Exploring Dublin: A Three-Day Adventure

Dublin combines its rich history and literary heritage with a vibrant pub scene, offering a diverse experience to visitors. It was the perfect starting point for our adventure, gearing us up for the much-anticipated hike along the Dingle Way on Ireland’s rugged western coast.

Every corner of Dublin oozes history, from the majestic Dublin Castle to the bustling energy of Temple Bar. And let’s not forget about the literary giants like James Joyce who’ve left their mark on this city.

The pubs? They’re not just watering holes; they’re where you really get a taste of Dublin life over a pint or two.

Dublin, Ireland
Temple Bar in Temple Bar

After a long flight, touching down was a relief. Passport control and finding a cab were surprisingly hassle-free. Once we settled into the Wynne Hotel, it was only natural to head straight to the bar for that quintessential pint of Guinness. And get this—our hotel has its own tale to tell.

Dating back to 1845, the Wynne Hotel has some fascinating connections to the Abbey Theatre, all thanks to its owner, Miss Phoebe Wynn. She had a knack for attracting the literary crowd, turning the hotel into a hotspot for Abbey stage actors and writers.

Back in 1913, our hotel’s Saints & Scholars Lounge hosted a significant historical event—the founding meeting of ‘The Irish Volunteer Force.’ It’s remarkable, isn’t it? It feels like history is ingrained in every part of this place.

Day 1

We began our first day with a pint (though, admittedly, preceded by breakfast) before a visit to the historic Jameson Distillery on Bow Street. Even though they’re no longer distilling whiskey at this location, it’s still a piece of Dublin’s past worth exploring. And while they may not produce it here, they still age some of it in the city.

During our tasting session, we had the opportunity to sample a few different blends—Jameson Black Barrel Proof, Powers Whiskey Gold Label, Jameson Crested, and Jameson Bow Street (18 years cast strength). I’m not exactly a whiskey connoisseur, but I have to say, it was quite fascinating.

After the whiskey tasting, we headed to The Brazen Head, which is said to be Dublin’s oldest pub. Despite undergoing a few renovations over the centuries, this establishment has managed to preserve some original features since its founding in 1198.

Dublin, Ireland
The Brazen Head

Upon entering, I was greeted by Irish flag banners hanging from the ceilings, while the walls were adorned with framed photos, various paper currencies, stickers, and other Irish memorabilia. Legend has it that the old wooden floor even bears marks from Viking spears, adding a fascinating touch of history to the pub’s ambiance.

Later, we caught a 45-minute bus ride to The Morgue in Templeogue Village, known as one of the finest pubs in South Dublin.

In the early ’80s, during his student days at Trinity College, Tom lived with the Tobin family in the Templeogue area. His daily ritual involved taking a bus to and from Trinity College. Each morning, Tom would trek behind Tobin’s house, traverse a field, and cross a stream using a fallen log—all to join a group of locals at The Morgue before classes. It was a quintessentially Irish way to start the day, with domino games being a regular feature. The stakes for each match were the price of a pint.

Dublin, Ireland
The Morgue Pub

Known affectionately as “Lena’s” to the Tobins but widely recognized as “The Morgue,” the pub has an interesting history. Its location along the railroad line led to tragic accidents where pedestrians encountered trains, resulting in fatalities.

Being the only establishment with a cold cellar, The Morgue served as a temporary resting place for the deceased over the weekend before their journey to Wicklow, hence earning its name.

While The Morgue has retained its familiar charm, the surrounding area, once predominantly farmland, has seen considerable development. Staying true to tradition, we indulged in a couple of pints of Guinness (even though I’m not typically a beer drinker). Along with our drinks, we couldn’t resist trying the “Morgue chips”—crispy fried potatoes with a spicy kick. Many of the other patrons here were enjoying a pint while watching horse racing on TV screens.

Once we got back to downtown Dublin, we had just a few minutes to freshen up before heading to The Duke. I had pre-booked a Literary Tour and Pub Crawl, and despite its touristy reputation, the reviews were outstanding, so why not? The tour was led by two local actors, Finn and Frank, who managed to squeeze it in between their acting gigs.

