I Heart My City: Rachel’s Dublin

After university, New Zealander Rachel Farndon tried out the 9-to-5 world and decided it wasn’t enough. So she sold everything she owned and bought a one-way ticket to Ireland. She’s been seeing the sights — from County Kerry to Dublin — for a year now (and chronicling her exploits on her personal blog), with no plans to leave. Take a look at Dublin through the eyes of a woman who says she “can’t possibly praise it higher without looking ridiculous!”

Follow Rachel’s story on Twitter @thereforareason.

Dublin is My City 

See the swans at St. Stephen's Green. (Photograph by Rachel Farndon)

The first place I take a visitor from out of town is on a stroll through central Dublin, along the River Liffey and up Grafton Street to St. Stephen’s Green.

When I crave adrenaline I always go to Croke Park, Dublin’s Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) Stadium to catch a game of hurling, the fastest field sport in the world. You can also get a roof top tour — if you’re brave enough!

To escape my flatmate practicing the piano I head to Grafton Street to check out the street performers.

If I want to see one of the finest collections of manuscripts, books, and papyri from the earliest periods of human history I go to the Chester Beatty Library. The bequest of Sir Arthur Chester Beatty is the most remarkable testament to a lifetime of study and travel I can imagine.

For complete quiet, I can hide away in the Phoenix Park. It’s easy to get lost in the largest inner city park in Europe. It is even larger than New York’s Central Park as well as being home to over 500 free roaming deer!

If you come to my city, get your picture taken with a pint of Guinness in your hand in Temple Bar. Even better, at the Temple Bar in Temple Bar.

Get your picture taken at Temple Bar. (Photograph by Heather Rai, Flickr)

If you have to order one thing off the menu from any pub in town it has to be the Beef and Guinness Casserole, which is thicker and creamier than Irish stew. Don’t worry if you don’t like Guinness; you’ll like this.

The Georges Street Arcade is my one-stop shop for great chic, hip, and opportunity shopping.

Locals know to skip the Guinness Storehouse and check out the Jameson Distillery instead. Of course, if you have time, go to both. The Storehouse is always crowded and full of tourists, so you’re better off visiting any pub if you want to enjoy your drink!

When I’m feeling cash-strapped I pack a picnic and head to any of Dublin’s parks. Dublin has 2,000 hectares of green space!

For a huge splurge I go to Kilkenny stores for the best of Irish design.

Photo ops in my city include Temple Bar, the O’Connell Street Bridge and Daniel O’Connell statue, the Spire, and the Samuel Beckett Bridge. The best vantage points are from any of the seventeen bridges across the River Liffey.

If my city were a celebrity it’d be Bono. Enough said.

The ultra-modern Samuel Beckett Bridge. (Photograph by Musical Photo Man, Flickr)

The most random thing about my city is that it has its own language! In Dublinese, ‘your man’ can mean that guy over there, the bartender, your friend who is a man — in fact any man can be your man whether he’s yours or not!

My city has the most charismatic men with some of the cheesiest pick-up lines.

My city has the most confident women. A mid-winter night on the town explains why!

In my city, an active day outdoors involves hiking in the Wicklow Mountains forty minutes south of the city centre. Try walking the Wicklow Way to Glendalough, around the Upper Lake and through the woods.

My city’s best museum is (the archaeology section of) the National Museum of Ireland on Kildare Street. Here you will find bog bodies and Viking weapons — and can feast your eyes on Celtic gold.

Killiney Hill, on the outskirts of Dublin. (Photograph by William Murphy, Flickr)

My favorite jogging/walking route is over Killiney Hill in South Dublin, which looks north towards the city and south across to County Wicklow, then down the hill and along the very pebbly Killiney Beach. I guarantee that it will give your calves an unbelievable work out.

For a night of dancing, go to Irish House Party for dinner and live Irish dancing. You won’t find the locals here, unless they’re performing, but everyone should witness this once. Or, for live music, check out Whelan’s. There is always something happening here — from international artists to local bands.

 

Charlies 5 is the spot for late-night eats, where greasy Chinese and Thai food is available in the wee hours of the morning. Don’t do this too often or your arteries will start to scream! You’re probably better off visiting Tesco.

