I love Dublin. Like my parents I was born and bred here. We have no country cousins and most of my childhood memories centre on the city. We would lie on the floor in the Hugh Lane Gallery painting waiting for my mum to finish shopping, we collected stones for the garden on Donabate beach, our Santa was in Arnotts, good make-up was bought in Brown Thomas, the smell of hops meant you were in town proper.
I still love the city and my perfect day is hard to pin down. It depends on what you’re doing, whether it’s a shopping day or a wandering day or a party day. But I’ll try.
Get up early – not always easy in a city with as many pubs as Dublin has – but a walk through the city streets before the day has started is wonderful. All the better if it’s a clear morning after a rainy night – my favourite type of morning. To start I would head to Capel Street for coffee. It might be one of my favourite streets in town. The first time I lived alone my apartment was around the corner and Capel Street had everything I could want: good coffee, great Chinese takeout, furniture shops, antique shops, nail places and old Dublin women selling fruit from prams. The flower market is around the corner too. You really don’t need anywhere else.
Anyway I’d start my perfect day with coffee in Brother Hubbard. Well coffee and breakfast because I’m always hungry but I would try and limit myself because if it’s my perfect day I want to go for brunch, but anything on the Brother Hubbard menu is going to be good and you’ll leave happy (and caffeinated!).
Because we’re really close to the Luas line I’d jump on and go for a cycle in the Phoenix park. Hop off the Luas at Heuston Station and walk around the corner to the entrance of the park and hire a bike from the place at the gates. The park is huge but I would go to the first roundabout, take a left, zoom down the hill and explore from there.
You’ve done a workout so it’s time for brunch!! Get yourself back into town and head for Whitefriar Grill. I recommend the ham hock benedict but you can’t really go wrong here either. Oh, if you did go out the night before one of their Bloody Marys will cure you.
Time to go shopping now. There are so many great shops in Dublin but if I had to choose I would go to Brown Thomas, Folkster, Scout and Avoca. Then I would get all thoughts of clothes out of my head and spend about an hour in Fallon and Byrne. This food store in an old telephone exchange is one of my happy places. Shop for great food on the ground floor. Head downstairs for wine and tasting plates and to the top floor for lunch or dinner. But we’re only shopping right now so I’m staying on level 0.
Time for an afternoon snack so I’m going to The Wollen Mills a new eatery in a very old building on the quays. It’s part restaurant, part cafe, part bakery and all very good because it’s the sister business of The Winding Stair next door one of my favourite restaurants in Dublin.
Head along the Liffey now and hop on the Dart at Tara Street. My ideal Dublin day will always, always involve the sea so it’s time to go coastal. My favourite beach is the Hole in the Wall in Sutton and you’ll see it from the train as you head to Howth.
Walk the pier, wander around the village, go for a pint and then find yourself some seafood. I’d go to the Oar House. All the seafood is supplied by Dorans, which means it’s barely out of the water and is delicious. Get the platter and die happy.
I’m going to be honest now, I’m fit for bed but if I’d a bit of energy left, I’d have a few more pints in Howth (making sure to get the last Dart back into town) or return to the city centre and set up shop in The Long Hall. And I definitely wouldn’t be getting up early the next morning!
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Images: Jennifer Stevens