Sister Cities: Dublin, Ireland

President Dwight Eisenhower established the sister city program in 1956 to foster global awareness and peaceful relations. A design team from Dublin, Ireland, one of San Jose’s sister cities, presents their view of their hometown.

There are the usual guides of the city and “hop-on, hop-off” bus tours, but if you want a real insight into how Dublin functions, we would highly recommend the Le Cool Dublin Experience. Le Cool, an online weekly magazine, also created the “Le Cool Dublin Walking Tour” to help Dubliners, as well as foreigners, discover new emerging artists, chefs, and designers. The tours incorporate modern elements of Dublin life, such as pop-ups, collectives, and street art exhibitions, as well as quirky points of interest, such as The Waldorf on Westmoreland Street, Dublin’s oldest barber shop.

Dublin is the birthplace of James Joyce and Nobel Literature Prize winners William Butler Yeats, George Bernard Shaw, and Samuel Beckett. One tour that pays homage to Dublin’s literary tradition is the Dublin Literary Pub Crawl. An engaging walking tour led by a team of professional actors, it follows the footsteps of literary greats such as James Joyce, Samuel Beckett, Oscar Wilde, and Brendan Behan. It’s a wonderful evening filled with prose, drama, and song.

Also a must is a visit to the Natural History Museum, or as Dubliners call it “The Dead Zoo”—for obvious reasons. It features a comprehensive display of Irish wildlife, from the skeleton of the extinct giant Irish deer to the rabbits introduced by the Normans. Other floors are devoted to international fauna. You will see elephants, a rare Tasmanian tiger, and a polar bear shot by Irish explorer Leopold McClintock. Now called a “museum of a museum,” the display is a fascinating glimpse of Victorian ways of preserving and displaying wildlife.

The Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) is worth visiting. A whole day could be spent here, with the museum housed in the magnificent 17th century Royal Hospital building, whose grounds include a formal garden, meadow, and medieval burial grounds. IMMA is Ireland’s leading national institution for the collection and presentation of modern and contemporary art.

Eating

A great place to eat during the day is The Fumbally cafe in Dublin 8. Situated just beyond St. Patrick’s Cathedral, an unpromising modern building gives way to a surprisingly welcoming space—with sheer concrete walls and an exposed industrial interior softened by wooden tables and chairs, tasseled lamps, and bright bowls of fruit and vegetables. The Fumbally’s colorful home cooking makes liberal use of Irish produce, “Mediterranean simplicity,” and Moroccan spices.

Brother Hubbard is another excellent eatery just across the River Liffey on Capel Street. As with The Fumbally, the food steps up to the plate. The popularity of its pulled pork special, with mustardy celeriac remoulade on sourdough, has driven it to become a daily inclusion on the menu. It’s wicked in the way only mollycoddled pork can be. Although they are famed for breakfast treats that range from granolas to hangover-hitters like the warm bacon and cheese sambo, Brother Hubbard offers an intriguing Middle Eastern plate. They also make some tasty juices and fruit iced teas—no surprise considering the Smithfield Fruit Market is less than a hundred yards away.

Drinking

At the top of most people’s Dublin bucket list is having a few pints of Guinness. There are two places that always come to mind when looking for the perfect pint. The first is the well-known Grogans Pub, with its outdoor seating spilling over into most of Castle Market on Thursday, Friday, and Saturday evenings.

Another great place for a quiet pint is J. O’Connell in Portobello. This is a gem of a pub: it’s not loud, no neon lights. Deceptively small from the outside, the bar’s interior is typically Irish.

Just a few doors down from O’Connell’s is a more trendy bar called The Bernard Shaw, or “The Shaw.” A proper 113-year-old Irish boozer, The Bernard Shaw was taken over in 2006 by Dublin-based club promoters and label owners Bodytonic, who are known to throw the best parties in Dublin. It’s become a superb local. DJs appear nightly, covering everything from rock to hip hop, reggae to dubstep, and disco.

Markets & Shopping

There are several markets in Dublin, from fruit and food markets in Smithfield and Temple Bar to the Cow’s Lane Fashion and Design Market held every Saturday from 10am until 5pm, featuring stalls from rising Irish and international designers.

The most popular market is the now infamous Dublin Flea Market held on the last Sunday of every month in The Co-op on Newmarket Square, Dublin 8. With over eighty stalls each month, you can find everything you would expect to find at a flea market. Along with the buying and selling, there are DJs, live bands, or whatever they throw together to keep the folks entertained. Customers soak up the atmosphere, drink a coffee, and fill their bellies with homemade falafel, cakes, pizza, and Greek dishes. The Co-op’s organic food store is also open on market days with the best selection of organic and fair trade goods in Dublin.

In the same location is The Brocante Market, held every third Sunday of the month, which hosts oodles of antiques, stylish furniture, and quirky collectibles. Originally a hidden gem on the alternative scene, it has become mainstream. Packed full of bizarre and beautiful curiosities, it appeals to amateur and expert collectors alike.

Written by Revert Boutique


Places to Visit in Dublin


Revert Boutique

Revert Boutique is a boutique branding agency whose clients include companies from various industries around Dublin and further afield. We enjoy collaboration and long-term relationships with our clients, creating everything from logotypes to identities to websites as well as interior design and signage, paying close attention to the small details along the way. The end result is a young, well-crafted brand agency.


Article originally appeared in Issue 6.4 Retro.
Issue 6.4 Retro
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