Dublin Castle

My lovely flat over looks Dublin Castle, and it has taken me nearly two years to go in and actually visit it. I really regret that it took that long. I mean, I could have taken all my guests there instead of the Guinness Storehouse. I mean, I love the Storehouse but it would have been great to mix it up a bit, but it took my friend who has visited me five times to actually go.  She’s a massive history geek so perfect time to go and check it out.

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The tour was great, we were lucky in the sense that we rocked up at the right time without having looked it up at all and were able to get on the guided tour. It’s only €10 each for the guided or €7 for the self guided. The guided was about an hour and 20 min, with a tour guide who was informative and a good laugh, exactly what you need when you are wondering round looking at old stuff.

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With the guided tour you get to see the State Apartments, where the likes of Mandela and Queen Elizabeth II have been hosted. The Viking Excavation, which I personally love. Though it should be noted that this is not wheelchair accessible. It’s really interesting to see this part of Dublin’s history as it can be forgotten about sometimes. I think it was during a renovations that they found these chambers; you will view the Castle’s medieval curtain wall with a postern gate. But again, you can now explore but only if you take the guided tour, it’s well worth it. The Chapel Royal got it’s name after King George IV attended mass in 1821, though it is not the largest chapel in Dublin it’s architecture is fantastic. The coats of arms representing many of Ireland’s Viceroy which nerdy Felicity really enjoys! The tour guide is definitely the one who makes it so interesting which is why I would always push someone to spend the extra €3 and dot his one instead of the self guided.

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On top of all this you can see the exhibitions. Obviously this will change depending on when you go. And if I am honest we didn’t go, I was too busy dying from the flu (and yes, real flu, not man flu) but the things you do for friends when they make the effort to come see you!

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Lemon and Duke, Dublin

You know yourself, sometimes you just find a place that you fall in love with the second you go in – well the Lemon and Duke is mine. Having been taken there by The Boy as Jamie Heaslip, Sean O’Brien, Rob Keraney and Dave Kearney (Ireland Rugby players if you didn’t know) own it, it has since become a favourite.

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The setup is a chic, vintage, cocktail feel. But it’s so much more.

It’s Guinness is smooth, refreshing and most importantly clean. You would be surprised the number of pubs and bars that don’t clean their lines which makes the beer dank and well, gross! It’s the perfect place to go to after work for a couple. Or, as it’s just off Grafton Street, the perfect place to duck into when your shopping, it’s the best form of bribery if you are with someone who doesn’t enjoy shopping! 😉

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They have their “Tank Beer”, which they also have in The Bridge 1859, a fresh, unpasteurised Pilsner Urquell. It’s so nice! Plus, if you go on match day when Ireland is playing you might have a chance of winning an Ireland Rugby signed jersey. They give you a raffle ticket for every pint you buy during the match. When I went we edged our bets and 7 pints later, between two I might add, our number, “126”, was called! Even better that The Boy was wearing is England jersey at the time. They all took it well and everyone had a great laugh. Another thing that makes the L&D so great is it’s staff members. All helpful, kind, and great craic.

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Though I know they do food, I have only ever had chips –  they are my kryptonite what do you expect! They are AMAZING with their dip and crispiness. My friend has had the children’s (don’t judge!) chicken goujons and chips. She seemed to enjoy them. But more importantly, the staff got them for her, none of this “but you’re an adult”, they just gave it to her as that is all she fancied. I swear we are grownups, even if we only wanted the picking, bad for us, foods.

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It’s open seven days a week serving brunch (well they say brunch they open at midday which in my eyes really is just lunch but whatever), lunch and dinner. Their little bit outside gets the sun in the afternoon/evening, making it a fab place for a post work beer.

Head down, say hi and get an ice cold beer (or cocktail, or coffee…..)

 

Trinity College, The University of Dublin

Conveniently Trinity College is all of about 10 minutes from my flat (the advantage of living so central!). I spend a lot of time just wondering though, I just love the grounds. But when you go, do remember though that this is someone’s place of learning – do try not to get in their way when you are taking pictures, it’s just not fair on them!

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Trinity was established in 1592, and currently ranked 88th in the world. It’s got a long history, you can just sense it as you walk through the door. The first “site” you will see is the Campanile of Trinity College. It was donated by the Archbishop of Armagh and completed in 1853. It stands at nearly 100-foot-tall, with the four figures at the bottom represent Divinity, Law, Medicine, and Science. If you study there don’t walk under it when the bells ring, superstition says you will fail your exams!

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The “Sfera con Sfera” or ‘Pomodoro sphere’ as it is known locally was donated by Arnaldo Pomodoro and made in 1983. It is located in front of the Berkeley Library. There are similar structures in New York, Berkeley, Tehran and Rome. In 2008, it went through a massive conservation project to get it back to the lovely shin of when it was first constructed!

