There’s a lot to love about Dublin. People flock to Irelands capital city to see attractions like the Guinness Brewery, which is now a major museum with its own posh bar. In their hast to see all the historical sights, sometimes they overlook the simpler pleasures the city has to offer. I’d like to offer up three unique things that I like most about Dublin.
The Palace Bar, located on Fleet Street is a Victorian gem of a pub. Poets and writers have sought out The Palace Bar as a source of spirits and inspiration since 1823.
A word of caution, however. This is not one of the more trendy bars in Dublin. The Palace is strictly old-school. The bar has not changed its décor in its 190 years. The snug, warm interior gives you the feeling that as long as you have a pint of the black stuff in your hand, all is right with the world.
The Palace Bar’s association with Dublin’s literary tradition continues to this day. Poet-laureate Seamus Heaney drops in for the occasional pint and it is still popular with newsmen from the Irish Times, whose offices are just around the corner. Even a lowly travel blogger like myself absorbs inspiration from its wooden tables.
Continuing the literary theme, Dublin probably has more cozy book stores (did I just say cozy?) than most cities its size. One of the best is Books Upstairs. Established in 1978, Books Upstairs is still run by Maurice Earls, one of its two founders. “From day one, we have been committed to selling good books and we have tried to stick with this idea ever since,” says Maurice. “Working closely with Ruth Kenny (who has managed the shop for over 15 years) and a dedicated staff, our bookshop has built a strong reputation for the quality and breadth of its stock.” Books Upstairs is now recognized as the leader in a number of fields in the humanities, and has an offering of great books at exceptional prices.
Finally it might seem a little odd, but I love the narrow cobblestone streets that still exist in parts of Dublin. A photographer friend of mine, Greg, explained that the reason so many of the ancient streets and structures are still in place is because Dublin was not as badly touched during the bombings of WWII as London. They had Great Britain in between to buffer the damages. As with most cities, the narrow streets are best late at night and early in the morning.