BOOK A HOT TABLE
- Join the locals at one of Dublin’s top new seafood restaurants
- Try some of the finest fish-and-chips in town
- Sample specially made craft beers from a renowned Irish brewery
Just across South Anne Street from Kehoe’s pub (see “Drink Like a Local”), Catch 22 has quickly assumed its spot as one of the top fish restaurants in the city. The breezy dining room is outfitted with maritime ephemer and beadboard walls of bleached timber, for a chic, updated take on a casual seafood joint. But it’s the food that really delivers you to the sea. The trick is to start with pristine, impeccably sourced fish and shellfish, just hours out of the water. Chefs here know to step out of the way and let that flavor shine through with simple preparations, presented on copper, tin, and enamel dishes. An addictive, complimentary amuse-bouche is set down before you’ve even ordered: a mug of crunchy fried whitebait, lightly breaded in polenta, with a tangy aioli for dipping. (Knock back that salty goodness with a Black IPA, crafted especially for Catch 22 by Carrig Brewing Company.) Move on to the plump steamed mussels in a creamy, garlicky stock, with crusty ciabatta for soaking up the broth. The shellfish pot—clams, cockles, prawns, and mussels in a tangy-spicy chorizo-and-tomato broth—is a standout main course, though the cod fish-and-chips (in a crunchy Carrig Pale Ale batter) are as good as any in Dublin. At peak meal times there’s almost always a crowd, an amiable mix of locals and out-of-towners. And while Catch 22 normally doesn’t accept bookings for less than 5 people, they’ll make an exception for Conrad guests, so ask the concierge to book ahead.
Catch 22 is a 15-minute walk from the Conrad Dublin, on bustling South
Anne Street, just off the shopping-and-nightlife strip of Grafton Street.
DRINK LIKE A LOCAL
- Grab your first pint a few blocks from the Conrad Dublin
- Visit a favorite haunt of Dublin writers and poets since the 1970s
- Finish up with a whiskey at one of the city’s oldest pubs
Dublin, of course, is full of great pubs—though with so many tourist-magnet bars, finding a more authentic hangout can be tricky. To drink with the Dubliners, explore the side lanes off Grafton Street’s pedestrian shopping strip on a leisurely afternoon midweek or on Saturdays or Sundays (but avoid Friday nights, when pubs are overrun with the after-work crowd). Or follow our lead to these beloved drinking dens, starting with Kehoe’s, just a few short blocks from the Conrad Dublin on South Anne Street, is a wood-paneled bar where regulars sit and discuss the results of the latest Gaelic football game (the Dublin team are regular champions of the All-Ireland Title). Seek out a table in the cute little snug at the front and order your drinks through a hatch (a small opening in the glass screen at the bar originally created to keep female patrons separate from rowdy male revelers at the counter). Next, head three blocks east to Grogan’s, a well-worn place frequented by a literary crowd (writer Flann O’Brien and poet Patrick Kavanagh were regulars), where works by Dublin artists adorn the walls and drinkers spill onto the street on sunny days. For something a bit more polished, finish up at the Long Hall, a short stroll away through George’s Street Arcade. This Victorian pub has a gleaming interior—Art Nouveau glass, a grand old wooden clock—and both the customers and staff love to engage out-of-towners in friendly banter. Have a snifter of whatever the barman has chosen as the whiskey of the month—it could be Greenspot or one of the many fine single pot still
whiskies from the Midleton Distillery.
Kehoe’s is on Anne Street South, on the corner where it meets Duke Lane. The red and white sign outside says “John Kehoe’s”. Grogan’s is on William Street South, right across from where it meets Coppinger Row. The Long Hall is a burgundy and white striped pub, on South Great George’s Street near to Dublin Castle.
18-19 Parnell Square
26–27 Lower Abbey Street
BEWLEY’S CAFÉ THEATRE @ Powerscourt
Top floor, Powerscourt Townhouse, S. William St.
GRAB DINNER AND A SHOW
- Start your evening with classic Irish cuisine at an elegant Michelin-starred restaurant
- Take in a show in a town that’s super-serious about its theater
Long before the appetite for pulled pork, pickles, and everything cold-pressed made its way to Dublin from the food-trend capitals of New York and London, Chapter One was confidently doing things the old-fashioned way. The Michelin-starred restaurant is in an understated, softly lit space in the basement of the Dublin Writers Museum where gilt-edged mirrors and large artworks make you sit up just a little bit straighter. And it’s our favorite spot for a pre-theater meal (pickled herring and Atlantic crab; beef short rib; dark-chocolate mousse with coffee ice cream), and the wine list highlights small producers of organic and biodynamic labels. Next up, a performance at the nearby Gate or Abbey theaters. Ireland punches above its weight when it comes to playwrights on the world stage, and both these venues regularly show works by the greats—Sean O’Casey, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, George Bernard Shaw—as well as names you may not have heard about such as John B. Keane. The venues’ websites are the best place to buy tickets and if you are savvy enough, they’re also where you can nab early-bird discounted tickets six weeks before a performance opens. In case you’re short on time and can’t fit in an evening show, an insidery alternative is Bewley’s Café Theatre @ Powerscourt in the Powerscourt Theatre, which offers bite-size one-hour performances, running most days from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
You’ll find Chapter One in Parnell Square, a beautiful Georgian Square on the north end of O’Connell Street. The Gate Theater is part of the old Rotunda Hospital complex, at 1 Cavendish Row. The Abbey Theatre is in a large modern, glass topped building on the corner of Abbey Street Lower and Marlborough Street. Bewley’s Café Theater is on the top floor of the Powerscourt Townhouse shopping center, on William Street South.
