Places to visit: Dublin A to Z

Dublin City Hall

Dublin City Hall

Dublin City Hall was built between 1769 and 1779 (designed by Thomas Cooley). It is the headquarters of Dublin City Council and is the place where the Lord Mayor and City Councillors hold meetings to discuss present and future plans for Dublin.

City Hall was originally built as the Royal Exchange and was used by the merchants of Dublin as a financial centre until Dublin Corporation bought the building in 1851. It was renovated and re-opened in 1852. The building underwent a major refurbishment programme in 1998-2000 and has been restored to its former 18th century glory.

Situated in an historic quarter of Dublin, City Hall is neighbour to Christ Church Cathedral and Dublin Castle. The vaults of the Hall house an exhibition entitled “The Story of the Capital”, a comprehensive account of the city’s history.

Noteworthy features of the building are the magnificent Hall and Rotunda (an elegant space with a circular dome, like a small-scale version of similar buildings in Rome); statues of Daniel O’Connell, Thomas Davis, Henry Grattan, Charles Lucas and Thomas Drummond; and a set of twelve paintings representing scenes from the history and mythology of the city. There is a detailed brochure available in the lobby explaining the various art works.

Open Mon–Sat: 10.00 am-5.15 pm.
Closed Sun, Bank Holidays, St Patrick’s Day, Good Friday, 24-26 Dec & 1 Jan.

Normally a self-conducted tour. Tours for groups take place by prior arrangement.

www.dublincity.ie/dublincityhall

Dame Street, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 222 2204.

Admission free.

Dublin Civic Trust

Dublin Civic Trust

Dublin Civic Trust’s former headquarters is the only surviving Georgian building on historic Castle Street. Now fully restored to its former glory, this handsome merchant town house and shop is one of the last buildings of its type and period in Dublin to remain intact, and was until recently home to the Dublin Civic Trust’s offices and exhibition centre. No. 4 Castle Street is now in private hands.

Established in 1992 as an educational trust with charitable status, the Trust is an independent organisation that works to recognise and protect the city’s architectural heritage. It is dedicated to the principles of building identification, sensitive repair with minimal intervention, and the appropriate use of the city’s historic building stock.

Through conservation courses and seminars, the Trust educates the public about the resource value of period buildings. It promotes best practice for the repair and maintenance of historic buildings. It campaigns for the sensitive development and enhancement of Dublin’s historic city core in a manner that maximises the unique and irreplaceable resource value of Dublin’s historic building stock, streets and spaces.

The Trust produces major policy documents and undertakes consultancy work. It publishes the popular “Period Houses, A Conservation Guidance Manual”. Its series of books on the secondary streets of Dublin is also well regarded.

Since its establishment, the Trust has engaged in many projects relating to the built heritage of the city, including:

  • Recording structures on many of Dublin’s principal and secondary streets, such as Henrietta Street, Capel Street, Dawson Street and Aungier Street
  • Completely restoring five historic buildings (some in danger of demolition) through the Trust’s Revolving Fund; and reinstating additional buildings in conjunction with Dublin City Council
  • Compiling Architectural Conservation Area policies/inventories for Dublin City Council – O’Connell Street & Environs, and Thomas Street & Environs in the Liberties
  • Publishing historical and advisory leaflets on building typologies particular to residential streets in the Liberties area, and hosting lectures about caring for period homes
  • Publishing many inventory and policy documents on built heritage (e.g. an Inventory of Dublin Historic Street Paving and Furniture)
  • An evaluation of the historic core of Dublin as defined by its Georgian squares and major connecting commercial streets, commissioned by Dublin City Business Association.

Current projects of importance include an action plan for historic Thomas Street in The Liberties for Dublin City Council, with an emphasis on maximising its historic building stock; a study of the gable-fronted house tradition in Dublin of the 17th and early 18th centuries; and assessing options for saving a stretch of historic streetscape of North King Street that closes the vista of the north side of Smithfield.

Dublin Civic Trust regularly publishes books, pamphlets and information leaflets on the built heritage of Dublin. Its popular series of books on the secondary streets of Dublin brings the reader through the origins of each street, the history and architecture of their historic building stock, a full building inventory, and a vision for improvement. Other publications focus on specific topics of historical and architectural interest. You can buy these online.

Between 1992 and 2000, the Trust restored a number of historic buildings in the city – some of which were proposed for demolition – through the mechanism of a Building Conservation Revolving Fund. The Fund proved to be an innovative and cost effective method of saving and restoring endangered historic buildings in the city.

