Any guided tour of Dublin is certain to incorporate Trinity College, Dublin Castle, St Patrick’s Cathedral and Christchurch Cathedral. All of these are worthy visits and are familiar to all. However, there are some gems that are not so well known, even to large numbers of Dublin residents. Amongst my favourites, all of which are free or have a small entrance fee, are:
The House of Lords: The Bank of Ireland on College Green was built as the Houses of Parliament in the 18th century. The House of Commons has been lost but the House of Lords remains intact. In the magnificent room, you can see two 18th century tapestries and a sparkling Irish crystal chandelier of 1233 pieces dating from 1765.
The Royal Irish Academy: Situated on Dawson St, the RIA houses a wonderful collection of early Irish manuscripts. My favourite named book is Leabhar na hUidre or The Book of the Dun Cow! The Academy is open to visitors from Monday to Friday.
The Chester Beatty Library: This museum has been described by Lonely Planet as not simply the best in Ireland but one of the best in Europe. It houses a huge collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts assembled by Alfred Chester Beatty. Egyptian papyrus texts, beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur'an and the Bible, European medieval and renaissance manuscripts are among the highlights of the collection. It is in a wonderful location beside Dublin Castle and, amazingly, it is free.
Marsh Library: Founded in 1701, Marsh's Library was the first public library in Ireland. The library contains over 25,000 books relating to the 16th, 17th and 18th centuries. The interior of the library, with its beautiful dark oak bookcases and the three elegant wired alcoves or 'cages' where the readers were locked with rare books, remains unchanged since it was built three hundred years ago. It is a magnificent example of a 17th century scholars' library. It is situated beside St Patrick’s Cathedral. There is a small entrance fee.
Sweny’s: Sweny’s is a former Victorian pharmacy made famous for its inclusion in James Joyce’s Ulysses. It is a now a book shop run by volunteers and is a great place to stop, browse, reminisce and have a cup of tea. On Fridays, if I am not guiding, I am a volunteer there and I would love to meet you.
Thank you Joe! Whether you see him in Sweny’s or on your own private tour, consider starting a conversation with this engaging Irishman. You can find his guide profile page HERE.