48 hours in Dublin, Ireland

My husband and I spent a week in Ireland last December. We traveled by car from Dublin to the cliffs of Moher, Galway Bay, up the coast along beautiful country roads, and then back across the country all the way to Belfast.

I’m excited to share bits of this wondrous trip. It has allowed me to plunge into my notes, photos and souvenirs and relive this experience in a country where I, like so many of us in Canada, the province of Quebec, and north eastern USA, have roots.

Dublin Ireland on a map

A quick side note on what an awesome it is thing to hear your favourite song playing on the radio. The Pogues’ “Fairytale of New-York” is an excellent (and our favourite) holiday yet non-holiday song, and even though it’s over 25 years old, it’s still going strong on the holiday charts in Ireland. If you don’t know the Pogues, I recommend reading this terrific article by Dorian Lynskey beforehand for some context (context is needed in a Holiday song involving a junkie). All this to say that this tune – and singing along to it at the top of our lungs! – provided a more than ideal backdrop to our many bits of road tripping across Ireland.

To start off with, here’s a 2-day snapshot of Dublin – a town that’ll make you wish you’d gone on exchange there, or moved there for an ill-advised boyfriend or girlfriend; hell, you’ll probably start thinking of ways whereby you could decide to make a life there.

Day 1:

Pints and lunch at Stag’s Head pub –

Over all, I was blown away by Ireland’s unexpectedly delicious food, and Dublin’s pub fare made a lasting impression. I had memorable Guinness beef pot-pie at the Stag’s Head’s pub, and enjoyed every bit of the place while I sat at the bar amongst Dubliners and tourists alike. Is it a bit of an obvious destination, thanks to a Lonely Planet recommendation? Perhaps, but it’s still gorgeous, and it’ll definitely give you that “i’m in Ireland” feeling you’re craving when you get off the plane.

Stag Head's Pub, Dublin Ireland

Stroll the center’ streets 

Dublin has a ton of shopping to offer, and walking through the center’s tight streets to admire the various storefronts, bakeries, and chocolate shops is a real pleasure. Make sure to have a peek inside the George’s Street Arcade as well as in the Powerscourt Centre – great virtual tour here. The latter is a modified townhouse; the main entrance was converted into a flower shop and gives way to an inner courtyard with great little stores. While you’re there, enjoy a break across the street at J. Grogan’s The Castle Lounge pub for a true local’s pint. Then, walk down to the Old Stand pub and indulge in a copious plate of bangers and mash for lunch.

Dublin Ireland, centre

Dublin Ireland, centre stroll

Dublin Ireland, centre stroll

J.Grogan's Castle Lounge, Dublin

Bangers & Mash, Dublin Ireland

Trinity College library and the book of Kells –

Visit of one of the world’s most breathtaking libraries and the book of Kells, one of Ireland’s national treasures, preciously kept at Trinity College. Feel like you’re back in undergrad while you stroll around the gorgeous school grounds.

Trinity College grounds, Dublin

Cameras are forbidden in the library, so credit for this beautiful picture goes to Donnanobles via tumblr.

Donnanobles's Tumblr library shot

Make a Whiskey pit-stop –

For a truly impressive selection of Irish Whiskeys, visit the Celtic Whiskey shop. They occasionally organize tastings, and the friendly staff is eager to help out and share its knowledge. We were lucky enough to taste these amazing Celtic Cask Irish whiskeys – some of the few independent Irish whiskeys that remain.  If you’re looking to take some of Ireland back home with you, this is the place to do it!

Celtic Cask, Celtic Whiskey shop Dublin

Hit it out of the park dinner –

The cozy yet urban feel – think dim lighting, candles, high tables and banquette seats – at The Butcher Grill brings a good change of pace from the pubs you’ve been hitting all day. Enjoy the perfectly balanced “can I have some more” fish taco, and make sure that you try their mouth watering, finger licking baby back ribs. They come on a cutting board, with a portion that allows for your dinner date to have a few pieces, and is more than likely to make your neighbouring table jealous. We enjoyed an ideally paired Tuscan wine with our meal, and the service was both friendly and knowledgeable. I recommend reserving in advance if you’re set on a specific time. The place has about 40 seats and was packed when we went in for late dinner.

