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.
An architecturally and culturally iconic venue in the city, the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre (formerly Grand Canal Theatre) is the brainchild of Mike Adamson, CEO of LiveNation. The need for such a theater arose because numerous international theater groups were yearning to perform in the city, but save for the O2, there wasn't a venue prominent enough to host them, and the O2 couldn't accommodate all of the performances in its schedule. Thus, an initiative for another first-rate theater was taken, and with the approval of the Dublin Dockyards Development Authority, the construction of the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre began in 2007. Opened in March 2010, this theater has hosted a passel of cultural events, including ballets, plays, operas, concerts and much more. With a capacity of 2111, this is one of the premier venues for major events in the city.
The National Concert Hall sits imposingly close to St Stephen's Green. This large building was formerly home to University College Dublin but became the city's main concert venue in 1981. There are two halls. The acoustics in the main auditorium are not the best by any means, but the John Field Room next door offers better sound and a more intimate setting. The Hall attracts the best of classical performers to the city. The fine National Symphony Orchestra and National Concert Orchestra also perform here regularly. If you don't have time for an evening performance, you might be able to squeeze in a lunchtime recital at this attractive and comfortable venue.
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.
Founded in 1904 by W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory, the Abbey is Ireland's national theater and remains a crucial promoter of established and emerging Irish playwrights. The theater's early years saw much controversy: the 1926 premiere of O'Casey's 'The Plough and the Stars' upset nationalist sensibilities and provoked Yeats to personally rebuke the audience, who felt offended by the depiction of the 1916 nationalist movement. Although generally less controversial these days, new Irish plays are still staged in the basement theater, the Peacock. The theater's Abbey Street premises has been open since 1961, but changes are afoot. The management is currently considering a move south of the river.
Dublin's most famous park is steeped in history. It started life as common ground, not far from a lepers' hospital, and was eventually enclosed in 1664. The site of public hangings throughout the 18th century, it was not until Lord Ardilaun's patronage in 1880 that the park took on the landscaped form that we see now. Memorials are dotted around the flower beds, trees, and willow-fringed duck pond. James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, and W.B. Yeats are just some of the famous names commemorated, while the Three Fates smugly measure the thread of humanity's destiny from their fountain at Leeson Street Gate. Free concerts are held on summer days in the bandstand.
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.
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.
As one of the most successful developments in Temple Bar, the Irish Film Institute (IFI) will keep the most discerning culture-vulture entertained for hours. Film buffs will enjoy the two art-house cinemas and fairly comprehensive bookshop. The café/bar/restaurant is worth visiting in its own right if only to marvel at the award-winning architecture, as this light-filled building was constructed from the space between two older houses. The IFI also regularly hosts festival screenings, seminars, and workshops. A fun and relaxing place in which to spend an hour or two.