Top Ten Things To Do If You’re a Postgrad In Dublin

First written for postgrad.com 2016

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Recently I have written a few pieces about being a postgraduate student for postgrad.com. Here is my second offering: a top 10 of things to do in Dublin. Hopefully there are a few things that you haven’t previously thought of and there are many ideas for tourists and residents in search of something new!

So you’re going to be a postgraduate student in Dublin. The Irish capital is thriving and has a unique take between new and old. Explore Ireland’s world famous arts and heritage and enjoy the sights and sounds of this ideal postgraduate city.

1. Stroll Around Phoenix Park

This beautiful urban park is one of the largest walled city parks in Europe. It is so big it includes a zoo, Aras an Uachtaráin (the official residence of the President of Ireland), a visitor centre and Ashtown Castle. It’s particularly lovely in springtime when you can lie among the bluebells and wait to spot some of the wild deer that live there.

2. Visit Kilmainham Gaol

First built in 1796, this former prison hosted some of the most infamous and momentous events of twentieth century Irish history. Visit this museum to see where revolutionaries such as Patrick Pearse and James Connolly were held after their attempt to overthrow the British administration in Ireland with the 1916 Easter Rising. The site where they were summarily tried and executed will send shivers down your spine.

3. Eat Murphy’s Ice Cream

Now is your chance to indulge in the legendary caramelised brown bread ice cream that Murphy’s parlour is famous for. Often voted the best in Ireland, no stay in Dublin is complete without a trip to this Donegal import. Sample every flavour under the sun when relaxing between seminars.

4. Catch A Game At Croke Park

Although rugby is the nation’s game, at Croke Park you can also see the very best of Gaelic football and hurling. For the uninitiated hurling looks like a cross between football and quidditch, but is unfailingly exhilarating and entertaining. One weekend take to the stands and cheer on the Dubs!

5. Enjoy Seafood In Howth

Howth is a picturesque fishing village on the North side of Dublin. Work up an appetite walking along the cliffs before taking your pick of the dozens of fish restaurants. Where else can you look out over the harbour while eating Dublin bay prawns fresh from the sea?

6. Trawl Temple Bar

Usually the first stop for tourists Temple Bar is still well worth a visit. If possible go in spring or autumn when you can enjoy the live music, daytime book markets and food markets. Take the time to explore the record shops selling vinyl classics at bargain prices. Visit one of the many theatre or galleries that pepper the area and enjoy a pint of the black stuff as the sun goes down.

7. Indulge In Historical Drinking

An alternative to Temple Bar, visit the oldest pub in the city. Established in 1198 the Brazen Head is a chance to step back in time. Each night there is something different from Irish storytellers, live music and extensive food and drink menus. When you have settled in this is the perfect place to bring visitors and impress them with your local knowledge.

8. Check Out Trinity College Dublin

The official guided tour of the Elizabethan college includes entry to the Books of Kells and Old Library – which is also home to the first printing of the Irish Proclamation. Starting at the front gate, which took pride of place in the Oscar winning film Educating Rita, take a trip through the interesting, bizarre and unique world of Ireland’s oldest university.

9. Spend Christmas Eve On Grafton Street

The main shopping throughway in Dublin attracts people from all over the country to do their Christmas shopping. The Christmas lights are beautiful with a large tree lit up before the entrance of Stephens Green Park. Grafton Street is also famous for its buskers. Wandering along you can hear Irish chart toppers, classical choirs and acoustic love songs. On December 24th each year a celebrity busking session for charity frequently includes Bono, Hozier, Damien Rice and Glen Hansard.

10. Enjoy Festivals

One of the lesser known facts about Dublin is that there is a festival for everything. At almost any time of the year you can attend a festival. One of the highlights of the calendar is the annual Drac Fest which pays homage to Dracula, written by one of the cities famous sons: Bram Stoker. October Fest is always great fun, as are the Christmas markets found on the Docklands and in theatre and Cathedral crypts.

 

St Michan’s Church & Crypt Tour – Krank.ie

First Published December 2014 on krank.ie


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St Michan’s parish church and crypt is one of Dublin’s best kept secrets. Although not often in “Top 10 things to do in Dublin” lists, St Michan’s is a historical and local goldmine. Tours of the site offer a unique Dublin experience that should be at the top of everyone’s must see list. It is not just for tourists but also for those with either a love of history or who are hoping to get to know their city a little better.

A Church has been on the site since 1095 and for many centuries it was the only parish church on the city’s North Side. The history of the North Side and of Dublin’s expansion is written in the history of St. Michan’s. The church is still in use, as it has been for over 900 years.

However, perhaps the most popular reason for visiting is the crypts. These can only be accessed on guided tours but it is well worth the €5 entrance fee. There are five long burial vaults underneath the church that are thought to date from the late 16th century. The preservation of the vaults and their contents is incredible.

Some of the crypts are technically still in use and cannot be lit, however some are open to view. They contain the mummified remains of many of Dublin’s influential citizens. One of the most exceptional artefacts is the mummified body of a six foot tall crusader who is thought to be around 800 years old. He shares a crypt with a 400 year old nun, whose finger nails and toenails have miraculously been preserved. Further one of the crypts contains the remains of famous Irish rebels and heroes: The Sheares Brothers who were executed after the failed 1798 rebellion.

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The guide has an exhaustible knowledge on the church and Irish history associated with it. Impressively he was also able to converse with different members of the groups in their own languages, including Spanish and Italian. Fortunately though this is not a tour that rams dates and facts down your throat, but instead takes a nice leisurely pace and gives the attendees the opportunity to ask questions. This focus on quality of information rather than sheer quantity also leaves you still interested, hoping to learn more and also able to remember most of what you have heard. The guide is particularly special and a great asset to St Michan’s.

The church itself is free to enter for private prayer and contemplation and is well worth visiting alongside the crypts. The church also opens for services as a part of the Church of Ireland and the worldwide Anglican Communion. Further information about their religious service can be found on the website.

One room in the Church is reserved for art and photography exhibitions which are free to enter and the gift shop, the staff of which are very friendly, sell some lovely women’s jewellery and other items.

Although the church grounds and graveyard are a little overgrown and many of the names on the gravestones are hard to read, it makes for a pleasant break from the industrial and apartment buildings which now make up the landscape of Smithfield. There are several benches for the weary traveller to soak in the atmosphere of this historical gem.

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Tours of the crypts are conducted Monday to Friday 10 – 12:45 and 2 – 4.45pm and Saturday 10 – 12.45 pm. Check online for winter and holiday opening hours.
Tours cost €5 per adult, various group, student and OAP entry fees are available.
Approximate duration of your visit is 1 hour.
St Michan’s is easily accessible on the red LUAS line or on foot from Smithfield Square – close to the Liffey Quays and Four Courts. The crypts are not wheelchair accessible.

[Images: stmichans.com]