In total, five properties were restored by the Trust (Number 10 and 11 South Frederick Street, No. 21 Aungier Street, No. 4 Castle Street). The Trust was instrumental in saving further properties in conjunction with Dublin City Council such as the former City Weights and Measures on Harry Street and the rare mews buildings of Numbers 14 and 15 St. Stephen’s Green. The positive effects of the Fund went well beyond individual buildings, stimulating further improvements in key city centre streets such as South Frederick Street and Andrew Street.

To read a detailed account of the restoration of No. 4 Castle Street, see http://dublincivictrust.ie/building-projects/4-castle-street

www.dublincivictrust.ie

18 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7

Tel: 01 8749 681

Helen Dillon's Garden

Dublin Garden Trail

The picture above is of the much loved and much missed Helen Dillon’s Garden, closed permanently at the end of September 2016.

You may be interested in a number of not so well known Dublin area gardens which are described in detail on www.dublingardens.com.

The Dublin Garden Trail consists of Ireland’s most distinguished private gardens in the greater Dublin area – some of them world famous and others secret gems – whose discovery has been the highlight of many a Garden Tour.

The owners of these private gardens, most of which are not open to the public, would like to welcome groups to share their enthusiasm for and knowledge of their plants and designs at a time when they can see them at their best.

Ardán (www.dublingardens.com)

Corke Lodge (www.dublingardens.com)
Dower House (www.dublingardens.com)

June Blake’s Garden (www.dublingardens.com)
Knockrose (www.dublingardens.com)

Mornington Garden (www.dublingardens.com)
Trudder Grange Garden (www.dublingardens.com)
Tyrrelstown House (www.dublingardens.com)

Two members of the Dublin Garden Trail who have separate entries within the Dublin Places To Visit website are Hunting Brook Gardens and Mount Usher Gardens.

 

Dublin Writers Museum

Dublin Writers’ Museum

The idea of a Dublin Writers Museum was originated by the journalist and author Maurice Gorham (1902 – 1975), who proposed it to Dublin Tourism. Opened in November 1991 at 18 Parnell Square, the museum occupies an original eighteenth-century mansion. The Irish Writers’ Centre next door contains the meeting rooms and offices of the Irish Writers’ Union, the Society of Irish Playwrights, the Irish Children’s Book Trust and the Translators’ Association of Ireland. The basement beneath both houses is occupied by the Chapter One restaurant.

The Museum was established to promote interest, through its collection, displays and activities, in Irish literature as a whole and in the lives and works of individual Irish writers. Through its association with the Irish Writers’ Centre it provides a link with living writers and the international literary scene.

In the two Museum Rooms is presented a history of Irish literature from its beginnings up to recent times. The panels describe the various phases, movements and notable names, while the showcases and pictures illustrate the lives and works of individual writers. 

The Museum Collection contains many books, representing the milestones in the progress of Irish literature from Gulliver’s Travels to Dracula, The Importance of Being Earnest, Ulysses and Waiting for Godot. Most of these are first or early editions. 

Among the pens, pipes and typewriters there are some unusual personal possessions – Lady Gregory’s lorgnette, Austin Clarke’s desk, Samuel Beckett’s telephone, Mary Lavin’s teddy bear, Oliver Gogarty’s laurels and Brendan Behan’s union card. Also on view is Handel’s chair, used at the opening night of The Messiah.

The Gallery of Writers is a splendidly decorated room containing portraits and busts of Irish writers. The room is used for receptions, exhibitions and special occasions. At the top of the grand staircase, the Gorham Library is notable for its Stapleton ceiling.

Open Mon-Sat 9.45 am–4.45 pm; Sun/Bank Holidays 11.00 am – 4.30 pm. Phone in advance to confirm Christmas/New Year period opening times. 

www.writersmuseum.com

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

The Lonely Planet website’s review is useful – www.lonelyplanet.com

18 Parnell Square North, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 872 2077.

Adults €8; concessions.

Dublin Zoo

Dublin Zoo *****

Ireland’s most popular family attraction (over one million visitors a year). Opened in 1831, Dublin Zoo is one of the world’s oldest and most popular zoos. It has been transformed in recent decades into a 28 hectare park of gardens, lakes and natural habitats for over 400 animals. Many are rare species and their survival in the wild is under threat; many of the zoo’s animals are part of international breeding programmes for endangered species. The African Plains area is spectacular, a facsimile of the grassy savanna and open plains of the natural wild. See giraffe and zebras wander while the hunting dogs prowl. Look out too for the rhino, the ostrich and the chimpanzees.

