I am less than two weeks from leaving Ireland and I still feel like I just got here! To avoid thinking about my upcoming departure, I decided to create the following list of some of my favorite Dublin experiences (in no particular order). There are of course more than 10 things to experience in Dublin, but I think these ten are absolutely necessary!
1. Kilmainham Gaol
This jail turned museum opened its doors in 1796 and closed in 1924. Taking a tour of this Panopticon prison is not only fascinating and a little haunting, but also packed with Irish history. The youngest inmate was five years old!
2. National Museum of Ireland—Archaeology
There are four Irish National Museums—Archaeology, Decorative Arts & History, Country Life, and Natural History—and all of these museums have free admission! I did not have a chance to visit every museum, but the Archaeology Museum has an exhibit about Iron Age bog bodies. These bodies were preserved in bogs for thousands and thousands of years. Their skin has become leathery and visitors can even see perfectly preserved fingernails on some of the bodies. Thanks to the preserving abilities of the bogs, archaeologists were able to determine how these ancient people died and what they ate for their last meals.
3. Causey Farm
Speaking of bogs…Causey Farm is an hour outside of Dublin and visitors can jump in a bog, learn to Irish dance, hold baby animals, milk cows, bake brown bread, and so much more! Jumping into a bog felt like being sucked into pulpy pudding. So if you've ever dreamed of filling a bathtub with something other than water, jumping in a bog is a must try! If you can get out of the city and out to a farm, I would highly recommend it for a full Irish experience.
Jumped in a bog and hugged a dog!
4. Dublin Zoo
The Dublin Zoo is located in Phoenix Park and has expansive habitats for their animals. The zoo’s mission is to work towards the conservation of endangered species. The day I went to the zoo with my friends was beautifully sunny and it seemed like every animal was outside lounging in the sun. Since opening its doors in 1831, the zoo continues to be one of Dublin’s most popular attractions (and for good reason too!)
5. Croke Park
Gaelic Games are a huge part of Irish culture, so if you have the time I would highly recommend going to the Croke Park sports stadium to experience a game of Gaelic football or hurling! I was fortunate enough to see a football and hurling game and they were two of the best experiences of my whole trip. All of Ireland comes together to watch these games, no matter which team they are supporting. Hurling happens to be the fastest moving field sport in the world!
6. Dublin Pride
If you are visiting Dublin in June be sure to check out and participate in the LGBTQ Pride parade and events. Ireland is a historically Catholic country, but it was the first country to legalize same-sex marriage in 2015. Dublin absolutely radiates with love at all times of the year, but especially in June!
7. Art Tea at the Merrion Hotel
If you want to spend an afternoon feeling like royalty, afternoon tea at the 5-star Merrion Hotel is the place to go! The hotel’s chefs design tea and treats based off of the hotel’s art collection. Afternoon tea includes unlimited tea (ranging from black to herbal) and also includes two courses of food. The first course consists of savory sandwiches, scones, and teacakes. The following course includes desserts designed with inspiration from the art that surrounds you in the hotel’s drawing rooms. Reservations are required and 110% worth it!
8. The Queen of Tarts
Continuing the royalty theme…the Queen of Tarts café and patisserie is a Dublin must. Located in the heart of the city, this quaint café is one of the best places to go for lunch and stay for tea and desserts fit for a queen. I went to the Queen of Tarts a few more times than I would like to admit, but you get an entire pot of tea for €2.70 and Gaiety School of Acting students get a 10% discount.
Theatre and storytelling both have a long history in Ireland. Samuel Beckett, Marina Carr, and Sean O’Casey are a few of the celebrated Irish playwrights and the Smock Alley Theatre is the oldest theatre in Europe still at its original location (est. 1662). I may be a little biased since I have been taking classes at the Gaiety School of Acting, but seeing Irish theatre taught me so much about Irish culture and has influenced me as a performer and as a person.
10. Leo Burdock Fish and Chips
I love fish and chips and Leo’s traditional fish and chips are some of the best. Many famous people have eaten at Leo Burdocks, including (my regular readers will never believe it…drumroll…) HILARY SWANK and the entire cast of P.S. I Love You!!! This is the closest I’ve come to finding Hilary Swank since setting out on my Irish Adventure, so I took a picture of Leo Burdock’s Wall of Fame to prove my success!
Feel free to comment with any of your top ten Dublin bucket list locations!
More Blogs From This Author
<p>Hi There! My name is Elisabeth "Allie" Lawrence and I am a Theatre and English double major with an emphasis in creative writing at the University of Puget Sound in Tacoma, WA. At UPS, one of my favorite activities is being a coproducer for the sketch comedy troupe on campus, Ubiquitous They. I am beyond excited to be able to experience Dublin, Ireland for the first time and grow as an actor in the final summer before my senior year.</p>