Stumbling out of a nightclub with Oasis blasting through my semi-blown eardrums and a bottle of Budweiser in my hand, I walk into a lamppost before sliding ever so gracefully to the floor. Time to call it a night me thinks.
Welcome to Dublin. Ireland has long had a reputation for being a country of drinkers, and despite stereotypes being factually incorrect in majority of cases, the growth, or rather explosion of the Temple Bar region in Dublin 2 as the ‘Ibiza of Ireland’ does little to dispel the myth.
After travelling over on the ferry (£48 return, Stenaline Fishguard) and arriving at Rosslare, I was disheartened to find out it was a further three hour drive north through the east coast of the Republic before reaching the proud cultural centre of the country that is the Capital Dublin. However, it must be said it was one of the most pleasant motorway journeys I have been on, highly recommendable than simple flying into yet another generic airport terminal, passing through the green countryside with intermissions of straddling the sea, the scenery enough to regularly stop and check out such seaside towns as Wicklow and Arklow, two towns that still encapsulate small-town Ireland rather than the multiculturalism that can be found in the larger settlements. But that’s another story for another day.
Despite it being the weekend of a major rugby international and the estimates of 200,000 Welsh fans visiting the area in search of rowdy memories, accommodation was relatively easy to find, albeit booked beforehand to make sure we weren’t caught out. Barnacles is a decent standard hostel right in the middle of the mythical, almost hedonistic Temple Bar area in the city centre, the front door leading literally to the doorsteps of the top bars in the country. What’s more for the late night revellers, the reception is open 24 hours, ideal for those looking to take advantage of the late closing times of the local boozers. From 15 Euros a night, the hostel provided adequate facilities, a mere footnote considering the location alone satisfied the fee.
Staying primarily in the Temple Bar area inundated with bars and pubs, like some sort of alcoholic heaven, there was some difficulty remaining sober long enough to actually see, let alone sightsee for pleasure! However, staying in an area promoted as Dublin’s cultural quarter did lead to some instances of bewilderment, from the many musicians littering the sidewalks to the art galleries and other similar outputs of Irish creativity, including the home of the Irish Film Institute.
Further away from the Bar area but still within a strolling distance, or even on the LUAS trams if your feeling lazy/hung-over (2 Euro for a reasonable journey) is the world famous Guinness factory. Based in St James’ Gate south of the river Liffey (the water splitting the city a la Thames), the brewery is the spiritual home of the most infamous stout beer in the world and for around 15 euros admission you can get a ‘tour’ of Irelands number one visitor attraction. Be warned, the actual factory is actual off-limits as it in continuous use providing the world’s thirsty population with the thick concoction that has become synonymous with the City itself. There are instead the usual museum/shop’s that tourists tend to love, complete with a free pint of that really dark red (who knew?) brew. The most rewarding experience of the factory, possible the city, is the Gravity Bar on the 7th floor, a glass room offering the best panoramic views of the capital possible, a truly exhilarating and relaxing arena to enjoy your free pint.
Back to the Temple Bar, just outside is the famous Halfpenny Bridge, a small picturesque cast-iron pedestrian crossing spanning the Liffey that was once a tolled bridge that only the rich could afford to use. Whilst not much to look at, standing in the middle staring across a proud city, the sense of history strikes you deep and especially around sundown can be a poignant and romantic moment. Visiting with a scrum-full of male friends however, we used to bridge for the reason most young tourists tend to, and that was as a means of entering the wild world of Dublin’s nightlife.
Where to start? The nightlife centre of Dublin as you’ve probably realised is the Temple Bar, a geographic rectangular area straddling the Liffey. The notorious area has dozens upon dozens of different style pubs, bars, clubs and restaurants all teeming with merry groups of people enjoying the best Dublin has to offer. Such well-visited bars as Olivers St John Gogarty and the large multi-floored Fitzsimmons are but two places guaranteed to provide a more than adequate night out. The live bar of Gogarty’s provides a sensational place to enjoy the cream of the area’s musicians, the mixing of smoke, music and beer providing a truly great19th century atmosphere to revel in. Fitzsimmons offers a more modern arena to party, four floors of contrasting tastes as well as the spectacular and unrivalled roof terrace overlooking the area and making you feel as if you are enjoying your drink in a wild exotic location from a movie. It would take a real miserable person to avoid the raucous and rowdy fun that these bars bring out in people. Do be warned however, being a typical tourist hotspot (it can be rare to meet a local Irish clubber), the establishments do tend to take advantage and charge extortionate amounts for drinks, even up to 5 Euros for a pint in some areas. As all regular city breakers will be aware though, this is an epidemic home to every major tourist area throughout the continent and many people will pick up tips from other tourists where the cheapest places to go will be.
All in all, if you are prepared to go with a pocket full of change and wishing to return with only happy memories and coppers, Dublin is without a doubt a brilliant city break, guaranteed to leave every visitor with a mental photo album of fun and a pining to go back.