Dublin from a local – experience the real city

Do Dublin like us locals

The River Liffey


Welcome to Dublin the town where I was born. The town where my Dad and my granddad’s front garden was St. Stephan’s green. Where the stories of my past and heritage all include streets and theater shows in Dublin. Many of which still exist and many you wont find in guide books. Places that we Irish go regularly as part of our daily lives. I want to introduce you to the Dublin that we enjoy. Even though its a city Dublin feels like a big town. When you hear the expression “I’m going into town” this means your going to Dublin city center.

As far back as the 1800’s my family were all actors, dancers, writers and painters so the stories told around the fire growing up were fabulous. The realty is there were many days of hunger and poverty and travelling to different towns all over Ireland and the UK on horses and carriages, boats and trains. Months of dancing in Spain entertaining the troops in the war and a few stories of romance thrown in there also. My grandparents home was 26 St. Stephens Green minutes walking distance from places James Joyce and his counterparts hung out, wrote, drank, and created history.  The streets where our forefathers fought at the GPO (General Post Office) for Irish Independence.

Do Dublin like us locals

National Library, Kildare St. Dublin 2

Do Dublin like us locals

Dail Eireann, Kildare Street Dublin 2

To the amazement of some tourists we don’t actually ride around Dublin in horse Drawn carriages and although they do line St. Stephens green the same way as they do Central Park. However they cannot enter the green which happens to be a Victorian park.  They can only take you through the traffic ridden small streets of Dublin.  Neither do we have Leprechaun’s however you will find a Leprechaun museum in Dublin.   We don’t go to rubbish bars and pay extortionate prices for under par beer, well actually some of us do, normally those on a stag or hen’s night or those trying to get lucky:)  Many of us though pride ourselves in wishing to hell that you tourists would in fact find the real Ireland and alas many of you wont and many in fact just don’t want to.  But for those who do, there are people like me who would just like to share the Dublin we know and love in the hope that you will in fact spread the word of the authentic places that we know and love.

Me and James Joyce

Me and James Joyce

If I had a pound for every time I was asked by a tourist for tips on what to do for a weekend in Dublin Id be rich.  Thus I racked my brain and this is just a list of things I have done many times, a few restaurants I love, a great breakfast place, lunchtime theatre………. you get the picture.  So as I said, welcome to Dublin, the city where I drew my first breath.

I’m Irish, therefore I own an umbrella, a hat and a raincoat and boots. My advice is prepare for rain when packing.

Do Dublin like us locals

The Palace Bar

Describing a Dublin native

While we don’t necessarily all drink Guinness, many of us do but to be honest the carbs and the beer belly that go with this just forced me to give it a miss as I get older.  Neither do I play the fiddle or in fact like traditional Irish music. I don’t talk like a leprechaun live on potatoes and cabbage The dish is called “bacon and cabbage” not “corned beef and cabbage”. Most of us don’t have red hair and freckles. Incidentally the majority of red haired people are Scottish.

Breakfast in Dublin

A perfect day in Dublin for me starts with breakfast in Farmer Brown’s in Rathmines, its about a 15 minute straight walk to Grafton street. Really fresh locally sourced Irish ingredients and if oatmeal is your thing, its the best I’ve ever had. I have a page on the best breakfasts in Dublin.

Do Dublin like us locals

excellent coffee

When you are suitably nourished walk to Kildare street. Here you will see the Dail (Irish Parliament house) the the National Library of Ireland and if you keep walking a short distance you can go to my absolute favourite place in Dublin, Sweny’s Pharmacy.

Do Dublin like us locals

have you read any James Joyce?

Sweny’s chemist in Dublin

is the place where James Joyce refers to in his book Ulysses.   Joyce, one of our famous writers hung out here and mentioned it in his famous book. It has been a well kept secret for years but some guides are now listing it so it might not stay that way. There are live readings of his works on different days and you can sit and read and participate. If you have been trying to figure Ulysses out they will help you here. It really is a magical place where time has stood still. You can even buy the special lemon soap hand made the old way and mentioned in the book.  If you have a passion for Joyce you will appreciate this place. Ulysses readings are on Saturday mornings and they go have coffee afterwards, if you are nice they might invite you.  There are readings of other Joyce books on other days also.