Kids rate this venue a 5-star experience.

Open Mon–Sun. Jan: 9.30 am–4.30 pm; Feb: 9.30 am–5.00 pm; Mar – Sept: 9.30 am–6.00 pm; Oct: 9.30 pm–5.30 pm; Nov & Dec: 9.30 am–4.00 pm. Closed December 25 and 26. [The African Plains close thirty minutes before the listed closing times]. 

www.dublinzoo.ie

Phoenix Park, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 474 8900.

Adults €20; concessions. There is a slight discount for booking online.

Dublinia

Dublinia ****

Dublinia is a museum in which Viking and Medieval Dublin are re-created through life-size reconstructions.

Viking Dublin Exhibition:  See what life was like on board a Viking warship. Learn about long and challenging voyages, weaponry and the skills of being a Viking warrior. Try on Viking clothes, become a slave and stroll down a noisy street. Visit a smoky and cramped Viking house, learn the Viking runic alphabet and hear their poetry and sagas.

Medieval Dublin Exhibition: From Strongbow to the Reformation, experience the re-created sights, sounds and smells of this busy city. Learn of warfare, crime and punishment, death and disease. Visit a medieval fair, a rich merchant’s kitchen and a bustling medieval street.

History Hunters Exhibition: Learn how archaeology works with history and science to piece together the jigsaws of our ancestors’ lives and lifestyles. See genuine Viking and Medieval artefacts, including those of a medieval skeleton found in Dublin (courtesy of the National Museum of Ireland). Hear the languages of old Dublin and explore the city’s earliest maps. Visit the lab and learn how bugs and dirt can be the history hunter’s gold.

St Michael’s Tower: Dublinia’s late seventeenth century viewing tower belonged to the church of St Michael the Archangel, which once stood at the site now occupied by Dublinia. The medieval tower has 96 steps leading to a panoramic view of Dublin. Access to the viewing tower is weather dependent.

To generate atmosphere, the walking route through Dublinia is a little narrow so the attraction is less enjoyable at peak periods (especially when large tour groups may be in attendance). For this reason, visiting the site off peak is recommended.

Open Mar-Sept: 10.00 am- 6.30 pm; Oct-Feb: 10.00 am-5.30 pm. Closed 24-26 Dec.

www.dublinia.ie

St. Michael’s Hill, Christchurch, Dublin 8.

Tel: 01 679 4611.

Adults €12; concessions.

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory, opened in 1785, was the first building in Ireland specifically constructed for scientific research. Ireland’s greatest mathematician/scientist, William Rowan Hamilton, lived and worked here.

Originally part of Trinity College Dublin, it was purchased by the state in 1947 when the School of Cosmic Physics was established (as part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies).

The Observatory is used nowadays mainly for public outreach,  workshops/conferences, and as visitor accommodation. Rooms can also be hired by external parties.

Open Nights are held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month during the winter months (October-March). Weather permitting, visitors can view celestial objects through the historic Grubb Telescope. There are also audio-visual presentations, lectures on a wide variety of topics in astronomy, and question and answer sessions. Open nights are free of charge.

From time to time Dunsink Observatory holds a special evening for parents and children who would like to meet a real astronomer and explore the night sky together. This family event begins at 7.30 pm with a short presentation, followed by live stargazing (weather permitting) and a question and answer session.

School/College trips to Dunsink Observatory can be arranged if booked beforehand. These trips can be organised for day or evening time.

www.dunsink.dias.ie

Dunsink Observatory, Castleknock, Dublin 15.

Re Open Nights, phone Hilary O’Donnell at 087-6294966 or email hod@cp.dias.ie

For general queries, phone 01 4406656.

EPIC

EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum

You won’t find leprechauns or pots of gold here, but you’ll discover that what it means to be Irish expands far beyond the borders of Ireland through the stories of Irish emigrants who became scientists, politicians, poets, artists and even outlaws all over the world.

At EPIC, which was recently awarded Europe’s Leading Tourist Attraction at the World Travel Awards, discover Ireland from the outside in and find out why saying “I’m Irish” is one of the biggest conversation starters, no matter where you are.

