Originally from Cork, AnneMarie McCarthy has lived in Dublin for the last two years, drawn by the promise of an exciting gig scene and hundreds of new pubs. The city has lived up to all of this and more: she’s found fascinating history, a treasure trove of culture and lots and lots of craic.
I always bring visitors to… Glasnevin Cemetery. The staff there are incredibly knowledgeable and enthusiastic and if you know nothing about Irish history their tours are a great place to start. It may seem morbid but there is something very comforting about the cemetery thanks to the care and attention given to the graves and the life breathed into the stories of the people inside them.
More people are buried here than are alive in Dublin today and, besides, when is the next time you’ll get a chance to visit a crypt and touch the coffin of a civil rights icon for luck? Known as the Liberator, Daniel O’Connell advocated a peaceful road to Irish independence and Catholic rights and his tactics inspired Martin Luther King and Mahatma Gandhi; his crypt and tower stand on the south side of the cemetery.
On a sunny day you’ll find me at… the cricket grounds in Trinity College, which becomes the world’s best beer (and cheapest) beer garden in summer. There is a bar on the grounds but locals usually buy their beer cans at the local shop and stretch out on the grass for a spot of people-watching. It’s a peaceful, green haven in the heart of the city and you’ll beat the crowds of Dubliners struggling to find an outside table in every other drinking establishment.
When I want to get out of the city… I hop on the bus to the suburb of Clontarf, walk down Dollymount Strand and explore the nature reserve of Bull Island. If I have access to a car, I’ll go further afield and drive down to the Wicklow Mountains for some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, right on your doorstep.
When I want a great meal out… L Mulligan Grocer in Stoneybatter is gastropub dining at its finest. You’ll be treated to local, seasonal ingredients, a matching craft beer menu and excellent service – don’t leave without trying the scotch egg. It’s worth booking a table for its famous Sunday roasts. If you prefer to grab and go, Temple Bar Food Market has an array of stalls every Saturday serving the best fresh Irish produce to munch on while you explore the city.
When I want some solitude… I go to Phoenix Park. It can be busy on sunny weekends, but this is one of Europe’s largest parks and you’ll always find a quiet spot beneath the trees when you stray off the path. Here you’re more likely to be accompanied by some of the famous deer that roam the area, grazing happily. Keep an eye out for the hawthorn trees in these quieter spots; legend says that’s where the fairies meet.
For an energy boost… I check out one of the city’s great cafes, sticking to the independent businesses. It’s hard to pick a favourite spot, but Vice Coffee in Wigwam deserves a special mention for its delectable range of coffee cocktails.
If I feel like having a fancy night out… I head to Vintage Cocktail Club, where you are transported back to the 1920’s Prohibition era with soft candlelight, scrumptious food and possibly the biggest cocktail menu you’ll ever see in your life. For something different, there are plenty of poitín cocktails to try, though they’re made of the legal variety rather than the more traditional bootleg liquor.
When I want a little excitement… I watch a hurling game. It’s the fastest field sport in the world, the sliotar (ball) travelling at 150km/h with incredible accuracy. The entire scoreboard can change in a heartbeat so pick a team and and get your heart racing.
Hurling, gaelic football and handball are the most popular sports in the country but are rarely seen outside the island. Heading to your temporary local in Dublin to watch a game is a good way to get a taste. If you want to try the sports out for yourself, check out Experience Gaelic Games.
When I’m in the mood for shopping… I hit the markets. Dublin Flea Market, on the last Sunday of every month in Newmarket Square, is my favourite. It’s stuffed full of clothing, bric-a-brac and art. The Bernard Shaw hosts a few themed markets every weekend so check the website for what’s on when you visit. As well as unique second-hand stuff, you’ll always find some fabulous locally made crafts in both spots.
One thing I hate about Dublin… is that most public transport goes through the city centre, meaning that if you want to move from one neighbourhood to another you might have to take two buses over the course of an hour, while it’s just a ten-minute journey by car. Also Temple Bar on a weekend night, especially in the summer, is far too crowded and expensive.
The thing I love most about Dublin… is the people. We’re always up for a laugh and though we may not live in the prettiest city, we probably have the most fun. Work and wallet be damned, you’ll always find someone to go for a pint with you on a workday evening. When you combine relentless optimism with dark cynicism, it makes for some interesting results. Don’t be shy: strike up a conversation.