Inside Dublin: From Boxty to the Book of Kells

In Destinations, Europe by LA Travel Magazine

The city of Dublin provides a rich culture and extensive history on every street corner of the small island in Ireland. With an abundance of history dating back to the 8th century, Dublin incorporates its classical past with the contemporary culture visitors to the city see today. From the world famous Guinness factory, to historic castles to authentic Irish cuisine there is endless opportunity for exploration. If your travels to Dublin are limited, read further for recommendations on the best attractions the city has to offer:

Guinness Storehouse

The Guinness Factory is the number one tourist attraction in Ireland for a reason. Combining history and true passion of beer making the Guinness factory is a staple in the Irish community. Located in the heart of the Guinness Brewery at St James’s Gate visitors can spend hours learning about the historical craft of beer making. Take the tour through the seven-story factory and experience a dramatic legend that begins over 250 years ago and ends in Gravity Bar high above the city. Here visitors receive a complimentary pint of the famous beer while relaxing and enjoying spectacular panoramic views over Dublin.

The perfect pour

Part of the Guinness Factory tour includes how to properly pour a pint of Guinness, a process that is taken very seriously by the staff. There are six steps to the perfect pour and include: 1) the glass (dry, clean, 20 oz tulip pint glass designed for the aerodynamics of the perfect pour), 2) the angle (The glass should be held at a 45-degree angle under the tap and the tap faucet should not touch the tulip glass or beer), 3) the pour (let it flow nice and smooth ¾ of the way right up to the logo. 4) the head (let it settle, the nitrogen bubbles need to settle down the interior sides and back up in the middle. 5) the top- off (now that you have allowed settling go ahead and top it off bringing the head right to the top of the glass. 6) the first sip (you drink with your eyes first, this is part of the art of the perfect pour!)

After pouring a glass of the famous beer be prepared for a picture of you and your pouring group that you will receive via email compliments of the Guinness Factory.

Kilmainham Gaol (Jail)

If for no other reason, Kilmainham Gaol would be highly recognized for being the largest unoccupied jail in Western Europe.  Visitors get a dramatic and realistic insight into what is was like to have been confined inside these forbidding walls of punishment and correction between 1796 through 1924 when it closed. It offers a panoramic insight into some of the most profound, disturbing and inspirational themes of modern Irish history. A lot can be learned about a culture when you go to an establishment like this to see how people reacted to certain times of history. Many famous leaders of the rebellions of 1798, 1803, 1848, 1867, and 1916 were detained here. Leaders of the 1916 Rising, Robert Emmet and Charles Stewart Parnell as well as DeValera, the first Taoiseach (Prime Minister) of Ireland are associated with the Gaol. The visit includes a guided tour and exhibition.

Temple Bar

The neighborhood named Temple Bar may be crawling with tourists but with beautifully preserved streets of cobblestone and countless pubs with live music this is an area not to be missed. Located in the neighborhood is the world famous Temple Bar, a small and normally crowded establishment. You will be genuinely welcomed upon entry and may find yourself staying for hours taking in live Irish music while enjoying some local Irish cuisine. Out of town visitors will find a valuable amount of information about Dublin’s history and sights here from locals who frequent the area. Winner of the Irish Music Pub of the year for 2002-2012 you will find traditional Irish music sessions daily. There is no cover charge making for an enjoyable experience while consuming a pint or two of local brews.

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College is recognized globally as Ireland’s premier university and as one of the world’s leading research-intensive universities. Founded in 1592 on the general pattern of the ancient colleges at Oxford and Cambridge, it is the oldest university in Ireland and one of the older universities of Western Europe. Its Library is the largest research library in Ireland featuring 200 years of legal deposit for publications in Ireland and the UK. The library contains 5 million volumes, a considerable amount of electronic resources, and an extensive collection of manuscripts, the most famous being the Book of Kells. Today Trinity has a vibrant international community of almost 17,000 students, 92,000 alumni and 2,860 members of staff. The student population represents 122 nationalities: not only is it diverse in nationality, it also represents a wide array of social backgrounds and cultures. The centrally located university also takes pride in attracting academic staff from all over the world.

The Book of Kells

Located inside Trinity College The Book of Kells was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world. Its 680 pages of vellum contain the Latin texts of the Four Gospels. Written by Irish monks, the book probably begun at a monastery in Iona, an island off Scotland and finished at Kells, Co. Meath. It was later buried in the ground for fear of the Vikings and after being eventually rediscovered it was deposited for safe keeping in Trinity around 1653. It has been on display in the Old Library at Trinity College Dublin from the mid 19th century, and attracts over 500,000 visitors a year. Since 1953 it has been bound in four volumes. Two volumes are on public view, one opened to display a major decorated page, and one to show two pages of script. The volumes are changed at regular intervals.

Shopping

Shopping in Dublin is an enjoyable experience since the city is so compact. Shoppers can visit dozens of stores in one day all on foot as most of the best shopping can be found in two main areas.