Dublin, Ireland
Enjoying the. show

As the evening progressed, Finn and Frank regaled us with tales and performances from the works of Ireland’s literary giants. When they donned bowlers for a scene from Waiting for Godot, I knew we were in for a treat! We relished the entertainment and visited three renowned pubs: Dukes (where the tour kicked off), The Palace, and O’Neill’s (where it wrapped up), inevitably leading to more rounds of Guinness. Finn and Frank did a stellar job, and the tour and pub crawl made for an incredible first night. I’d wholeheartedly recommend it.

Afterward, we strolled across the River Liffey, making our way back to the Wynne via the beautifully illuminated pedestrian Ha’penny Bridge. The reflections of the surrounding buildings on the water as we crossed were simply breathtaking.

Dublin, Ireland
The Ha'Penny Bridge

Curious about the bridge’s peculiar name? When it was first built in 1816, a toll was imposed for crossing. Interestingly, the toll started at one penny but was later increased to one penny-ha’penny, equivalent to 1½ pence. This toll system remained in place until 1919, when it was finally abolished.

Day 2

Day two in Dublin began with a coffee and a scone at the Wynne Hotel, setting us up for our day’s adventure. Passing by the GPO Museum at the iconic General Post Office on O’Connell Street and catching a glimpse of the towering Spire, we made our way towards the River Liffey, the lifeline of Dublin. Our walk continued through Temple Bar — a lively cultural quarter characterized by its narrow, cobbled streets.

Dublin, Ireland
The General Post Office (GPO) holds significant historical importance as the site of the 1916 Easter Rising

Next up was Trinity College. Established in 1592, it’s Ireland’s oldest university and has produced renowned alums like Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde, and Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver’s Travels.

Home to the historic Book of Kells since 1661, Trinity invites visitors to discover this treasure at the Book of Kells Exhibition.

The library, founded in 1592, boasts an impressive collection of over six million books and manuscripts. Its highlight is the Long Room, a 65-meter gallery filled with ancient books and statues of literary figures, offering a unique glimpse into Ireland’s cultural and intellectual history.

For Tom, a visit to Trinity is a walk down memory lane, having spent nine memorable months studying here years ago.

From Trinity, we made our way to Glasnevin Cemetery, which is about a 30-minute walk from downtown. Although it might seem like a lengthy trek on a map, it actually guides you through areas you might otherwise overlook. Along the way, we passed landmarks such as the Garden of Remembrance and crossed the bridge over the Royal Canal, eventually passing by Mountjoy Prison.

Glasnevin Cemetery is the resting place of the who’s who of Irish history, from literary icons to renowned musicians to key figures of the Irish Republic like Michael Collins. As we explored the cemetery, we spent quite some time paying our respects at the graves of these influential figures.

Among them lies Brendan Behan, the acclaimed playwright and poet whose works continue to be cherished globally. Behan’s grave is marked by a simple headstone bearing a sign that reads: ‘A simple house painter.’ Visitors often leave tokens of appreciation and admiration, such as pens and small notes, honoring Behan’s impact on Irish literature and the enduring legacy of his bold, captivating works. Above a photo of Behan, which was left at the graveside, was one of his quotes — “I’m a drinker with a writing problem.”

I also stopped at Daniel O’Connell’s Tomb, known as the Great Liberator. Legend has it that touching his wooden coffin brings luck— naturally, I had to touch it.

Dublin
Daniel O'Connell's Tomb aka The Great Liberator

Glasnevin Cemetery’s tranquil grounds, adorned with lush greenery and vibrant flowers, provide a serene sanctuary away from the hustle and bustle of urban life.

Then, it was time to head to the Guinness Storehouse, where I had pre-booked tickets for a visit—which consisted of a self-guided tour, entry to the Gravity Bar, and, of course, a refreshing pint of Guinness.

Before the tour, we made a pit stop on the fifth floor for a “Stoutie”—a Guinness with our selfie imprinted on the foam. I was amazed by the technology behind it, and the Guinness itself was visually stunning and incredibly tasty.

