Southern Ireland - A 10 Day Itinerary from Dublin

May the Road Rise Up to Meet You - Go n-éirí an bóthar leat chun bualadh leat

In Dublin’s Fair City

Unearthed Walking Tour

Our 10 day road trip around the highlights of Southern Ireland begins where many others who have travelled this road before us began – in Dublin’s Fair City.

I always find arriving in a new city quite a challenge.  You don’t know your way around.  How is it best to spend your time?   Where’s good to eat?  It’s so much better if you know someone who lives there who can give you a warm welcome and show you around.

We took a walking tour with Unearthed Tours.  Ciaran runs a couple of 2.5 hour walking tours a day – at 11am and 2pm.  His tours are entertaining and very informative – a great way to get yourself orientated, find out the places you would most like to  visit on the rest of your stay and discover where the locals like to hang out.

The meeting point is by the Wolfe Tone Sculpture at the entrance of St Stephen’s Green opposite The Shelbourne Hotel.   Look for the purple umbrella.  The tour is free, but Ciaran suggests a donation of 10 euros per person..  We felt it was worth a bit more than that for all the valuable tips he gave us, for the laughs we shared and – most of all – for the warm welcome into a new City we arrived in search of.

On your tour, you will pass by all the famous Dublin landmarks:

  • St. Stephen’s Green
  • Grafton Street
  • Trinity College
  • College Green/Old House of Parliament
  • Molly Malone Statue
  • O’Connell Bridge
  • Temple Bar
  • Christ Church
  • Dublin Castle

Dublin isn’t a large city. Everything you want to see is within easy walking distance.  Mind you – we did clock up 16 kilometres on our first day, so be sure to wear a comfortable pair of shoes.

Dublin - Molly Malone's Statue
Molly Malone's Statue - 1 rub for luck - 2 is just greedy?!

The Guinness Storehouse

You can’t really come to Dublin without visiting the Guinness Storehouse.  It is expensive though at over 20 euros a ticket and in my view didn’t give you a huge amount of information beyond how a pint of Guinness is brewed, transported and marketed.

I would have liked to know much more about the Guinness family.  I learned that the founding family had an eye watering 21 children –  11of whom died.  I also learned that such was the confidence of the founder in his brew that he took out a 9000 year lease on the land where the storehouse was built.  It would have been interesting to learn much more about the family and the business side of the venture though.

Tips for Future Travellers

The tour ends on the 7th floor where a free pint of Guinness is pulled for you while you take in the panoramic view over Dublin.  

My best advice is to time your visit towards the end of the day, hoover up the plentiful supply of unused Guinness tokens that litter the tables up there and take the sting out of your entrance fee by consuming as many free drinks as you choose. 

Dublin The Guinness Storehouse
Dublin The Guinness Storehouse
Dublin The Guinness Storehouse
Dublin The Guinness Storehouse

Temple Bar

Talk a walk down the full length of Temple Bar to see the not particularly impressive spire/needle built to commemorate the Millennium in 2002 on the other side of the river.  It is colloquially known as the Stiffy by the Liffey or the Erection by the Intersection and was built at the massive cost of 4 million European euros.  Maybe ponder on how many much needed houses could have been built with that cash instead?

As you walk down Temple Bar, the price of a pint falls at an exponential rate as you reach the area where the locals “go on the gargle”.

Dublin - The Stiffy by the Liffey
The Not Very Impressive Stiffy by the Liffey

The Irish Emigration Museum - EPIC

The Irish Emigration Museum is somewhere you can maybe pass an hour or so – especially if it is raining (which it often is!).  Look out for the 10% discount code on the tourist flyers around the city.

Some of the stories told through interactive ‘choose the story you want to hear’ style exhibits are quite harrowing – but there is a large section devoted to everyone Irish that’s ever made it good towards the end of the Museum which helps to lift the spirits a bit.

The General Post Office

The General Post Office – destroyed except for the facade during the 1916 Easter Rising has a small museum about the unique place of this building in Ireland’s violent history.

The Book of Kells

Of course you could – and probably you should – go to Trinity College and view the justifiably famous Book of Kells – the ancient original illuminated manuscript containing the four Gospels of the New Testament in Latin.

You could also visit the very beautiful library while you were there.

Or – you could save yourself 18 euros per person and the queuing time and look at the replica held at the Bank pub instead?  Your choice – guess what we did?!

I’ll give you a clue – I don’t have any photos of the library.

Dublin - The Book of Kells Replica - The Bank
The Book of Kells Replica - The Bank

Where to Eat in Dublin

We spent 4 nights in Dublin over the course of our 10 day road trip – 2 at the beginning and 2 at the end.  With hindsight, it was too many days – there just wasn’t enough to do in Dublin to keep us interested for that long really.    

It is always nice to explore new places to eat and drink when you are away on a trip though.  Of course, there are countless places to choose from in Dublin.  I can only vouch for the 3 we tried:

Il Vicoletto – a clattery trattoria style of Italian restaurant which is a favourite with locals.

Roly’s Bistro – A 20 minute walk (or a short taxi ride if you prefer) out of the centre of town into the rather upmarket area of Dublin 4.  They do great meat pies here (among other tempting options) and there is a good vibe/atmosphere.

Pichet – a modern Irish bistro with a heavy french influence was also a good choice.

Dublin - Roly's Bistro
Roly’s Bistro - Try one of their lovely pies

Now I love mashed potato me – and enjoyed my portion at Pichet.  I couldn’t help but think as I was eating though about the great injustice of the Irish Potato Famine.

It is estimated that the Famine caused about 1 million deaths between 1845 and 1851 either from starvation or hunger-related diseases like thymus and dissentry that impact on poor, malnourished populations.  During this awful time, rents continued to have to be paid to landlords in England which obviously did little to improve relations.

Where to Hear Live Music

Try O’Neills  or – if you want to eat beforehand – maybe Darkey Kellys?   Darkey Kellys is a popular place to hang out though and gets pretty crowded, so arrive early if you want to grab a table to yourself.There are no doubt many more venues – but our stay in Dublin’s city was only short.

If you are lucky, you might hear a barber shop group rehearsing for their next gig in the street.  We were treated to a few minutes of happy toe tapping courtesy of The Ramparts.  Thanks guys!