Reasonably compact and not too traffic-ridden (although some might disagree) Dublin is a city that truly rewards the walker.
From the Westbury Hotel, you’ll be able to see most of central Dublin within 15 minutes. Indeed, James Joyce’s great modern classic Ulysses takes the form of a one-day perambulation throughout the Irish capital, so to become a "flaneur" in Dublin is to take part in a particular pedigree. You will flit from grand Georgian squares to cobbled alleys, making discoveries all the while, including plentiful examples of Dublin’s public - subject of many a rueful, rhyming jest in this self-deprecating city.
Slip out of the Westbury Hotel’s Clarendon entrance and you will emerge in the "Creative Quarter".....This area is now a fantastic hub of Irish design and innovation.
Many start on Grafton Street, the pedestrianised shopping street near the hotel, and a real meeting place. Recently repaved, its handsome streetscape has been enhanced and it is here that you might well encounter one of Dublin’s multifarious buskers. They are often of a very high quality as the street is becoming known for being a place where talent is launched, as well as hosting acts from overseas. Come here at Christmas and you might even hear Bono, who does a famous annual charity busk.
This is the older, better-known Dublin – but there’s a newer city to discover too. Slip out of the Westbury Hotel’s Clarendon entrance and you will emerge in the "Creative Quarter", a central district that includes such historic thoroughfares as South William Street, George’s Street, Lower Stephen Street and Exchequer Street. This area is now a fantastic hub of Irish design and innovation: from boutiques and artists’ studios, cafés to restaurants. See the fashion shops then, for a change of pace, browse in George’s St Arcade: Ireland’s oldest shopping centre and full of quirky stalls.
At Grafton Street’s northern end is St Stephen’s Green, one of the loveliest 19th century urban parks in northern Europe, with ducks, flowers and a garden devoted to William Butler Yeats. 2016 will be a fascinating time to visit Dublin, as it’s the centenary of the Easter Rising, the event that marked the end of British rule that sparked the Irish War of Independence. Amid the commemorations, you’ll be sure to hear multiple interpretations of Yeats’ "Easter, 1916" with its portentous lines: “A terrible beauty is born.
This area is also Dublin’s key museum quarter, where you step from wide streets into noble storehouses such as the National Museum of Archaeology and History and the National Gallery of Ireland. They’ll swallow a few hours of anyone’s time, by which you’ll be ready for coffee, so head down to Temple Bar. By night this revived industrial area is crowded with revellers and by day is a handsome collection of cobbled streets, pubs, vintage shops and great coffee and cake pit-stops such as Queen of Tarts in Dame Street. The Temple Bar Food Market is worth a look for all kinds of produce including Irish-made red wine, and nearby you can caffeinate at Kaph on Drury Street, a coffee connoisseur’s delight. Try one of their madeleine cakes with a flat white – a real restorative.
The serious flaneur should then head over one of the River Liffey’s array of fine bridges to the rivalrous North Side, once poorer, now holding its own with much regeneration and landmark projects, including the beginning of the grand boulevard O'Connell Street with its millennial Spire – a huge, 120m spike piercing the skyline and dividing Dublin opinion. Rather than strolling straight up this street, walk west to the rejuvenated Smithfield area – then end at the Hugh Lane Gallery at Parnell Square, which has a marvelous recreation of Francis Bacon’s paint-spattered studio as a permanent exhibit. A “terrible beauty” indeed, and perhaps time to reward yourself with a sundowner after a long, lustrous day’s walk in Dublin.
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