Quayside attractions along the river Liffey.
To those who are fully aware of my lifestyle choice, it comes as a surprise to some that no matter how far afield I have journeyed so far, why would I choose to neglect places much closer to home such as Wales and the Republic of Ireland? Well, an attempt to remedy that perception in no small measure was made by this 3-night booking of a city break in Dublin
, the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, and a late-night flight meant that the entire Dublin experience proper began on the Saturday morning, the day after my arrival. A stay at the well-equipped Cardiff Lane Maldron hotel in the quayside area saw me well catered-for, and fairly well situated too, and the aim of the trip ran parallel to the aims of previous European city breaks - that's to say, shop til you drop, seek out one or two pleasant eateries, and sample the best of what experiences the city can offer, both in terms of day and evening time activities.
Heavily flag-laden Irish pub in vibrant Temple Bar area.
Dublin is blessed with an efficient tram system (LUAS), which puts it on a par with the best of the Swiss cities in that respect, and the rail network (DART) allows for an easy escape route out of the confines of the city. The city centre is peppered with monuments, churches, pubs, shops and other key points of interest, although I tended to find that wandering around aimlessly, which constituted the main bulk of my last full (rainy) day there, seemed to be deceptive in that each unfamiliar-looking street somehow brought me back along a previously-trodden route, perhaps a by-product of unplanned meanderings. I made use of the DART network to transport me to the coastal port town of Dun Laoghaire
, which is equipped with a high street, a marina area, as well as the ferry port, and a 'World Culture Festival' which was taking place at the time of the visit was an added diversion.
Prominent building in Dun Laoghaire.
Back in Dublin, a trek across town brought me (eventually) to Kilmainham Gaol, where a guided tour of the prison complex ensued, with photo opportunities to boot. From the gaol, a short walk away brought me to the Irish Museum of Modern Art, and I scurried from one room to another, trying to take in the abstract nature of the exhibits. Later on the same evening, a stroll around the Temple Bar district (easily Dublin's main hub of evening activity) brought to my attention a stand-up comedy show taking place at the Ha'Penny Bridge Inn, and the show itself earned two thumbs up from myself for the way in which its quickfire appeal had people rolling in the aisles. On the whole, I felt that Dublin satisfied all of what my prior perceptions had led me to believe constituted the 'Dublin experience', and although you get a better run for your money in other European cities, perhaps in better weather, it also felt like the 1990's boom period of the Celtic Tiger had set in motion all the new-ish construction projects and more recent additions to the cityscape.
Irish Museum of Modern Art, as seen from the courtyard area.
It always seems to delight me more than many other things in life when I am overseas and in the thick of the terrain, confronting the challenging and exotic nature of the unfamiliar, and since Dublin's city fabric did seem somewhat familiar, even on first glance (traces of other UK cities are to be found there), it is fair to suggest that the overall impact for me was more akin to a gentle tickle rather than a persuasive shove, albeit wrapped up in warm-spirited Irish hospitality.