Doing Dublin (again!)

Back at the end of February, I was fortunate to spend a weekend in Dublin catching up with friends and exploring in and around the Irish capital. On a previous visit to the Emerald Isle (see here) I had done a walking tour and seen some of the capital’s top sights and so on this trip I was hoping to see some more of the city as well as some of the nearby towns.

Bray Head, as seen from the north end of Bray

Having congregated in a bar off of O’Connell Street, our first stop was JW Sweetman, a pub and restaurant on the banks of the Liffey at the south end of O’Connell bridge. Sticking with my strategy of trying local dishes when I’m travelling, I opted for the Dublin Coddle, a dish which is traditionally made up of leftovers. Generally, a coddle consists of sausage, bacon, potatoes, onion, and herbs and is braised in stock. Quick and inexpensive to make, a coddle is seen as Irish comfort food and the one I had was absolutely delicious.

My accommodation for the weekend was found and booked via AirBnB, however upon arrival I discovered that Doheny House is an independent Bed and Breakfast and it is possible to book directly with them rather than a third party. Unfortunately they don’t have a website, however all their contact details are on google. This accommodation was some of the cheapest I could find within Dublin itself, and it was conveniently located with a bus stop round the corner which was a short ride from Dame Street and Trinity College. The BnB was also just a five-minute walk from the LUAS Green Line and the stop for the 757 Airport Express bus.

A number of whiskey barrels sit at the entrance to the Irish Whiskey Museum

The main ‘touristy’ activity that we undertook was a tour and whiskey tasting at the Irish Whiskey Museum. Despite a slight issue with our booking (meaning we had to wait in the Museum’s bar for an hour), I found the tour to be good value for money. The standard tour is €20 including three Irish whiskeys to taste, whilst there is a reduced price of €16 for non-drinking adults. The tour takes you through the history of Irish Whiskey from its early days as the Water of Life through to its glory days and subsequent fall and recovery. The museum is on the corner of Dame Street and Grafton Street and is a short walk from bus and LUAS stops.

After an evening of Whiskey and an early night following the early start, it was just a short walk from my BnB to our breakfast location, Brother Hubbard South. As seems to be tradition for my trips abroad, this breakfast location was found after a quick online search for top brunch spots and after a quick review of the menu, Brother Hubbard quickly made its way to the top of the list. I opted for the delicious seasonal pancakes which were served with a poached quince compote, spiced apple mascarpone, toffee sauce and toasted almonds. For less than €20 I got my fill of food, juice and coffee and was ready for our next adventure.

The delicious seasonal pancakes certainly filled a hole

A short tram ride north and we were at Tara St station, ready to jump on Dublin’s metro style rail network, the DART. Stretching beyond the northern and southern edges of the city limits, the DART provides a regular service connecting the towns and settlements between Malahide and Howth in the north to Bray and Greystones. Having heard from former Dublin locals of the picturesque ride along the coast south of the city, and the stunning scenery of Bray Bay, we decided to clear the cobwebs and head south to the town of Bray for a walk along the sea front and see what it had to offer.

Bray is about 12 miles south of Dublin and is at the mouth of the River Dargle and the meeting of the muddy waters of the river and the clearer waters of the Irish Sea were clearly visible just outside the mouth of Bray Harbour. Bray is one of the key holiday resorts close to Dublin and even on the chilly February day we visited, it was clear to see why as the long beach and good weather certainly made a visit worthwhile.

The meeting of the River Dargle and Irish Sea is clearly visible outside Bray harbour

After our adventure south to Bray, we headed back to the city and after jumping on the LUAS Red Line, discovered O’Sheas Merchant & Ned O’Sheas bar to camp in to watch the all-important Six Nations rugby match between England and Ireland. This was the first time I had watched a sporting fixture deep in ‘enemy territory’, however my fears of standing out were soon allayed as a much louder group of English fans were welcomed by the locals to watch the thrilling match. I found O’Sheas to be a very chilled and homely bar which was very comfortable to watch the game and, although I didn’t try any, the food on offer smelt and looked absolutely delicious.

With an early start ahead of me to get to the airport, I decided to have a chilled evening and headed to one of the northern extremities of the DART, Howth, to see what this port town had to offer. Howth is under the approach to one of Dublin’s runways and so I had seen the town from above on both of my arrivals into the city. With my visit to the town being quite late on a Sunday evening, not much was open, however I was able to get some fresh Seafood Chowder from one of the many seafood restaurants and takeaways on the harbour front. Along with delicious seafood, Howth is home to a castle and Ye Olde Hurdy Gurdy Museum of Vintage Radio, and so certainly somewhere I want to return to during the day to explore

Some of the fishing fleet at Howth Harbour

My long weekend in the Irish capital was certainly relaxed and it was great to try out some of the local food spots as well as exploring some of the nearby towns and seeing more of the Irish countryside and coast. As with my previous visit to Dublin, I found the people to be extremely friendly and welcoming and I can’t wait to return to Ireland and explore even more of what it has to offer.

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