Monday 25 September 2017

Six super reasons to fall in love with Dublin all over again…

Dublin-based blogger, tour guide and author, Emily Westbooks
Dublin-based blogger, tour guide and author, Emily Westbooks
Cross Cafe & Gallery, Dublin
Irish War Memorial Gardens, Dublin
Jam Art Factory, Dublin
Merchants' Market, Dublin
Coppa, at the Royal Hibernian Gallery, Dublin.

Emily Westbrooks

Autumn is the perfect time to rediscover Dublin, says blogger and tour guide Emily Westbooks. We asked her to open her little black book and share her favourite spots...

Autumn is such a wonderful time of year in Dublin.

The weather always seems to co-operate (of course I've jinxed it now), and there are tonnes of events throughout the city, not least the fab Dublin Festival Season.

It's the perfect time of year to rediscover the delightful parts of the city you may have skipped over while enjoying the summer sunshine, in other words - to dig back into the nooks and crannies of the capital and fall in love with it all over again.

Here are six of my favourite hidden gems!

1. Cross Café & Gallery

Cross Cafe & Gallery, Dublin

Francis Street is such a funny little - and oft-overlooked - pocket of the city.

But it can be great for window shopping or picking up charity shop bargains. Before haggling for that side table, stop into the peaceful Cross Café for a coffee and a  browse through their current collection of 20th century furniture, collectibles and art. It's a very different café!

Details: 59 Francis St.; 01 473-8978; www.crossgallery.ie

2. Irish War Memorial Gardens

Irish War Memorial Gardens, Dublin

There's no better time of year than autumn for a stroll through the Irish War Memorial Gardens, from the trees turning colours to the Trinity rowing club skimming across the water down by their boathouse.

The gardens themselves are dedicated to the 49,400 Irish soldiers who died in the First World War – as well as the lovely landscaping features you’ll find Ireland’s Memorial Records, illustrated by Harry Clarke, hidden away in two granite bookrooms. To access them, you need to call the park attendant in advance… but it’s well worth the effort!

Details: Islandbridge; 01 677-0236; www.heritageireland.ie

3. Jam Art Factory

Jm Art Factory.jpg
Jam Art Factory, Dublin

So many of us are trying to buy a little more Irish these days, and the Jam Art Factory (with two locations on Patrick Street and in Temple Bar) helps you do just that. It's great for finding birthday or Christmas gifts that are designed and made in Ireland… and aren't terribly twee or typical. Sure, where else are you going to find fine art prints inspired by Father Ted?

Details: 14 Crown Alley, Temple Bar; 01 616-5671; www.jamartfactory.com

4. The Merchants’ Market

Merchants' Market, Dublin

There are two reasons why the Merchant's Market will make you fall in love with Dublin all over again. First, there are the wonderful characters you'll meet and chat with as you're wandering through the stalls. A few months ago, for example, I picked up a sweet little bar cart for the paltry price of twenty quid and a half-hour of my time listening to its life story from a wizened old woman sipping what seemed to be an endless cup of tea. Second, all the treasures you'll shlep home with you, destined for a lick of paint and a new home in your doer-upper.

Details: East Wall Road; 01 819-9999; www.merchantsmarket.moonfruit.com

5. The Royal Hibernian Gallery

Coppa, RHA.jpg
Coppa, at the Royal Hibernian Gallery, Dublin.

Despite being so centrally located, the Royal Hibernian Academy is easy to miss - tucked up as it is at the end of Ely Place. The large modern art gallery hosts progressive and thought-provoking contemporary exhibits, with a good mix of both Irish and international artists – but the gallery comes with a pair of bonuses too.

Firstly, there’s the new Inreda shop. It replaced the former Irish Design Shop, and is filled with lovely Scandinavian-inspired design. Secondly, there’s the bright cafe Coppa, perfect for a lunchtime break. I'm personally very partial to their roasted butternut squash, beetroot and goat's cheese sandwiches - but the homemade Italian sausage sandwich is a close second!

Details: 15 Ely Place; 01 661-2558; www.rhagallery.ie

6. Number 29 Georgian House Museum

For a big cultural hit in a small package, there’s little to beat Georgian Museum at 29 Lower Fitzwilliam Street. The house has been gorgeously restored and furnished with artefacts from the late 1700s and early 1800s, providing a fascinating reminder of what life was like for both the upper and lower classes in those days.

Those Georgian homes look so stately from the outside, but the basement servant quarters are a fascinating reminder that not everyone inhabiting them was living a lavish lifestyle. The housekeeper would have lived in the basement, keeping the fires lit and the food roasting, the governess was likely in the attic with the children, and the rest of the servants were out in the coach house. A busy operation altogether!

Details: 29 Fitzwilliam St. Lwr; 01 702-6163; www.esb.ie/numbertwentynine

More info: Emily Westbrooks & Julie Matkin’s Delightful Dublin (€9) is available now as an ebook.

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