Ports of call: Dublin
The Irish capital is becoming more popular as a cruise call. Nicola Brady says it’s not hard to work out why.
With a port just a short hop from the city centre and an array of world-class restaurants, bars and museums, Dublin is becoming an increasingly popular cruise destination.
This year there are 151 confirmed cruise calls into Dublin Port, bringing more than 270,000 visitors to the city. Of those, there are nine maiden calls and a mini-season of five full turnaround cruises, new this year, seeing visitors begin and end their cruises in Dublin.
A quick skip along the River Liffey will bring you right into to the middle of the action – from the port you can either stroll along the riverside, through the district some are calling the Water Quarter, or grab a taxi and be in town in about 15 minutes.
One of the greatest things about Dublin is its relatively small size – it’s eminently walkable, with most of the main attractions within a close radius, so it’s easy to make the most of the city in a short space of time.
Kick things off with a nod to the literary heritage of the city, by visiting the Book of Kells in Trinity College. While its ancient illustrations are inspiring, the haunting Long Room of the old library is impressive enough in its own right.
If you want to continue the theme, the Chester Beatty Library, part of Dublin Castle, holds an impressive array of manuscripts and rare books, and has a beautiful rooftop garden.
For a quirky insight into the history of the city, the Little Museum of Dublin offers a light-hearted and fascinating look at the past 100 years in Ireland’s capital. The museum, located in a gorgeous Georgian townhouse on St Stephen’s Green, is home to rotating exhibits as well as permanent displays, with tours led by passionate guides.
Afterwards, grab a cup of coffee (or a sweet treat from The Rolling Donut nearby) and take a stroll around St Stephen’s Green itself. A peaceful park in the heart of the city, this is where locals convene to shoot the breeze and feed the famous ducks (though some of the flock tend to be seagulls, chancing their luck). During the 1916 Easter Rising, a ceasefire was held daily in order for the park keeper to feed the ducks, who, he argued, hadn’t agreed to the battle that besieged the city.
The neighbouring Shelbourne Hotel played a vital role in this period of upheaval. One of the rooms within its walls was where the Irish Constitution was drafted in 1922. Nowadays, it’s a popular meeting spot for Dubliners to celebrate special occasions and a great option for an elegant afternoon tea.
Just around the corner, you’ll find The Greenhouse, one of the finest restaurants in the city. It received a Michelin star just a few years after opening, and head chef Mikael Viljanen’s use of Irish ingredients to create elegant and beautiful dishes is exemplary. Expect to see courses like Sika deer, perfectly pink and juicy, adorned with fresh blackberries and a mushroom emulsion.
If you want to take in a spot of shopping, Grafton Street is the main area for high street stores, with Brown Thomas, the luxury department store, leading the way. For a more personalised experience, explore the Creative Quarter to the west of the street – you’ll find exceptional boutiques along Drury and South William Streets and a treasure trove of places within the Powerscourt Townhouse, a striking building home to many independent stores.
No trip to Dublin is complete without a taste of the black stuff and you can get a great introduction to the stout at the Guinness Storehouse. There you will learn all about how Guinness is made, as well as how to pour the perfect pint. There’s also a great exhibition about the classic adverts they’ve produced.
There is, of course, no shortage of pubs in the city where you can enjoy a Guinness. Kehoes is a classic Dublin establishment on South Anne Street, complete with slanting wooden floors and a classic snug, an enclosed space with its own door and private hatch to the bar.
To finish your Dublin experience in style, head to The Marker hotel, which is handily located in the Docklands, on the way back to Dublin Port. Their rooftop bar is one of the finest in the city – you can enjoy an exceptional cocktail while enjoying views all across the city and out to
the Dublin Mountains.