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The Book of Kells is the most famous medieval manuscript and is located in the heart of Trinity Collage! And it’s well worth the visit, if you book online costs €13 each, €11 on the door. Though it may be more expensive to book online, I recommend if you are going in high season. It can sell out fast and you don’t want to miss out. The book of Kells consists of four Gospels, getting it’s name from the Monastery of Kells in County Meath. It is thought it was written around 800 AD. It has moved to Trinity College in 1661.

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The main chamber of the Old Library is the Long Room and is probably my favourite place in Dublin. You can just loose yourself in there. It’s nearly 65m long and holds around 200,000 of the oldest books in the Library. It really is one of the most impressive buildings I have set foot in. I would love to just read one of those books. There are marble busts that line the Long Room, depicting some of the greatest male philosophers and writers. How many do you know? Also when you first enter don’t miss one of the few remaining copies of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic.

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Have you been? What was your favourite part of Trinity? Do you study there? What’s it like?

 

My Favourite Coffee Spots, Dublin

If you didn’t realise this already I have an obsession with COFFEE!! It is my help juice, my comforter and my energiser. So naturally I love to go out for coffee. It’s a cheap date, whether with friends, family or the boy. It creates a place to chat or gives you something warming if you like to go for a walk instead. It’s the perfect pick me up. Since moving to Dublin my love for coffee has only grown. So this are my top picks (and it was a hard one to narrow down!!)

Meet Me in the Morning

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Just off Camden Road, this is the perfect gem. They have also recently opened up their take away section making it even easier to just pop in for a cuppa on the run. And it helps that their cups are super cute. The staff are also unbelievably friendly and helpful! Also, if you are peckish go for their doughnuts, or their seasonal brownie (I recently had the pumpkin brownie… for breakfast… it was incredible!)

Il Fornaio

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A small cafe based just down the road from Trinity (though they have another four dotted around), it is the perfect place to grab a coffee for a walk around the collage, or a pick me up if you are a student there. Not just is it beautifully velvet, doing the Italians proud, they give you a small amaretti biscuits to go with it. Perfect piece of Italy in Dublin.

Clement and Pekoe

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Their main cafe is based on South William Street, but they also have one within a small shop in Temple Bar, “&”. They use Climpson & Sons Coffee which is roasted in London, which is a fantastic roasters… and also nice to see something other than 3FE, not that I don’t love that roasters but good to mix it up! Their Mocha is a thing of beauty. You are presented with a mug of warm milk, with your espresso shot and a lollipop of the most amazing chocolate – mix and watch as it melts away to create the best Mocha in town!

 

Dollard and Co

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The new kid on the block… well sort of, I think it’s been opened a few months now! Getting their coffee from TwoFifity Square Coffee, they make a brilliant Flat White. Plus they open at 8am so it’s great for that walk to work. They also sell their coffee which is great if you like to have a brew a home every now and again.

 

Which is your favourite coffee spot? 

 

 

 

Howth – A Not so Hidden Gem

I finally managed to go to Howth at the weekend. And I have to say I can see why people recommend it.

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It wasn’t the sunniest of days when we went but it was still a gorgeous seaside town. Situated just outside of Dublin city centre, about 9 miles, it’s super easy to get to! The best way is to get the DART from Connolly Station. You can use your leap card or buy a return for around €6.50. You get off in the very heart of the town, right next to the harbour! It’s perfect to get out the city for a few hours/half a day, see the sea and relax! You can easily spend a lot more time there!

The best time to go is during the week. It can get incredibly busy at the weekends with tourists and locals going for a day out. Also avoid bank holiday weekends, and super sunny days. Though the latter is harder to do as, let’s be honest, everyone wants to go to the sea when it’s sunny.

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We were incredibly lucky when we got there, as there was a very cute fat seal in the water next to all the boats. These aren’t as common as you think! My friend who goes regularly, and says that Howth is her favourite place, has yet to see them. So if you don’t, don’t be disappointed, it’s just another reason to go back! Try not to feed them though, as this can cause them to become dependent on tourists food rather than hunting themselves. You can see them in the harbour and on the walk down to Howth Harbour Lighthouse.

Walking down to the lighthouse, even on a windy day, is lovely to do. It’s been switched off for some years now but that doesn’t make it any less beautiful. I am a sucker for lighthouses though so I might be bias on this. From here you can see Ireland’s Eye, a small Ireland just off the North coast.

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And for all those history folk, Howth has a dramatic history, the Howth Gun Running. In July 1914, rifles were openly imported to arm the Irish Volunteers. There were civilian deaths and many wounded when police arrived due to large crowds surrounding the yacht that had bought them in.