Do Dublin like us locals

Ulysses reading in Sweny’s Pharmacy

Do Dublin like us locals

National Library, Kildare St. Dublin 2

The national Library of Ireland is located directly next to the Dail.  They have the original James Joyce Ulysses and also his notes from other books.  You can sit in the reading room where he wrote some of it and also refers to in the book.  There are many other things to see here also.  Its a lovely place in the middle of the madness on Kildare Street.

The entire area is awash with cafe’s and bar’s so if need refreshments along the way there are many places to go.

Do Dublin like us locals








As Stephens Green was my grandparents garden and their bedroom overlooked it, plus I attended the college on the green and walked it daily so I love it.  In summer you can just sit and people watch or wander around and take in its beauty.  St Stephen’s Green. The current landscape of the park was designed by William Sheppard, which officially opened to the public on Tuesday, July 27, 1880. The park is adjacent Grafton Street and in my opinion a God awful shopping center called the Stephen’s Green shopping center which tore town original buildings and replaced it with this horrible place. Be prepared to spend a fortune parking here or in the surrounding area. The surrounding streets are the offices of a number of public bodies and the city terminus of one of Dublin’s Luas tram lines.

Do Dublin like us locals

For lunch my absolute favourite thing to do is lunchtime theater in Bewley’s Cafe on Grafton street. The cafe itself is can be very touristy just for its location, but I love it and go when there isn’t a queue. It is the oldest cafe in Dublin has recently reopened after a long renovation. The front is a small area cafe but go to the back and “just wow’ the decor and the history here.  The smells of coffee and cakes and their restaurant in general will take you to a place in your mind and you will remember it for a long time.  My tip if your here for breakfast – Bewley’s Porridge or Oatmeal whatever you like to call it fantastic.  For Irish people this place nostalgic and even though it isn’t my favourite cafe as it can be touristy I do appreciate its charm and history.  That said I regularly frequent the lunchtime theatre upstairs.  It hosts excellent independent shows by great stage actors.   Watching a performance you are likely to bump into other actors, directors, writers and people who work locally and are in the know.  These often sell out so its good idea to pre-book as its a very small intimate venue.  You can have a bowl of soup for an additional 4 Euro on top of the price of the show which is 10 Euro.

Do Dublin like us locals

Trinity College

A quick walk through Trinity College is a must and this is also the home of the book of Kells. It wont disappoint neither will the surroundings.

Do Dublin like us locals

Kells at Trinity

Do Dublin like us locals

The Book of Kells





Do Dublin like us locals As I travel a lot I  passionately hate people who rip tourists off. This happens regularly in Ireland.

Temple Bar Dublin

Temple Bar is old and historical and in some places you will pay outrageous prices. I’m talking 7.50 euro for a beer crazy prices for a cocktail. The prices change through out the day with the most expensive being in the evening. I’m not totally against it as Temple Bar can be different by day. Nice little shops and boutiques and walking distance to a lot of great places. After dark I find Temple Bar, tacky, grotty and dangerous. A worker here told me they call 5pm witching hour as all the crazies come out. Gangs operate out of here to rob people and if the gangs don’t rob you the bars will. Why anyone can defend the place is beyond me. If you do go here I would recommend the Palace Bar. Despite being in Temple Bar its actually on the edge. Its one of Dublin’s best Victorian pubs and it a bit like going back in time. In the 40’s, 50’s & 60’s it was frequented by reporters, journalists and famous Irish writers and was owned by the Irish Times Editor. The Irish Times (newspaper) was just minutes walking distance and the pub was a hub of activity and excitement. The family that run it have been there since 1946. The Guinness is outstanding and as it should be as the correct pour is like religion in Ireland. You can tell a rubbish bar and bartender by the way they pour their Guinness.  The Palace Bar is a great place to hangout on sporting days. Another favourite I’m adding in Temple bar is the IFI, the Irish film institute. Its on Eustace Street and has great independent films you will not see everywhere. It also has a great cafe, restaurant and cocktail menu good prices and is one of Dublin’s best kept secrets. I dont share this on social media as I like it the way it is. Its a regualar haunt for actors, writers, film makers etc.