Dublin, Ireland
Selfie on my Guinness

After the tour, we headed up to the Gravity Bar for breathtaking 360-degree city views while savoring another pint of Guinness. Luckily, I snagged a window table, allowing us to soak in the scene for about an hour.

Though known to be crowded at times, the Guinness Storehouse is worth the visit.

As we made our way back to our hotel, we couldn’t resist grabbing some chips from the renowned Leo Burdock Traditional Fish and Chips in Christchurch, which has been serving fish and chips since 1913.

Dublin, Ireland
Leo Burdock famous for its fish and chips

Later that evening, we caught a play at the Abbey Theatre, a must-do whenever in the city.

And then it was off to McDaid’s for an ending Guinness and some TRAD music. The place was buzzing when we arrived, but we managed to snag a good spot near the bar.

Day 3

Day three began with a guided history tour. Meeting up at St. Stephen’s Park, we made a quick pit stop at the iconic statue of Oscar Wilde before setting off on our tour.

Dublin, Ireland
Statue of Oscar Wilde

Then we headed to Kilmainham Gaol, established in 1796 and of immense significance in Irish history. It housed numerous notable political prisoners, including leaders of uprisings against British rule. It served as the location where the key figures behind the 1916 Easter Uprising were incarcerated and executed.

Today, Kilmainham Gaol operates as a museum, offering visitors immersive tours of its historic premises. This provides a stark reminder of the sacrifices made for Irish independence.

Next stop: the stunning St. Patrick’s Cathedral, established in 1191. It is Ireland’s largest church and also bears the title of National Cathedral. Legend has it that over 1500 years ago, this venerable institution was the setting for St. Patrick’s baptismal rites for newly converted Christians—a testament to its rich history and significance.

This three-hour walking tour also featured several other stops with historical significance.
Exploring a city with a guided tour is always rewarding. The tour provides insights into lesser-known facts and interesting aspects of the area.

After the tour and by now craving a pint of Guinness, we headed over to John Kavanagh’s “The Gravediggers” Pub—located just beyond the Glasnevin Cemetery.

Dublin, Ireland
The very popular Gravediggers Pub

Stepping into The Gravediggers is akin to stepping back in time. The atmosphere resonates with history, maintaining the traditional standing-room-only layout characteristic of old Irish pubs. There were no seats, and the atmosphere was free of distractions like loud music or flashing TV screens, yet it buzzed with a lively crowd—savoring their pints while engaged in conversation. The vibe exuded undeniable coolness, making it a spot I’ll definitely revisit on future trips.

Dublin, Ireland
The Guinness kept coming

Although I typically enjoy pub fare in Ireland, being our last night, we opted for a change and treated ourselves to dinner at The Winding Staircase. It is situated in a charming historic building and has excellent views of the River Liffey. The warm and inviting atmosphere added to the experience, but it was the delicious cuisine made from locally sourced ingredients that truly stole the show. If you’re looking for something beyond the usual fish and chips, I recommend trying this place.

Then we headed to O’Donoghue’s, famous for its traditional Irish music. True to its reputation, the place was bustling with patrons. The evening’s band was fantastic, delighting the crowd with popular Irish tunes that had everyone joining in the singing. It was the perfect way to wrap up our three days in Dublin.

Dublin, Ireland
O'Donoghues has been serving pints for over 160 years

"When I die Dublin will be written in my heart"

The following day, we set off for the west coast to embark on a 12-day, 11-night trek around the Ring of Dingle.

Other suggestions on things to do (besides the above):

1. Explore Dublin Castle and its beautifully landscaped gardens.

2. Experience the bustling atmosphere of Grafton Street, Dublin’s premier shopping destination.

3. Immerse yourself in literary history with a visit to the Dublin Writers Museum or the James Joyce Centre.

4. Attend a performance at one of Dublin’s renowned theaters, such as the Abbey Theatre or the Gaiety Theatre.

5. Embark on a literary tour of Ulysses, delving into James Joyce’s masterpiece. Trace the footsteps of its iconic characters and explore the vibrant city of Dublin through a literary lens.