A-Z OF DUBLIN

Ha Penny Bridge
With students wanting to travel further and further afield nowadays, it would be easy for most to overlook visiting Dublin. However there’s every reason to explore the Republic of Ireland’s lively capital, especially if you’re a fan of Guinness. With this in mind Impact travel lists its top attractions in Dublin:

GUINNESS STOREHOUSE

Whether a fan of the Irish stout or not, the Guinness Storehouse is Dublin’s most loved tourist attraction. Located on seven floors at St. James’s Gate Brewery, highlights include a step by step guide of the brewing process, an insight into the company’s advertising and sponsorship campaigns, and an opportunity to pour the perfect pint. Make sure you finish your visit relaxing over a glass of the black stuff in the Gravity Bar where you can admire panoramic views of the city.

NATIONAL GALLERY OF IRELAND

For art lovers, a trip to the National Gallery of Ireland is essential. The museum’s collection includes 2,500 paintings and 10,000 other works of some of the world’s most famous names, such as Caravaggio, van Gogh and Monet. There’s also major works from Irish artists Jack B. Yeats and Louis le Brocquy, and to top that off, it’s free to visit too.

ST. PATRICK’S DAY FESTIVAL

Remarkably, people celebrate St. Patrick’s Day all over the world, and whilst there is much fun to be had in drinking an overpriced, warm pint of Guinness in a wannabe Irish pub halfway across the world, why not celebrate it in Ireland’s capital? They don’t just celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in Dublin either; they make a whole weekend of it, with the highlight being the St. Patrick’s Day Parade. Next year’s celebration takes place on the 14th-17th of March.

BOOK OF KELLS AND TRINITY COLLEGE

For those of you who love exploring the history of a city, make sure you see the Book of Kells. The manuscript can be found in the Old Library at Trinity College and contains the four Gospels of the New Testament, all written in Latin. Afterwards take a walk around the grounds of Trinity College – Dublin’s equivalent to Oxford and Cambridge universities.

KILMAINHAM GAOL

Chosen by Trip Advisor as the top attraction in Ireland for 2014, a trip to Dublin won’t be complete until you visit Kilmainham Gaol. Formerly a prison, it is now a museum where visitors can take a tour of the spooky location and learn about how it played a crucial role in Ireland gaining independence.

FOOD

Part of the joy of visiting other cities has to be trying all the local delicacies on offer. One traditional hearty Dublin dish is the Coddle: a sausage, bacon, onion and potato hot pot. Expect to also find a wealth of Guinness based stews, pies and cakes, and make sure you warm up with an Irish coffee on cold days.

Phoenix Park
PARKS

Take a walk around the beautiful deer-filled Phoenix Park, home to Dublin Zoo and Áras an Uachtaráin; the official residence of the president of Ireland. Entrance to the park is free, however there is a charge to visit the zoo. If you want to go to a more central park, head to St Stephen’s Green, and visit the Shopping Centre while you’re there if you’re in need of some retail therapy.

DUBLINIA

Dublinia is an interactive museum based upon Dublin’s Viking and Medieval history. The museum is a fun way to learn about the city’s past and includes special Halloween exhibits, as well as various living history events and themed exhibitions throughout the year.

Aviva Stadium
SPORT

Dublin is a great sporting city and the perfect place to watch a game. The Aviva Stadium, which opened in 2010, is the home of Ireland’s national football and rugby teams. It will also host four matches in Euro 2020, so there’s every opportunity to watch some of the best sports stars in the world. If you’re up for an unusual experience, head to Croke Park for some Gaelic football, or if sport isn’t your thing, take the Skyline Tour where you can enjoy fantastic views of the city from five viewing platforms.

BARS

If you’re unsure about where to spend your evenings in Dublin, head to the Temple Bar district. Here the pubs and clubs are focused around tourists, so expect slightly inflated drinks prices. Try the area in the day and you’ll find a wealth of cultural attractions, from stunning architecture to one of Ireland’s smallest theatres; The New Theatre, and a wealth of galleries and arts centres.