To find out what’s going on at night and on the weekends, read the events page on VisitDublin.com (they also have a smartphone app).

You can tell a lot about my city from spending half an hour on O’Connell Street. The bullet holes from the 1916 Easter Rising are still visible in the pillars of the General Post Office, and street vendors try to sell their wares. This is a street where the people with a purpose walk quickly and those without one will be there all day.

The General Post Office still shows scars from the Easter Rising. (Photograph by FarelGab, Flickr)

You can tell if someone is from my city if they have a low-pitched Irish accent that you can’t quite understand and you’re not sure if they want to fight or are only joking.

In the spring you should get photos in a field of daffodils and dodge the rain.

In the summer you should hit the beach in Bray or Killiney while dodging the rain.

In the fall you should kick up the falling leaves in the Phoenix Park and dodge the rain.

In the winter you should sled down Killiney Hill in a kayak. Probably in the rain.

A hidden gem in my city is the Dun Laoghaire market, which is held on Sunday mornings at the People’s Park. It’s a great place to pick up some delicious home cooked food, fresh produce, and crafts.

For a great breakfast joint try Harry’s Café Bar in Dun Laoghaire. So delicious. And you can follow up your food with a walk along the pier.

Don’t miss the Temple Bar TradFest in January. Now in it’s 8th year, the tradfest is one of the biggest and best Irish music and culture celebrations in Ireland.

Ruins on the Hill of Slane in County Meath. (Photograph by Angelo Failla, Flickr)

Just outside my city, you can visit the Wicklow Mountains National Park, the seaside towns of Bray and Howth, and the prehistoric monuments of the Boyne Valley.

The best way to see my city is on foot. After the introduction of the one-way system, it’s the easiest to visit all of inner city Dublin’s hotspots. Don’t let the rain put you off: grab an umbrella, rug up, and go!

If my city were a pet it would be a silly dog who doesn’t realize he is too big for that gap and tries anyway.

If I didn’t live in a city, I’d live in the countryside of County Kerry.

The best book about my city is Dubliners by James Joyce for something traditional and Sushi For Beginners by Marian Keyes for modern chick lit.

When I think about my city, the song that comes to mind is ”The Ballad of Ronnie Drew” because it’s about an iconic Dubliner. The story of the song itself is a bit of a shambles, but it has been well executed by the collective efforts of a mass of well-known Irish musicians.

An absolute must in Dublin! (Photograph by Rachel Farndon)

If you have kids, you won’t want to miss the Dublin Zoo. They are well planned and there is lot to see. It also helps that the zoo is in largest inner city park in Europe. There no better place to burn off all their steam!

A real, proper, authentic pint of Guinness could only happen in my city. Tóg go bog é (relax and take your time) and don’t drink the foam!

My city should be featured on your cover or website because it is a vibrant city finding its footing after the global financial crisis. There is still plenty going on and the resilience of the Irish has come through making their songs and stories more powerful than ever.

Comments

  1. Amy Mckinnon
    Ballinspittle, Kinsale, Ireland
    October 24, 2012, 4:45 pm

    Choice as Rachel! Ka Pai, Keep up the good work!

  2. Trish Connor
    Killiney
    October 25, 2012, 12:04 pm

    I just realised how much I didn’t know about where I live – well done Rachel

  3. Dave Walsh Photography
    Ireland
    October 26, 2012, 10:42 am

    That’s not Newgrange, that’s the Hill of Slane!

    • Leslie Trew Magraw
      October 30, 2012, 8:46 am

      Thanks for pointing out our mistake. I’ve fixed the error. Cheers!

  4. John Loftus
    Limerick City
    October 27, 2012, 9:48 am

    A bit of a flowery view of both Dublin & Ireland.One very important point you seemed to have left out,how terribly expensive things are,especially in Dublin.

  5. Jacob Marlfoyle
    New York
    July 19, 2013, 2:50 am

    My Dad was Irish & a big Guiness drinker so this bought back some great fond memories for me! Not from Dublin, but if I ever get the chance to go there I will definitely be checking out the Guiness factory, & following in your footsteps to see the other cool places you’ve visited. Great pics as always, thanks!