Dublin has no doubt always been, as the ditty suggests, a fair city with its historic university, smashing old pubs and lines of Georgian homes each with their unique door and window lights. However, since the economic boom of the 1990s, Dublin has stepped up a gear and added gentrification, modernisation, bars, shops and restaurants a plenty.
Dublin can be a charming destination at any time of year, but spring-time is particularly enjoyable, as you can take full advantage of the parks with their blossom blooming dotted around the city, including the beautiful Phoenix Park a short bus ride out of the center which houses a zoo and acres of parkland as well as the U.S. Embassy. Add to this that St. Patrick’s Day is March 17 and spring is probably the nicest time to visit the Emerald Isle.
As with many cities, Dublin offers hop-on, hop-off bus tours and given the scattered quality of some of the attractions of the area these provide good value in what is claimed to be the second most expensive city in Europe. These passes run along two or three different routes run by different companies. You are advised to look at which attractions they stop at before making your decisions (most of them cover the main ones).
These passes can be 24 or 48 hours in duration, and the buses run from approximately 9-5 each day. There is a lot of walking to be done in Dublin, so it might be best to plan your route around a little walking and a little bus touring, which is provided with commentary and sometimes if you are lucky a bit of singing of Molly Malone by the driver!
In the center and easily walkable are both St. Patrick’s and Christchurch Cathedral, plus the Grafton Street shops and Temple Bar’s newly restored area of restaurants, clubs and pubs. You can also easily walk along the banks of the River Liffey and watch the world go by. The Four Courts, the handsome Custom House and the new dock area are all a nicely encompassing morning’s walk, but also available as stops on the bus.
If you are enthralled by stained glass then spring, when the light is good is an excellent time to experience this at any of the churches, but particularly Harry Clarke’s work at Bewley’s Oriental Cafe and Grafton Street or at their other branch situated at the top of the converted church that acts as the Tourist Information Center. Mind you it must be said that any foray into Bewley’s will not be a cheap one, but a quick drink there and the beautiful surroundings will make up for any cost.
Trinity College and it’s incumbent book of Kells is probably best seen in the spring too. It gets incredibly busy both in term time and from about 9.30 with visitors to the famous illuminated documents, so you are advised to start there one morning at just before 9 to take in the beautiful buildings and quad without the hoards of visitors.
Two places, one famous and one less so are to be found off the beaten track and on the bus tours, these are Kilmainham Jail and the Guinness Storehouse. St. James Gate has been home to the Guinness family and the brewery since 1751 when Arthur Guinness signed a lease to the St. James Gate property to brew “porter” for 9000 years.
Kilmainham Jail has a less salubrious history and figured prominently in the “Irish Home Rule” in Ireland. Famous revolutionaries incarcerated there included Charles Stewart Parnell and Eamon de Valera. Tours take place daily. The Jail ceased to be an active prison at the onset of Home Rule in 1924.
There is so much more to mention and of importance, Oscar Wilde’s former home and statue, the elegant homes of Parnell Square as well as taking a spring stroll into elegant and beautiful roads in the Donnybrook “embassy” area of the city. A great time to be had at any time of year, Dublin is particularly enchanting in the warmer, lighter weather.