Have you heard of the Freemasons, the supposedly secret society? Well Freemasons’ Hall is located at 17 Molesworth St.  The Victorian designed fabulous building is intriguing.  There are tours everyday in summer for 2 Euro and other seasons by appointment only.

Next on my list is the Garden of Remembrance, cross O’Connell Bridge walk to the end of O’Connell street pass the GPO on your left famous in Ireland and at the end of the street on your left is the Gardens, beautiful and built to commemorate those who fought for our freedom and independence.  2 mins and across the street from this is the Dublin Writers Museum.

Garden of Remembrance

Garden of Remembrance


You are now on the North side of the City and the best Asian restaurants in Dublin are located here.

My favourite Dublin Pub

Toners Pub

Toners Pub

Toners Pub

Toners Pub

If your heading out for the night then pubs are plentiful in Dublin but my favourite is Toners on Baggot street.  Live music and a great beer garden.  The staff are great as is the beer, its not pretentious  you never know who you will bump into.

Late night Dublin

If your not ready for bed by

now then head to Camden Street to one of the many clubs, or Dawson Street to some fancy ones, or to Copper Faced Jacks on Harcourt St. where you can mingle to your hearts content until the early hours. Unlike cities like Madrid for example Dublin closes rather early and public transport is not 24 hours.  Take a taxi, get home safe.

A good thing to do to get a look around is the open top bus tour which like other cities allows you to hop on and off when you want.  2013-11-09 12.56.26

I have just focused on the city center mainly the St. Stephens Green/Grafton Street Side as this was for friends who were coming for 2 days. There is so much more to see and do and the North Side has as much if not more charm in great little locations. If you have more time you can take the Dart out to Howth, a lovely fishing town now with fantastic restaurants, walks, Howth Summit, the beach, boating and of course shopping. My Granny was born and raised in Drumcondra and today that is a great little area. Dublin is full of little gems and 2 days just wont cover it which is the only reason I stuck to a walk-able area. However if you stay longer and want to see the real Ireland get on a bus and head to Donegal.

My thoughts on Dublin today

For years Dublin has attracted tourists by the drove.  Sometimes to the amazement of us her natives who live with her problems including poverty, corruption, dirt, homelessness, lawlessness, high crime, traffic, pollution and the list is endless. Despite her problems Dublin is truly unique, but for us who experience the difficulties of living in a city where corruption through government has determined things that really should not exist such as hospital bed shortages and lack of housing and unsafe housing and given the fact our government officials allowed thousand of houses to be built in places in Ireland where no one actually lives and are now using tax payers money to destroy those very homes the homeless situation in Dublin is at an all time high and growing daily so that combined with poverty, extortionate pricing, leaves us as one of the most expensive cities in the world.  A recent report has us placing 21st from the bottom of the list of corrupt countries.  Seemingly this is a good thing ????????????? Personally I think my granddad is turning in his grave at what has been allowed to happen to his beloved city.

Dublin is an expensive city.   To help you make it more affordable here are some restaurants where BYOB is acceptable.  Dux and Co.  Keshk on Mespil Road  no corkage fee, Little Jerusalem, Rathmines.  Rotana, Richmond Street S. Vintage Kitchen  Musashi, Capel Street. €6 corkage.  Royal Tandoori.   Browns. Cafe Bliss on Montague St.   D4 Café, Baggot St.  Arisu.  Pho Viet  €5 corkage.  Pho Ta €4 corkage.Il Posto, St Stephen’s Green or at least they were when I wrote this. 

For tours or more information have a look at these links.  http://www.newdublintours.com/daily-tours/new-dublin-free-tour.html

Locations I stay and recommend. Rathimines (southside), Clontarf, Howth, Drumcondra (all northside) I also stay in hotels in the city center on the south side of Dublin. All those are very walkable have lovely cozy bars and restaurants and I think I’ve been to all of them. Dublin is affordable if you avoid the rip off places and experience it like a local.



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About Sandra

Just a girl from Ireland who wants to live everywhere. Not a planner, a winger when it comes to travel. I don't even like people who plan too much. Without spontaneity there is no depth. A jack of all trades. A great friend, loyal and passionate and I expect the same in return. Always ready for the next adventure at a moments notice.
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