Sheathed in acres of rolling green expanses, Phoenix Park is one of the largest city parks in Europe. This massive verdant swathe lies nestled in the west of the city, and is a mixture of wilderness and formal landscape gardens. Dotted with tree-cloaked boulevards, pristine tracts of grassland and open recreational spaces, the park is also home to some monumental, nationally significant edifices, too. The Ashtown Castle calls the park home, in addition to the towering Papal Cross which marks the visit of Pope John Paul II back in 1979, the stately Áras an Uachtaráin, the Wellington Monument which is a soaring tribute to the Duke of Wellington, and the teeming Dublin Zoo, are all nestled in its scenic, idyllic expanse. Among the many recreational activities offered here are Gaelic football, polo and cricket. Also enclosed within its viridescent fabric is a vibrant burst of plant life, while a bird sanctuary and a herd of fallow deer coexist in peaceful harmony. Playing host to an array of events, festivals as well as racing events, Phoenix Park is a massive window into the unbridled natural beauty and strategic finesse of Ireland.
A short bus ride from the city center, the splendid Botanic Gardens and its many floral wonders are a stunning treat to the senses. Accentuated all the more by the glimmering waters of River Tolka, these Irish gardens uphold an assemblage of hundreds of thousands of plants, and a smattering of botanical specimens. In all their floral glory, the gardens are a wonderland for naturalists and botany aficionados, its verdant course dotted by a string of splendid greenhouses, like the impressive, structural and glass-clad Curvilinear Range and the Palm House. The great glasshouses full of exotica were constructed in the mid 19th century and designed by Richard Turner, who was also the man behind the glasshouses at Kew Gardens. The gardens are divided into distinct areas of interest, featuring long herbaceous beds, a rose garden, alpine houses, a vegetable garden, orchid beds, an arboretum, a yew-clad walkway along the river, and a wonderful area exhibiting the various natural habitats of Ireland. Also sheltering willows plunging gracefully over gleaming waters, the National Botanic Gardens are a luxuriant canvas of natural glory and luminescence.
This private house and one-time fortress is located on acres of lush parkland in Malahide. The interiors are done up beautifully with plush drawing rooms and portrait paintings of the Talbot family, while the facade is flanked by beguiling Gothic Revival turrets. Standing strong for about 800 years, this old home has seen it all; wars, good times and memories of the family it sheltered. One of the country's oldest castles, the magnificent Malahide Castle not only chronicles the legacy of the Talbots, but it has also been a catalyst in framing the course of Ireland's medieval history. Now a major attraction, the main hall plays host to private celebrations and banquets, while guided tours in French, Spanish and Dutch are available for tourists. The restaurant is quite popular with the locals, who drop in for a hot traditional breakfast of baked scones, with homemade jam and cream.
If whiskey is your poison, get ready to indulge to your heart's content. After the educational tour of the distillery, and your careful attention to the historical overview, retire to the in-house pub and make a little whiskey history of your own. There's also a restaurant with fixed price menus for lunch and dinner. Whether you want to learn more about the whiskey making process, indulge in hearty food or taste new spirits, a visit to Old Jameson Distillery won't let you down.
This former prison is one of Dublin's most historic buildings. Dating back to 1796, the Kilmainham Gaol is a massive building that housed men, women and even child prisoners. Most notably, the Gaol is known for incarcerating famous rebels and prisoners of war. Today the building serves as a museum with exhibits, artifacts and docent-led tours.
Located at Stephen's Green, this little non-profit museum revives 20th Century Dublin for visitors. The little museum focuses, among other things, on the cultural transition that took place during the entire existence of the nation. There's a surprising amount of things to discover here, such as the Golden Age of Dublin, contribution of women in significant socio-economic movements, and a special exhibit dedicated to U2, Ireland's biggest rock band. Overall, it is a great way to acquaint yourself with how far the great city has come, and it is highly recommended to join one of their super engaging tours.
Completed in 1779, the City Hall designed by Thomas Cooley housed the Royal Exchange. It is an elegant reminder of the wealth and opulence of Dublin in the city's 18th-century heyday. Today, City Hall is managed by the Dublin Corporation, which has restored the building beautifully. The great central atrium, complete with gold-leafed dome and mosaic floor, is one of the most impressive public spaces around. The history of Dublin is told in a vivid, computer-aided series of exhibitions.
Xavix Console is like a hidden gem in the wonderful city of Dublin. This fabulous venue simply possesses an enjoyable atmosphere, where you can enjoy live music. Many a local bands and international ones too drop by at this spot to do their bit, while the crowd is surrounded by the awesome mantle of rhythmic music. Not to mention the state-of-the-art light and sound fixtures adding to every performance. Do drop by at Xavix, especially if you're a fan of live music.
This fine 19th-century venue has a fading glory that perfectly suits its dual function as both a theater and a venue for live bands. Productions are generally of the more mainstream variety, while the venue's large capacity is popular with visiting rock acts from Britain and further afield. Check the local press for details of what's on. The Olympia's annual pantomime has also become somewhat of a national institution.
First established in the late 1960s, the Project Arts Center was 'the' place to see fringe and visiting theatre performances in Dublin, and was also one of the few organizations brave enough to establish itself in the then-derelict Temple Bar area. The Project was not without its shortcomings, however; it was cramped, acoustics were poor and its infamous tin-roof seemed like it would literally fly off when the wind rose during performances. The four-storey Project boasts two spacious performance studios, numerous spaces for art exhibits, and a cafe/bar, the Project is set to become a focal point for the performing arts in Dublin. See their website for details for forthcoming events.
The original structure of Smock Alley Theatre dates back to the 17th Century that operated till the 18th Century and was left unused later. This classic building was renovated in 2012 and starting functioning as a space for entertainment again. Though the venue exudes a medieval charm, it is equipped with modern lighting and acoustics that ensure a pleasant experience for audience. The theater property has rental spaces with different capacities that can be hired for small and large-scale events. Smock Alley Theatre hosts a plethora of events from the fields of dance, drama and music. You can enjoy a delicious bite before or after the event at its in-house bar. All in all, you are sure to leave with a wonderful memory after attending a show here.
Dublin Castle symbolized English rule for 700 years, ever since the Anglo-Normans built their fortress on this site. Later, the castle was to serve as the headquarters of the English-appointed Viceroy of Ireland. It was not until 1922 that it was finally handed over to the Irish Free State. The castle's apartments boast of opulent, wonderfully-decorated rooms, while carpets of rolling, formal gardens lend it an alluring aura. Sheltered within the castle's fabric are insignia and collectibles of historical interest. The Castle is in use even today as a venue for state functions as well as home to multiple government agencies. The castle grounds are also home to the magnificent Chapel Royal and the splendid Chester Beatty Library. A window into the country's monumental, medieval past, this mighty castle is indeed one of the most priceless possessions of Dublin.