a Eustace St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 670 7788

Ticket price guide: School bookings €5 per child; exhibitions €5; workshops and concerts €11. Pre-booking absolutely essential.

Aviva Stadium

Aviva Stadium

Aviva Stadium is the home of Irish Rugby.

Did you know that Aviva Stadium is built on one of the oldest sports grounds in the world; or that the first ever international athletic meeting took place here in 1876? To learn more about 150 years of Irish sporting history, take a tour of the stadium and visit the press conference room, the home team dressing rooms, the players’ tunnel, the dugouts and more. Tours run 7 days a week but not when the stadium is in use for sporting fixtures.

Open 7 days Feb-Oct 10.00 am–4.00 pm; Nov-Jan 10.00 am-3.00 pm

There are tours on the hour every hour (go to the stadium tour office on Lansdowne Road). The stadium is closed on match days (check the website for details).

Closed  25-26 Dec.

www.avivastadium.ie/tours

Lansdowne Road, Dublin 4

Tel: 01-232 0878 or 01 238 2300

Adults €10; Concessions.

Bank of Ireland / House of Lords

Bank of Ireland (House of Lords)

Visit the former Irish Houses of Parliament. This was the world’s first purpose-built two-chamber parliament house. Built in 1729, the building was purchased in 1803 by the Bank of Ireland (in the wake of the Irish Parliament’s abolition in 1801).

Access may not be allowed to the House of Lords Chamber if the area is closed for a private function.

There is a guided tour on Tuesdays only at 10.30 am.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irish_Houses_of_Parliament

College Green, Dublin 2.

Tel: 07 662 39350

Admission free.

Blessington Street Basin

Blessington Street Basin ***

A picturesque walled park with a landscaped walk around a large lake and plenty of places to sit. Built in the early 19th century to provide a clean water supply to the north of the city. From the 1860’s on, the Basin’s water was used to supply distilleries in Bow Street (Jamesons) and John’s Lane (Powers) until 1976. Completely refurbished in 1993/94 and now a quiet city haven, providing a “secret garden” for local residents and visitors alike. Bird sanctuary on the central island.

Open every day 10.00 am; closing time varies in line with nightfall.

www.dublincity.ie

Blessington Street Basin, Dublin 7.

Tel: 01-2225278

Free admission.

Bull Island and Dollymount Strand

Bull Island, or more properly North Bull Island, is an island located in Dublin Bay, about 5 km long and 800 m wide, lying roughly parallel to the shore off Clontarf, Raheny, Kilbarrack, and facing Sutton. The island, with a sandy beach known as Dollymount Strand running its entire length, is a relatively recent result of human intervention in the bay.

In times past, Dublin Bay had a long-running problem with silting, notably at the mouth of the River Liffey. After years of primitive dredging, an attempt to maintain a clear channel more effectively got under way when in 1715 construction of the Great South Wall began. In 1761, work on a stone pier commenced, working from the Poolbeg Lighthouse back to shore.

It was during this period that the building of a North Bull Wall was also proposed. When it was seen that the South Wall did not solve the silting problem, the authorities responsible for Dublin Port commissioned studies on the matter. Captain William Bligh, of “Bounty” fame, surveyed Dublin Bay for the Ballast Board in 1801, highlighting the potential of the North Bull sandbank.

A wooden bridge, the first Bull Bridge, was erected in 1819 to facilitate the construction of a stone wall. Started in 1820, the Bull Wall was completed in 1825.

Over the succeeding 48 years, the natural tidal effects created by the walls deepened the entry to the Liffey from 1.8 m to 4.8 m. Much of the silt now scoured from the river course was deposited on the North Bull, and a true island began to emerge, with people venturing out to the growing beach. The volume of visitors was increased when horse tram services to Clontarf began in 1873, and when a full tram line to Howth opened 1900, with stops in the Clontarf / Dollymount area.

In 1889, the Royal Dublin Golf Club, then located at Sutton, received permission to lay out a golf course at the city end of the island, and construct a clubhouse.

The island is connected to the mainland by the Bull Bridge, today a one-lane wooden road bridge (with weight and height restrictions) at the southern (Clontarf/ Dollymount) end, and by a broad causeway at Raheny.

Most of North Bull Island is the property of Dublin City Council, the exception being North Bull Wall, the breakwater beyond it, and the wooden bridge to it, which are owned by the Dublin Port Company (and closed for a day each year to ensure that no right of way is created), and the Royal Dublin Golf Club links. The bulk of the island makes up the largest park owned by the city.

North Bull Island has the most designations of any site in the Republic of Ireland and its importance for nature conservation has been recognised since 1914. It was the first National Bird Sanctuary (1931). Since 1981 it has been designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the only biosphere reserve in the world located entirely in a capital city.

In 1988, it became a National Nature Reserve. It is of European Union importance, being a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive and a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive. It is also a National Special Amenity Area since 1995, one of 3 in the Republic of Ireland. This recognises both its outstanding beauty and nature conservation values.

Bird species on the island include pale-bellied brent geese, Eurasian curlews, Eurasian oystercatchers, grey plovers, northern shovellers, little egrets, reed buntings and little terns. There are six terrestrial mammal species on the island: brown rats, red foxes, field mice, Irish hares, hedgehogs and European rabbits. Common seals and grey seals are also found in the surrounding waters and can regularly be seen on the sand at low tide at the tip of the island near Howth.

The Island is a breeding site. It is also home to many species of plants including the bee orchid, pyramidal orchid, Marsh Helleborine, Bee orchid and common spotted orchids. There is an Interpretative Centre at the end of the causeway on the right hand side which has displays and information on the flora and fauna of the island.

Dollymount Strand, the 5 km beach on the island, is a popular walking and recreational area. Many people learned to drive on the firm flat sandy foreshore at low tide. Parking areas allow access for those who wish to sit in their cars and look out to sea watching the ships and ferries. The island has two golf courses, the more famous belonging to the Royal Dublin Golf Club, and the newer to St. Anne’s Golf Club.

This information has been adapted from the excellent Wikipedia article cited below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull_Island

Butlers Chocolate Experience

Butlers Chocolate Experience

What really goes on behind the doors of a working chocolate factory? Where does Butlers chocolate come from and how it is made? Would you like to learn about the different types of chocolate and how handcrafted Butlers Chocolate assortments, fudge and toffee, hot chocolate and the finest chocolate bars are created?

Find out by booking a guided tour at the Butlers Chocolate Experience, with plenty of chocolate tastings along the way. Watch the Chocolate Movie, wander around the Chocolate Museum, savour the aroma from the Chocolate Gallery and decorate your own chocolate novelty to bring home in the Chocolate Experience room.

Although the company was founded in 1932, the Butlers Irish Chocolates brand was not created till 1984. In 2011 Butlers Chocolates were named Food & Drink Exporter of the Year at the Irish Exporters Awards.

Tours generally run daily at 10.00 am, 12 noon and 3.30 pm Monday to Saturday and on Bank Holidays. Tour times can be subject to change on occasion. Please double check the official website booking calendar.

Please note that the factory itself does not operate at weekends or on bank holidays.

All bookings must be made in advance.

http://www.butlerschocolates.com/chocolateexperience/

Butlers Chocolates, Clonshaugh Business Park, Dublin 17

Tel: 01 6710599

Adults/children €13.50; get an extra 5% discount when you book online.