18-19 Parnell Square
26–27 Lower Abbey Street
BEWLEY’S CAFÉ THEATRE @ Powerscourt
Top floor, Powerscourt Townhouse, S. William St.
GO TO JAIL, THEN SEE SOME ART
- Explore the jail that held some of the most famous political and military prisoners in Irish history
- Visit an art museum in a magnificent —and storied — 17th-century building
While spending time in the clink may not be at the top of your vacation checklist, imposing Kilmainham Gaol has an incredible history worth exploring. The central gallery of the prison is a panopticon—meaning that wherever you are standing you can see the doors of all 96 cells (crucial when those cells were holding the most important revolutionaries in Irish history). It’s chilling stuff but good-humored guides help soften the somber edge. Film buffs will recognize this place from the classic 1969 movie The Italian Job—all the prison scenes in the film were shot at Kilmainham. Get here when it opens at 9:30 a.m., as the lines for admission form quickly. A visit to the infamous jail is particularly poignant this year, on the centenary of the Easter Rising that led to the formation of the Irish Republic. Next up, fast-forward to the present with a visit to a contemporary exhibition at the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) just across the street in the beautifully landscaped grounds of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, where Dubliners flock for summertime concerts. Acts such as Beck, Counting Crows, and Manu Chao have played in the past. Check for gigs while you’re in town on dublinconcerts.ie.
You’ll find Kilmainham Gaol on Inchicore Road. It’s the large, imposing, grey brick building with bars on the windows. If you walk from the jail and past the courthouse, you’ll quickly find yourself on the grounds of the Royal Hospital Kimainham. Continue walking on the main path through the landscaped grounds to find yourself in front of the Irish Museum of Modern Art.
JOIN A VIKING CREW
- Channel your inner Viking with a cruise on the Liffey River
- Let kids see the city from an unexpected historic point of view
- Experience life in medieval Dublin up first hand
More than 11 centuries ago, Dublin was raided by seafaring Vikings who sailed up the Liffey River and settled on its banks. Nowadays you can visit the city’s ancient Norse sights on the Viking Splash tour. We admit that it’s a touristy thing to do, but kids love it and it saves you from making them walk for miles. Great for 2 upwards, this aquatic bus trip involves the whole family donning horned Viking helmets and doing a lot of fierce Viking roaring to scare passersbys. There are always lots of shrieks as the bus leaves dry land to take to the water (make sure to wrap up warm against the changeable Irish weather). Immerse yourself in Dublin life even further at Dublinia, history is brought to life in an exciting way for all to engage, learn and share. They have four exciting exhibitions, you can visit Viking and Medieval Dublin, see Archaeology as a History Hunter and climb the medieval St. Michael’s Tower. Check out the website for special Family First Saturdays events such as Viking-jewelry making, where you get to create your own necklace shaped like the hammer of the legendary god Thor. And when buying tickets at the welcome desk, ask about a discounted combined entry for Dublinia and nearby Christchurch Cathedral.
The Viking Spash tour leaves from the north side of St. Stephen’s Green, where it meets Dawson Street. Check their website for dates and times. The Dublinia experience can be found next to Christchurch Cathedral, on the corner of High Street and Whitehaven Street.
JOIN A TRAD SESSION
- Get into the Dublin spirit with a traditional music session on Monday nights
- Settle near the fireplace and let yourself be transported by the rhythm
Dublin musicians swear the best “session” in the city is at Mother Reilly’s, south of the center in Rathmines, a five-minute cab ride from the Conrad Dublin—or a straightforward 10-minute walk. Visit at 9:30 p.m. on a Monday night, order a pint of Guinness (everyone does), and settle in around the fireplace for a toe-tapping evening with bodhran drums and banjos. There’s a really local vibe here, and the crowd is a mix of old-time regulars, sports fans (they screen big games), and music buffs. There are snugs to cozy up in (essentially a little hidden corner in the pub where people retreat for private chats, usually with a single table) and the lighting is low, so you won’t stick out as a tourist. If you’re looking for something a bit more unexpected, join a ukulele jam at the Stag’s Head pub on Tuesday nights. Everyone is welcome, and even if you don’t take part, and it’s fun to see a crowd of musicians enthusiastically play high-tempo covers of hits as varied as “My Little Runaway” by Del Shannon and Britney Spears’s “…Baby One More Time.” Beware: impassioned musicians have also been known to take to the cobblestoned city-center streets in ukulele flash mobs.