 

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Galway, Ireland’s most Irish city

 

Galway map

Known as Ireland’s most Irish city, Galway is making a name as its cultural capital. Located 210 km west of Dublin, at the edge of Europe, the city’s remote coastal position has not deterred visitors that over the years have included Christopher Columbus, John F. Kennedy and the Spanish Armada.

Also known as “the city of tribes” after the 14 merchant families that ruled between the 13th and 19th centuries, Galway has the highest concentration of native Irish speakers. It is the birthplace of James Joyce’s wife and muse Nora Barnacle.

The university draws youth into this medieval city whose arts and music scenes are thriving despite Ireland’s near economic collapse and painful austerity policies.

Live music is standard fare in the pubs, so don’t be surprised if a group begins what looks to be a spontaneous session.

Galway’s festival season that used to run from May to October is expanding to meet the demands of increasing tourist traffic. The city is preparing for science and visual arts festivals in November and the Continental Christmas Market.

Here are tips for getting the most out of the Galway area from Reuters, whose 2,600 journalists in all parts of the world offer visitors the best local insights.

Embracing the weather

Mark Twain could have been talking about Galway instead of New England when he said “if you don’t like the weather just wait a few minutes” as you’ll need to pack sunglasses and an umbrella for the daily rain, hail and sunshine.

Nestled in the Galway Bay, the combined effects of the Atlantic ocean and Twelve Pins mountains mean the weather is far from boring.

The city is a gateway to the rugged Connemara region, while the wild ocean is a favorite among water sports enthusiasts.

Connemara

One of Galway’s assets is its compact size. Its historic landmarks are conveniently located with 10 minutes’ walk of each other, meaning they can all be visited in an afternoon. Galway is best explored by foot as public transport is limited.

Following the Salthill promenade walk, which begins at the edge of the city near the Spanish Arch – built in 1584 as an extension of the city’s ancient walls – you will see the Claddagh area, which is famous for its old Irish wedding jewelry, and the three beaches of Salthill, an old seaside resort.

The hills of Clare can be seen on the walk and on a good day the Aran Islands – Ireland’s most famous islands – that can be visited from Ros a’ Mhl, a port 23 miles west of Galway.

By the end of the seaside walk visitors should follow locals who “kick the wall” – a tradition whose origins are unknown – before turning back, and for the brave, a refreshing dip into the bay off the Blackrock diving boards is a must.

In a city surrounded and divided by water, those looking for a river tour can take the Corrib Princess from Wood Quay to Lough Corrib, Ireland’s second largest lake.

Visitors & Merchants

Galway’s high-profile visitors have been making their mark for centuries so to retrace their steps start with a visit to the central square (Eyre Square to locals) renamed Kennedy Memorial Park after a visit from the U.S. president.

Galway Eyre Square

From there, meander down Shop Street – a pedestrianized walkway where you can buy Claddagh jewelry, Aran sweaters and other Irish goods.

Midway down the street you’ll find Lynch’s Castle, once home to one of the most powerful tribes in the city but now a bank.

While some visitors might be drawn by Galway’s cathedral whose green copper dome can be seen from many vantages of the city, locals favor St. Nicholas Cathedral where Christopher Columbus is believed to have stopped and prayed in 1477.

Two minutes from the church is the family home of Nora Barnacle which claims to be the smallest museum in the country.

From there a walk along the river Corrib will take you to the Bridge Mills, built over 400 years ago, which is the start of “The West” where trendy bars, coffee shops and restaurants have emerged, creating a booming food culture.

Artisan Haven

Although by this time of year the oyster and theater festivals have been and gone, the city’s new identity as an artisan haven means any time is a good time to visit.

Galway Music

It took a while to develop but Galway is now a city of foodies. Whether it’s the Michelin starred Aniar, McCambridges deli and restaurant or Kai that has just been named Ireland’s restaurant of the year, Galway is winning awards for showcasing Irish produce.

On Saturday the Galway market, held outside St. Nicholas Cathedral, bustles with stalls selling anything from doughnuts, to falafel to madras pea and potato curry.

Queues can be long for the cities favorite eateries at peak times of day.

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