The main city centre shopping areas are Grafton Street and Henry Street. Both are located roughly the same distance from O’Connell Bridge, with Grafton St. to the South, and Henry St. to the North. They are about 10 to 15 minutes on foot from one another making a day of shopping an easy experience.

Long ago Grafton St and the surrounding area was considered privilege to the wealthy with designer boutiques and exclusive shops, while Henry St. was a more affordable location. The difference between the two has become much less evident in current times as both areas are filled with large UK chain stores, franchise coffee shops and top named brand restaurants making Irish shopping very comparable to the UK and USA.  Another recommendation is to visit the little boutiques in the streets around Grafton St., as well as some of the shopping centers such as the St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Center, the Westbury Mall and the Powerscourt Townhouse CentreShop.

Dining

Like any cosmopolitan capital city, Dublin boasts a variety of top dining experiences ranging from both traditional and modern Irish cuisine as well as the finest ethnic dining that Ireland has to offer. There seems to be a restaurant on every corner serving good ol’ traditional Irish fare such as bangers n mash, Irish stew, soda bread, smoked salmon, and maybe even some shepherd’s pie if you’re lucky! The Boxty House is a premier dining experience and one of the only places you will find, of course..Boxty. What is Boxty? Before the Boxty House opened in 1989 most Irish people didn’t evne know what it was either. The most popular version of Boxty consists of finely grated raw and mashed potato with flour, baking soda, buttermilk and sometimes egg. The mixture is then fried on a griddle for a few minutes on each side leaving a nice golden brown potato pancake almost resembling a crepe. Another alternative is to boil into a dumpling that comes very close to a gnocchi texture but if done right is close to an Irish delicacy! The texture of Boxty is as smooth as you can imagine and goes so well with many different combinations. Here are some of the favorites from the Boxy House.

Seafood and Boxty Potato Dumplings-Fresh Salmon, Wild Smoked Coley & Dublin Bay Prawns with Sautéed Boxty Potato Dumplings in a Red Pepper & Black Olive Sauce.

Famous Gaelic Boxty– Tender Medallions of Irish Fillet Beef in Whiskey & Mushroom Cream Sauce wrapped in a traditional Leitrim Boxty pancake.

Mushroom, Blue Cheese & Boxty Dumplings-Sautéed Portobello Mushrooms and Boxty Potato Dumplings in a rich Cashel Blue Cheese Sauce

The man behind the magic:

One thing that makes Ireland such a desired vacation destination is the friendly people that call it their home.  Pádraic Óg Gallagher is the man that started the Boxty House over 25 years ago. By sticking to his love for cooking and family values the restaurant continues to thrive today. If you ever get the chance to meet this passionate restaurateur you will instantly understand why he’s as successful as he is. Being a recognized expert on the potato, Gallagher takes his knowledge and passion around the world and is always ready to make new waves in culinary creations. Possible thoughts of one day bringing Boxty to the rest of the world? We shall see. Bottom line- the hot spot for true traditional Irish cuisine is to be found at the Boxty House in the world famous Temple Bar area.

Note: Boxty isn’t the only taste sensation on the menu; dishes such as the Gallagher’s Irish Stew, Pan Fried Organic Salmon Steak or the Boxty House Burger are among fan favorites. Do not forget dessert, as the Bread and Butter Pudding is a mouth-watering treat! Over the past 25 years well over 3 million people have been served and always come back for more.

Where to Stay

Only 10 minutes from downtown Dublin sits the Four Seasons. Ideally located for the weary traveler looking for the best combination of a relaxing getaway and a fun filled action packed Irish holiday.  Surrounded by ivy-covered homes in the area of Ballsbridge is a classic, serene destination where travelers can enjoy spa treatments and swinging Irish Pubs. Dublin’s Four Season’s staff ensures each and every guest feels right at home offering every amenity possible, exquisite dining options and friendly concierges that will help you plan every step of your vacation while in Dublin.

Dining

The Reading Room offers a savory combination of traditional and modern Irish cuisine. Chefs from the Four Seasons utilize as many sustainable foods as possible supporting all the local Irish makers of cheese, breads and meats. Fresh seafood straight from Dublin bay always makes for a truly enjoyable Irish cuisine experience. Sit down for a casual yet sensational lunch gazing out into the landscaped courtyard or gather with family and friends to dine in a more elegant setting during dinner hours while sharing laughs and stories of travel.

LATM Favorites:
Guest favorites include Dublin Bay Seafood Chowder, Watermelon Carpaccio, Summer Risotto as well as Dublin Bay Halibut with Calamari from Spain

For a slightly more elegant dining experience in a calm environment, Seasons features contemporary Irish cuisine, created by the chefs with the freshest ingredients possible. Breakfast and Sunday Brunch can also be enjoyed at the restaurant. Select from either the a la carte menu or a continental breakfast with a wide array of cured meats, artisan breads and cheeses as well as fruits, juices and pastries. If you’re from out of town it’s a must to try the Full Irish breakfast which consists of Soda bread, tomato, black pudding, bacon, eggs, beans, and sausages with tea.