When I was in college I was lucky enough to participate in a study abroad program at the University of Bath in England. One of the many highlights of that semester was a whirlwind four-day trip to Dublin, Ireland. During that trip I saw many beautiful and interesting things, and this article is about five of the best.
The National Gallery of Dublin is a must see for any art lover. The highlight of this museum is the work of Jack Butler Yeats. This Irish painter’s use of bold colors and thick applications of paint produced many vivid and evocative works. You may be familiar with his brother, William Butler Yeats, who was a pretty good poet. The talent level in that family was simply amazing.
Yeats’ paintings alone would make a visit to the National Gallery one of the best things to do in Dublin, but there are many other magnificent works of art to behold. The National Gallery of Dublin has free admission to its permanent collection, which is always nice when traveling on a budget. For more information or to browse the collection through a virtual tour, go to www.nationalgallery.
I was not expecting to see mummies on my visit to Dublin. While Ireland is not Egypt, there are the mummies of St. Michan’s.
St. Michan’s is a protestant church steeped in history. The first church built there dates to 1095. It is rumored that Handel first played his Messiah on the organ in this church, and that Bram Stoker drew inspiration for Dracula from visiting the crypts and mummies. While St. Micahn’s is historically interesting and houses some beautiful pieces of history, most people visit for the mummies.
In the crypts beneath the church are some remarkably well-preserved bodies. They were not wrapped or prepared like the more famous Egyptian mummies, but were buried in coffins. There are a few different theories for why the bodies here are so well preserved, but the dry air of the crypt and the cool climate are likely the most important factors. Whatever the reason for their existence, the mummies provide a grim chill to the visitor, make for an interesting history lesson, and give St. Micahn’s the honor of being the creepiest of the best things to do Dublin. To read more about the mummies and St. Micahn’s, you can visit here, here, and here.
Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest University, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. Today, Trinity College is one of the best places to visit in Dublin. This beautiful campus holds a lot of history and some fantastic architecture. The Old Library hosts an amazing collection of books, including the Book of Kells, which may be the most famous book in the Western World. The Book of Kells is a beautifully illustrated Latin version of the four gospels that was created by monks around the year 800. While the Book of Kells is amazing, you only get to see three pages of it on display, and the lines can sometimes be quite long. I suggest booking a guided tour of the campus, which will give an excellent overview of Trinity College’s history, architecture, famous graduates, and which includes admission to the library and the Book of Kells. For information on booking a tour or for more information about Trinity College, please visit www.bookofkells.ie and www.tcd.ie.
The Guiness Storehouse is one of the top things to do in Dublin for thirsty travelers. The self-guided tour teaches about the interesting and colorful history of Guiness, as well as the process used to create the beer. This is not the actual brewery, but it is located on the same spot as the original brewery that was leased by Arthur Guinness. The man must have had a stout faith in his stout, because the lease he agreed to had a term of 9000 years. Another highlight of this tour is drinking a pint of Guiness in the Gravity Bar on the top floor, high above Dublin with fantastic views of the city.
The downsides of this particular Dublin attraction are that it is touristy and expensive. Currently at 15 Euros a person, I would expect the tour to have a guide other than myself. At least the fee includes a pint. Still, the Guiness Storehouse remains one of the top five things to do in Dublin. To get more info, or to buy tickets at a slight discount, go to www.guinness-storehouse.com.
One of the top five things for any visitor to Dublin, especially students, to experience is a traditional Irish pub, especially with traditional Irish music. You can find them through exploration, which worked okay for some of my classmates, and me, but you could read this article to get some ideas. Fans of James Joyce should stop by Davy Byrnes on Duke Street, although it has changed quite a bit since Ulysses . If you want something that is not too loud or choked with tourists, then you should mostly steer clear of the Temple Bar area.
Dublin is a vibrant city that certainly has more than five great things to do, but these five things were enjoyed by many of my classmates and myself. I think you will enjoy them too. Have a good time in Dublin.