Dublin is a city that is famous the world over for its distinct history, literature, heritage, tradition and vibrant contemporary cultural life. It is a culture vulture’s paradise, bursting with a cool café culture, inspiring libraries, fascinating museums, beautiful galleries, historic buildings, thriving theatres and cultural centres.
If you are a history buff, a visit to the City Hall to learn about the history of Dublin may be your cup of tea. If you like museums, there are plenty to visit such as An Post (the Irish Postal System) Museum, Tara’s Palace Museum of Childhood, the Leprechaun Museum, the Dublin Writers Museum, the GAA Museum, the Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, the National Children’s’ Museum (Imaginosity), the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Irish Jewish Museum, the National Maritime Museum, the James Joyce Museum, the National Print Museum, the National Transport Museum, the National Museums of Ireland and the Georgian House Museum, to name but a few.
If you like castles, then Dublin has plenty for you. Dublin Castle, Rathfarnham Castle, Ardgillan Castle, Malahide Castle, and Dalkey Castle all have fascinating stories to tell and are fantastic places to visit.
Dublin has an amazing variety of public and private galleries ranging from the iconic National Gallery of Ireland to the fascinating Dublin City Gallery, from The Hugh Lane to the inspiring LAB, as well as many fine smaller private collections. The range of art and artifacts is enormous and will keep visitors enthralled for hours.
Dublin is renowned for its literary tradition, dating back over a thousand years to when monks would transcribe the bible into beautiful manuscripts. The best surviving example of which is the Book of Kells, dating from 800 AD and it is on display at Trinity College. Dublin was also the birthplace of James Joyce and Nobel Prize for Literature winners William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw and Samuel Beckett. In 2010, it was named a UNESCO City of Literature – one of only three in the world, joining the UNESCO Creative Cities Network. Literary initiatives such as the Bloomsday Festival, storytelling groups, the Mountain to Sea Book Festival, the Dalkey Book Festival, the Irish Literary Festival, Dublin Book Festival, the Dublin Writers Museum, the Irish Writers Centre, the James Joyce Centre, Dublin: One City, One Book and the Dublin Writers Festival encourage everyone to get interested in literature and books. Book worms can also enjoy the National Library, which is based in the city centre and the numerous public libraries around Dublin, which host a huge variety of cool and mainly free public events all throughout the year, including talks, art workshops, language conversation classes, readings, training, kids’ workshops and festivals. The oldest public library in Ireland is in Dublin – Marsh’s Library.
If you are visiting Dublin with kids, there is so much to keep your little ones culturally amused from the cultural oasis that is the Ark to learning about Vikings in Dublinia, from designing robots at the Science Gallery’s Makeshop to making origami in the National Print Museum.
For some festival fever, Dublin has a festival for everything – St Patrick, literature, Shakespeare, theatre, history, fashion, horticulture, cinema, flamenco, film, literature, chocolate, Bram Stoker, Vikings, Chinese New Year, music (including jazz, trad, soul, Americana roots), multicultural and ethnic festivals such as the Russian Festival of Culture, the Cuban Festival, the Chinese New Year, and festivals aimed at kids such as the Children’s Book Festival and Samhain (Halloween Festival).
If music is your thing, then the National Concert Hall has an all-inclusive and diverse programme that caters to children as well as the classically informed. Free lunchtime concerts are a wonderful way to pass some time. On the traditional front several pubs hold free sessions where you’ll be treated to the fiddle, bodhrán and tin whistle acoustic sessions.
Theatre buffs will enjoy the array of theatres in Dublin from the Abbey Theatre, which was set up in 1904 and has fostered talents such as William Butler Yeats and Sean O’Casey, to the Gate Theatre, set up in 1928, where Orson Welles and Michael Gambon began their acting careers. The Peacock, neighbouring The Abbey Theatre, is its contemporary sidekick. The recently restored Smock Alley Theatre, which first opened it in 1662, recently re-launched with Oliver Goldsmith’s She Stoops to Conquer. It was first performed there 239 years before. If a soup, sandwich and performance deal tickles your palate, Bewleys Café Theatre serves up a unique theatrical experience over lunch. At Christmas time, there is always a great choice of pantomimes and Christmas events.
So culture vultures, go see, visit, laugh, participate, spread the word and enjoy!