Mother Reilly’s is the red fronted pub with the black sign, on Rathmine’s Road Upper in the south part of the city. You’ll find the Stag’s Head on the corner of Dame Lane and Dame Court. It’s a traditional looking pub with stone columns and flower baskets hanging outside.
SEE AN UNEXPECTED SIDE OF JAMES JOYCE
- See an unexpected side of the renowned Irish novelist and poet with a walking tour
- Visit a pharmacy that hasn’t changed since it opened in 1847
- Grab your own copy of Ulysses or The Dubliners to begin your exploration
No visitor can come to Dublin without delving into the life of its most famous literary son, James Joyce. But instead of reading dog-eared manuscripts through a glass case in a dusty museum, a fun way to do this is on a guided tour with Joe Darcy of Darcy’s Dublin Walks. The highly engaging Mr. Darcy will lead you in the footsteps of Leopold Bloom, the main character in Joyce’s Ulysses, past well-known sights such as the National Library and Trinity College as well as lesser-known ones—Finn’s Hotel on Nassau Street is where Joyce met his love interest, Nora Barnacle. The tour ends in a Joycean spot that not many people know about, Sweny’s Pharmacy, where Bloom bought a bar of “sweet lemony wax soap.” This place is like a time capsule from the 19th century—more curio store than chemist shop—and little inside has changed since it was built in 1847. Joyce enthusiasts now hold readings in the store everyday of the week. Darcy can arrange private group readings of chapters from The Dubliners, followed by a discussion about the novel over mugs of hot tea and chocolate biscuits (aka cookies).
Darcy’s Dublin Walks depart from locations all over Dublin. Get in touch to find the ideal walk for you. Sweny’s Pharmacy is the old fashioned shop on the corner of Lincoln Place and Westland Row.
GO UNDERGROUND AND THEN LEFT FIELD
- Take in the dramatic architecture — and unexpected residents — of Dublin’s oldest building, dating back to 1030
- Climb to the belfry and learn to ring the historic bells from a campanologist (or expert bell ringer)
- Tap into Dublin’s cutting-edge art scene
Most visitors to Dublin take in the beautiful Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin’s oldest building, with its mosaic floor tiles, flying-buttress architecture, and soaring ceilings (if you’re lucky, the cathedral choir might be practicing when you’re there). But in-the-know visitors don’t leave without a visit to the cathedral’s crypt—the largest in the British Isles. That’s where you’ll find Tom and Jerry, the local nickname for a mummified cat and rat that were said to have got stuck in the organ pipes when chasing each other. (They even get name-checked by James Joyce in Finnegan’s Wake.) There are also a number of curious relics dating from the Christian Crusades, including a piece of wood from the crib of Jesus. Then climb the 84 stairs on the Belfry Tour and ask to ring the impressive bells, which weigh between a quarter and two-and-a-quarter tons, yourself. Now that you’ve seen Dublin’s oldest building, why not get a taste for the city’s more contemporary side? In the heart of buzzy Temple Bar, a five-minute walk from Christchurch, is the Project Arts Centre, where you can tap into the most cutting-edge art and performances in Dublin, including modern dance, comedy, high-energy interpretations of circus acts, and provocative video installations. Project also runs free lunchtime tours around Temple Bar’s top galleries; make sure to get the latest scoop on the coolest street art too.
Christchurch Cathedral is on Christchurch Place, close to where Nicholas Street and High Street meet. The Project Arts Centre is the large blue building on the corner of Essex Street East and Sycamore Street, near the banks of the River Liffey.
PICK UP AN UNUSUAL SOUVENIR
- Visit the Liberties neighborhood of Dublin to see an authentic side of the city
- Pick up vintage barware or a midcentury lamp as a unique souvenir of your trip
- Taste whiskey at the only new distillery to have opened in Dublin in 125 years
The Liberties neighborhood was once wealthy thanks to a silk-weaving industry founded by aristocrats fleeing the French Revolution. Now it’s known as a place to find “the real Dublin,” with street stalls selling clothes and bric-a-brac, local discount stores, and Dubliners going about their everyday business. Though some tourists pass through on their way to the Guinness Storehouse, most don’t linger. Too bad—because they are missing the best antiques in the city on Francis Street. For too-gorgeous-to-believe glassware and barware, check out Niall Mullen Antiques—you can tell the owner is big on Art Deco from the curved, graphic lettering on the sign outside. O’Sullivan Antiques is worth a drop-in to ogle the beautiful Regency furniture, and Martin Fennelly Antiques stocks delicately painted porcelain and pieces in Irish bog oak. In the minimal Cross Gallery you will find Midcentury Modern designs, including Italian brass chandeliers—the barista in the gallery’s café also makes a mean cappuccino (ask for a smiley face in the foam and Instagram it!).
Niall Mullen Antiques is on the corner of Francis Street and Carman’s Hall. You’ll find O’Sullivan’s Antiques just across the road, you can’t miss the decorative feature depicting men hauling a piano through a window on the front of the store. Martin Fennelly Antiques is further down Francis Street, where it meets Mark’s Alley West. Cross Gallery is just next door.