This photo was taken off the Butcher Grill’s Facebook Page – I wish I hadn’t forgotten my camera that night.

The Butcher Grill, Dublin Ireland

Day 2:

A good old week-end brunch or cozy morning coffee 

Breakfast at Bewley’s. This café is quite large and has a front area serving pastries and coffee to go. Service is quick, coffee refills are free, and breakfast, though standard fare, is a reasonably priced sure thing.

Bewley's Dublin

The Guinnesss Factory, a must

Walk across town or take the bus to the Guinness factory for the full tour experience.

Though it is admittedly a good distance walk from the Trinity College area, getting to experience the industrial vibe of the area, not to mention the enormity of the Guinness grounds, brought added value to my experience. The compound, surrounded by high brick walls, is enormous and still active with keg trucks and delivery vans pressing about.

Guinness compound, Dublin Ireland

When you finally make it to the museum, you’ll get to tour at your own pace through the Guinness beer-making process. The museum is designed to look as though you are inside a giant pint of Guinness, with the top floor -the “creamy” top  of the pint-as a bar.

Here are a few tips regarding the visit:

When you’ve reached the end of the beer-making part of the tour, you’ll come across a little bar area where you’ll be served a half-pint of beer. You’ll notice a little glass filled with roasted barley – Guinness’ own specific roast! Make sure you take a whiff of those, and ask the tender if you can try a few. Biting into those will release the aromas that contribute to the beer’s distinct flavour.

Roasted Barley, Guinness

Once you pass through the advertising bit of the tour, you’ll come across the Guinness pouring academy. Though you can use your entrance vouchers here, I suggest paying for “the perfect pour of Guinness” class and instead using your vouchers for the free pint at the summit bar.

Guinness academy step 1Guinness academy step 2Guinness academy step 3

Guinness academy step 4Guinness academy step 5Guinness academy step 6

The perfect pour, at Guinness academy

Ready for a second amazing dinner evening? –

Take a cab from the Guinness factory grounds directly to the Mulligan Grocer (make sure you’ve reserved ahead of time).

Mulligan Grocer, Dublin

This gastro-pub*** is part of my favourite Dublin memories. It specializes in local beers and brews a few of its own. You can enjoy a few pints in the traditional setting at the front of the pub, where the old wood stalls and low tables are key, and later move onto your dinner reservation at the back of the pub, where impressive group tables seat happy dinner goers in big groups (don’t fret, there are quite a few tables for 2).

Mulligan grocer at the bar, Dublin

Mulligan Grocer's home brewed beer

The menu and drink menus are pages inside old books, and propose beer and whiskey pairing options for every dish, adding to the experience. The food was delicious – from the interpretation of Kiev Chicken served with creamy buttered corn & “Bitter and Twisted” beer, to the Scotch Egg served with home made ketchup photographed below.

Mulligan Grocer's menu, Dublin

Mulligan Grocer's Scotch Egg

Irish whiskey tasting

The menu suggested a Redbreast Irish whiskey, which was a real pleasure with its warm toffee and caramel notes. If you’re passionate about whiskey, or trying to get into it, you may also like this article on Scotch Whiskey & a 101 on tasting.

***Bourdain hates the expression as it implies “normal” pubs can’t serve good food, but it remains a succinct way of describing a place that goes for a pub atmosphere without sacrificing high-quality food – see how long that took to describe?

Up next, a few anecdotes and recommendations from our Irish road-trip adventures!

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Categories: Travel

Author:aalavoie

Aspiring food writer, serious traveler, media enthusiast and communications specialist from Montréal, Canada. www.facebook.com/LavoiealaBouche Follow me on twitter @aalavoie

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3 Comments on “48 hours in Dublin, Ireland”

  1. petra08
    February 4, 2013 at 4:35 am #

    It looks like you had a great time! I love the Celtic Whiskey shop!

  2. February 2, 2013 at 9:47 pm #

    Thank you! 🙂

  3. Alison Verhoeven
    February 2, 2013 at 6:30 pm #

    Great article! Looking forward to the next instalment!

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