EPIC tells the moving and unforgettable stories of those who left the island of Ireland, and how they influenced and shaped the world. EPIC embraces the past and the future with 1,500 years of Irish history and culture housed in its atmospheric vaults.

The world’s only fully digital museum, experience this breath-taking story in state-of- the-art interactive galleries, complete with touch screens, motion sensor quizzes and a feast of powerful audio and video that bring Irish history to life. Watch characters from the past tell one-of-a-kind tales of adventure and perseverance, conflict and discovery, belief and community.

https://epicchq.com

EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum, Unit 1, The CHQ Building, Custom House Quay, Dublin 1

Tel: 01-9060861

Adults €16.50; concessions. 

Open 7 days a week from 10.00 am to 6.45 pm (last entry 5.00 pm). Closed Dec 24-26. Late opening on Thursday evenings in July, August and September. 

EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum is a self-guided visit.

Adjacent to EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum is the Irish Family History Centre, a way for visitors to discover their family story and explore their Irish heritage. The Centre allows visitors to sit with a genealogy expert for a 15-minute consultation and use interactive display screens to engage and uncover more about their Irish roots. Entrance costs €12.50. The Irish Family History Centre has no connection with EPIC – the Irish Emigration Museum. 

 

Farmleigh House

Farmleigh House ****

Farmleigh is an estate of 78 acres located in Dublin’s Phoenix Park. Owned by the State, it provides accommodation for visiting dignitaries & guests of the nation, hosts high level Government meetings, and is also available to be enjoyed by the public.

Farmleigh remains a unique representation of its heyday, the Edwardian period, when wealthy industrialists had replaced landowners as the builders of large mansions in Ireland. Their tastes were eclectic, mixing a variety of architectural styles and decors.

Edward Cecil Guinness, first Earl of Iveagh, the great-grandson of Arthur Guinness, built Farmleigh around a smaller Georgian house in the 1880’s. Many of the artworks and furnishings he collected for Farmleigh remain in the house on loan from the Guinness family to the State. The Benjamin Iveagh collection of rare books, bindings and manuscripts is held  in the Library.

The extensive pleasure grounds are a wonderful collection of Victorian and Edwardian ornamental features with walled and sunken gardens, scenic lakeside walks and a range of plants that provide both visual and horticultural interest throughout the seasons. The Estate also boasts a working farm with a herd of Kerry Black cows.

House Tours
Access to Farmleigh House is by guided tour, and includes selected rooms on the ground floor. Guided tours of the House are available on a first come, first serve basis from 10.00 am to 5.30 pm (last entry at 4.30 pm). Tours run every hour (usually at a quarter past the hour) and last approximately 45 minutes. Each tour is strictly limited to twenty-five people and tickets are issued on a first-come-first-served basis.

The grounds and estate are open all year round from 10.00 am-5.30 pm.

www.farmleigh.ie

www.heritageireland.ie/en/dublin/farmleighhouseandestate/

Phoenix Park, Dublin 15

Tel: 01 815 5914

House tour €8; concessions

Four Courts

Four Courts

The iconic site where the country’s legal system was originally housed under one roof (built in the late 18th century). Almost completely demolished during the Irish civil war (1922). Noted for the Round Hall and the Dome. Location of the Supreme Court, the High Court, the District Court, and the Law Library.

There are no heritage tours available but visitors can wander around (Mon-Fri 9.00 am-6.00 pm). Visitors are also welcome to go into courtrooms and observe most cases. You cannot go into courtrooms where a case is being heard in camera (i.e. in private).

Before you make a visit, look up the Legal Diary section of the Four Courts website (www.courts.ie) to find out what cases are listed for hearing.

Groups are welcome to visit the Criminal Courts of Justice on a pre-arranged guided basis. The space available in courtrooms for members of the public is limited. Courtrooms are often crowded and it may be difficult to follow the proceedings without advance information.

Group visits include an opportunity to discuss the operation of the courts with a practising barrister. In addition, second level student groups can participate in a mock criminal trial playing the parts of judge, barrister, solicitor, accused, witness and juror. The School Visit Programme is booked for months in advance and sees thousands of second level students visiting the Criminal Courts of Justice every year. A programme for third level students provides Irish and overseas students with an opportunity to meet a judge for a Q&A session.

More about the Four Courts

Inn’s Quay, Dublin 7.

Information Office – Tel: 01 888 6459. General enquiries – 01 888 6000.