There’s Good Reason Eyes are Smiling
The city of James Joyce, U2 and smiling Irish Eyes, Dublin is one of those perfect introductory cities to Europe for someone who's never been. English-speaking, friendly locals, great shopping, prized pubbing and centuries of history make for a memory-filled first visit.
The city is easily walkable. The Temple Bar might seem like a place to enjoy a pint, when in fact it's "Dublin's cultural quarter." The area has a preserved its medieval street pattern, with narrow, cobblestone streets (you know, the charming kind.) Tourists and locals come for the incredible nightlife.
One can't (or can) sample stout all day, which is why the erudite can seek solace downtown at Trinity College. Founded in 1592, it's a focal point for the Irish art scene and home to The Book of Kells. This world-famous manuscript produced by Celtic Monks in 800 AD is a prime example of Insular Art. This style from Ireland and Britail was completely different than that of mainland Europe, and takes its name from the Latin insula – meaning “island.”
Ireland has its share of renowned writers: Oscar Wilde, William Yeats, Jonathan Swift, Bernard Shaw to name a famed few. But none are more loved than native son James Joyce, who devoted his masterwork novel to the city he loved. The James Joyce Centre is a must visit, and dedicates itself to promoting an understanding of the life and works of the author. Visit Dublin on June 16 th when the city observes "Bloomsday." Cultural activities range from readings to full-on re-enactments of Ulysses, Joyce's seminal work, and, depending on whom you ask, the best book of modernist literature.
Are your feet getting tired? The Dublin City Sightseeing tour is a lifesaver. You can start with a 90-minute circuit that will give you an overview for deciding what you'd like to visit later, or hop on and off the open-air double-decker bus along the way. Your bus access is valid for a full 24-hours, so the choice is yours. See the National Gallery, Pembroke Street, The Dublin Zoo, (the original) St. Patrick's Cathedral and so much more of the Irish capital.
Now the traveling details. If flying into Dublin, you can reach the city center via cab or bus service. If you bring a ferry from the UK, you will most likely land at Dun Laoghaire (pronounced like Done Leery) from Holyhead, Wales. Across the street from the ferry terminal at Dun Laoghaire there's a DART station. This commuter rail service will take you right into the city center. If you arrive into the Dublin city port by ferry from Holyhead, you can take a bus to the Dublin Busarus (or Central Bus Station), which is located right outside the Dublin Connolly station.
Dublin 's Connolly station opened in 1844 and has seen many changes since that time, including sustaining a direct bomb hit during World War II. Viewing the ornate architecture from the street you may think you have been transported to an Italian village. But from here, with a Eurail Ireland Pass, you can catch trains headed north – to castles, golf links and as far away as Belfast in Northern Ireland in just over two hours (also trains to Wexford and Rosslare).
Dublin's Heuston station, opened in 1846, is conveniently located just five minutes from the Guinness Brewery. This is ideal, since you won't want to drive after your visit. From here, reach all points south and west of the city. Including cities of green, myth and glass. Get to Galway, birthplace of the Claddagh ring, in less than three hours. Waterford, home to the world-famous crystal factory is clearly in your sights in just over two hours. The two main stations are connected via the efficient Luas tram system.
Joyce writes of Dublin, “Plenty to see and hear and feel yet.” Bring your senses.
Contributed by: Melissa, a member of our Product Team, who has traveled by train in 5 European countries and is always planning her next adventure.