Monday 16 July 2018

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Irish itinerary: What they're doing, and how you can do it too

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex are Dublin-bound. Here's our travel editor's guide to their flying visit...

Composite image of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Photo: Getty) with Trinity College's Old Library in the background (Photo: Fáilte Ireland).
Composite image of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle (Photo: Getty) with Trinity College's Old Library in the background (Photo: Fáilte Ireland).
The famine memorial on Custom House Quay. Photo: Tara Morgan/Fáilte Ireland
Epic Ireland: Inside Dublin's newest visitor experience. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile
Epic Ireland: Walking through the vaults of the CHQ building in Dublin's newest tourist attraction. Photo: Epic Ireland.
Jerseys in the dressing room at Croke Park
The Croke Park Stadium Tour
GAA Museum
Ericsson skyline tour, Croke Park
Dogpatch Labs - supported by Ulster Bank
The Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin (Photo: Fáilte Ireland)
Pól Ó Conghaile

Pól Ó Conghaile

The itinerary has been revealed for Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's Dublin visit on July 11-12. Here's how you can follow in their footsteps...

1. Croke Park

"Over the course of the trip, Their Royal Highnesses will meet the people of Dublin and will visit organisations which are central to Irish life," according to the official website of the British Royal Family (royal.uk).

This will include what's being dubbed as "a Gaelic sports festival" at Croke Park, home of the GAA and Ireland's hurling and Gaelic football cathedral.

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Cian Nolan guiding a stadium tour at Croke Park

What's a visit like?

Regular punters can go 'backstage' with a stadium tour, taking visitors from player tunnels to pitchside pass-bys and the highest reaches of the Cusack Stand.

The 1.5 hour tour takes in a galaxy of GAA culture, construction stats and legendary characters ("it looks like there's a bit of a shemozzle in the paralellagram," as one quote from Micheál Ó hEithir, who commented on 99 All Ireland finals, goes).

While you're there, don't miss the GAA Museum, crammed with memorabilia (highlights range from Michael Cusack's blackthorn stick to Muhammad Ali's shorts). You can test your football and hurling skills with interactive displays, too.

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Ericsson skyline tour, Croke Park

Finally, there is the Ericsson Skyline Tour, which takes visitors atop of the Cusack, Hogan and Davin stands on specially-constructed metal platforms. 17 storeys up, the panorama stretches from Dublin Airport to the Wicklow Mountains... and an associated, augmented reality app has just been launched to boot.

How much does it cost?

The GAA Museum costs €7 for adults, €5 for kids, and €18 for families.

Stadium tours cost €14/€9/€38. The Ericsson Skyline Tour costs €20/€12/€52 (both tours take around 1.5 hours, and include museum admission). Tours run adjusted schedules on match days (read what it's like to visit Croke Park here).

More info: crokepark.ie

2. Trinity College & Book of Kells

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Pol O Conghaile queues for the Book of Kells

"During their visit to Dublin, Their Royal Highnesses will learn about Ireland's culture and heritage," we're told, "including a visit to Trinity College, where they will see the Book of Kells, one of Ireland's greatest cultural treasures."

What's a visit like?

The Book of Kells is one of Ireland's top tourist attractions, with queues to match. Over 980,000 visitors lined up to see the ninth-century manuscript last year, paying up to €14 a pop to see an exhibition, the Long Room and the book itself.

Panels illustrate the amazing craftsmanship required to transform rough strips of vellum (calfskin) into a glittering religious manuscript, and the book itself is propped open in a glass case. Despite this screen-dominated age, it is spellbinding.

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The Old Library at Trinity College, Dublin (Photo: Fáilte Ireland)

€14 seems expensive, but there's depth to the exhibition, and the Long Room sees 200,000 tomes stacked beneath a barrel-vaulted ceiling like something out of Hogwarts. Other treasures include a copy of the 1916 Proclamation.

How much does it cost?

Tickets for the Old Library and Book of Kells cost €11 off-peak and €14 during peak hours, with family tickets from €28. Children under 12 go free.

More info: tcd.ie/library

3. The Famine Memorial

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The famine memorial on Custom House Quay. Photo: Tara Morgan/Fáilte Ireland

"The Duke and Duchess will also have a moment for reflection at the Famine Memorial," according to the British Royal Family.

What's a visit like?

Set along Custom House Key just next to the IFSC, the haunting bronze figures depicted in Rowan Gillespie's 'Famine' look like the walking dead.

Commissioned by Norma Smurfit and presented to the city in 1997, the sculpture is hugely affecting. Figures of exaggerated height with sunken eyes and rags dripping off their skeletal frames seem to lumber eternally towards some ghost famine ship... that you can walk among them makes this horrible history seem closer than ever.

Nearby, look out for the World Poverty Stone, a limestone memorial commissioned to mark the UN International Day for the Eradication of World Poverty in 1987.

How much does it cost?

Visits are free.

More info: dublindocklands.ie; rowangillespie.com.

4. EPIC, The Irish Emigration Museum

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Epic Ireland: Walking through the vaults of the CHQ building in Dublin's newest tourist attraction. Photo: Epic Ireland.

Prince Harry and Meghan Markle will also visit EPIC, the Irish Emigration Museum, "telling the story of the 10 million Irish people who have emigrated across the world."

What's a visit like?

When it opened in 2016, the €15 million EPIC was Dublin's biggest new tourist attraction since the Guinness Storehouse.

The museum tells the stories of those who left the island of Ireland, and how they influenced and shaped the world, with a host of interactive exhibitions and galleries set in the brick vaults of the chq Building on Custom House Quay.

Designed by Event Communications, the designers of Titanic Belfast, galleries are organised into themes of migration, motivation, influence and connection, and has been described to me as "a real deep dive into the Irish DNA".

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Epic Ireland: Inside Dublin's newest visitor experience. Photo: Pól Ó Conghaile

Some 70 living characters are included among the galleries, ranging from Magdelene daughter Mari Steed to Graham Norton and President Barack Obama.

A rogues' gallery evokes characters like Ned Kelly and Typhoid Mary, whilst others celebrate the achievements of scientists like Ernest Walton, musicians like Morrissey, and literary giants ranging from Bram Stoker to Edna O'Brien.

How much does it cost?

Adults cost €14, children €7 and families €35.

More info: epicchq.com

5. Dogpatch Labs

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Dogpatch Labs - supported by Ulster Bank

"Their Royal Highnesses will also learn more about the bright future of Ireland during their time in Dublin, with a visit to DogPatch Labs, a co-working space for technology start-ups," the British Royal Family's official website reveals.

"Here, The Duke and Duchess will meet children and young people taking part in free coding workshops, and will also have the opportunity to talk to female tech entrepreneurs."

The start-up hub hosts some 87 emerging businesses, with alumni ranging from Instagram to Intercom, Boxever, Voysis, Twilio, Logentries & Profitero.

It is not open to the public (unless you have a whizz idea for an app, perhaps), but you can walk past the labs while passing through the chq Building.

 If Prince Harry and Meghan Markle get peckish at this stage, we'd suggest grabbing one of the best burgers in Dublin at Ely bar and grill just around the corner.

More info: dogpatchlabs.com

6. The British Ambassador's Residence

"The Duke and Duchess will also attend a summer garden party at the British Ambassador's residence, where they will meet people from across Ireland's arts, sports, military and social enterprise sectors," we're told.

How much does it cost?

Glencairn House is not open to the public, unsurprisingly.

Read more:

The Dublin Bucket List: 30 things to do in the city before you die

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