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Getting lunch here is obviously a must! You have the classics, Leo Burdocks and Wrights Findlater but I would recommend The House. I had one of the best Seafood Chowders I’ve ever had. Filled with mussels, clams and haddock, plus some chorizo and a poached egg. Are you drooling too? It was fantastic, and so fresh. Plus a cheeky glass of white wine doesn’t go a miss. When you’re done head to The Grind for a Tea or Coffee to take away before carrying on your wondering.

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There is also an incredible walk to do, though I we didn’t do it as we lacked in time you can read all about it here. The loop is about 6km long and gives some of the best views of Howth.

Have you been to Howth? Did you get to see seals? What was your highlight?

Oxmantown – best sandwiches in Dublin

Sandwiches are probably the boys favourite food! I’m pretty sure he would have them for every meal if he could. So we are always on the look out for a new one to try.

As you walk down through Stoneybatter, you can just feel the history. You walk past the beautiful fruit and veg market. Even though there are so many places to choose from Oxmantown is a must go to. In fact, it’s probably the best sandwich town in Dublin! Plus it’s just down the road from the Luas stop. It’s only open Monday to Friday, which is heartbreaking if you work 9-5pm. But if you find yourself this side of the river, and hungry this is the place for you.

Firstly, the interior is adorable! I want that triangular shelve with those gorgeous succulents. And I love the idea of writing the menu on the tiles! Also see if you can spot Lego Homer!

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Breakfast is served 8-11am. They have the most amazing Black Pudding Sandwich, served with pickles, relish and rocket. This sandwich is soft, filling and so flavourful. The black pudding is amazing, if it wasn’t so bad for me I would try to go pre work everyday for this. They also have a BLT – crispy bacon and aioli, need I say more! Plus the BLTs are made using sourdough bread. All of this for only €5.50!

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The coffee is by Cloud Picker! Dublin’s first micro coffee roastery, established in 2013. Smooth, light and creamy, the perfect match to your morning sandwich.

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To top it off, their cakes are delicious AND reasonably priced, which is so rare to see around Dublin. We got these for takeaway as we didn’t really need them for breakfast. We went for the brownie, Pastéis de Nata, and a blueberry Madeleine. I was surprised but my absolute favourite was the Madeleine, so light and fluffy but still packed with flavour!

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Have you been? Or do you have another favourite sandwich place?

 

The Open Gate Brewery, Dublin

First of all a little disclaimer as I don’t want some people to get all antsy about it… The Boy is a Brewery at Guinness and works for the Pilot Plant which provides the beer for the OBG. But this is my view and only my view.

SOME OF THESE BEERS WILL END UP ON TAP AT YOUR LOCAL PUB OR THE FAR SIDE OF THE WORLD. OTHERS WILL NEVER LEAVE THESE WALLS.

– GUINNESS WEBSITE

If this statement isn’t motivating enough to get you try some of those exclusive beers…With seven beers on tap, rotating as and when they run out, you rarely get the same beer twice. This can be a great thing – I love to try something new, but every now and again disappointing when they don’t have one on you really liked. Though I have learnt from this and have started to get a growler to take home if I really love it. Another great aspect of the Brewery!

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Located just behind the main Storehouse it can sometimes get looked over but it’s well worth a look in. Book online for only €6. For this you obviously get your entry but also a flight of beers (or pint!) of your choice. You really can’t go wrong. Once you finish those don’t worry you aren’t just limited to the one, they have a fully functioning bar so carry on ordering away. Though sorry if you’re travelling with kids, this is a strictly over 18s venue! It is also now Wednesday-Friday, adding another day just before summer.

I enjoy going in and being surprised by what they have in – see if I can find that beer to fit my mood, normally a post rough day at work or Friday Night Drinks! But if you can’t wait they do try to update their website with what’s on. On a side note, it’s a shame that their Twitter is clearly run by a Marketing Team so the vibe of the place is never really given off. Lots of structure, less fun, and well much more marketing! And they don’t have Instagram! Clearly the thoughts of someone who enjoys their Social Media!

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The bar actually looks onto the brewery, or more realistically is part of the brewery! You can see all of the equipment, barrels and every now and again a late worker! This is great, especially if you’re as noisy as I am. But remember it’s a working brewery, so pretty much just giant stainless steel vessels, but still pretty cool to see.

Obviously I have to write about the beers so I’ve just picked a couple that I loved from my last visit –

Citra IPA – You can actually get this one in a few select pubs and bars in Dublin which is great! Lots of citrus flavours coming through from the hops with a slight pinie note. This is a great summer beer.

Hells Yeah – Unfortunately this is one of those that has left us now! I actually got the last ¾ of a pint! But it deserves a mention… Made with German Malts and Hops gives this German style beer an authentic taste. Slight malty with a little bitter edge to it. It’s well balanced, and very easy to drink!

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So whether you’re visiting with friends or live in the area, pop down to the Open Gate Brewery for a cheeky one…or two…or three