Dublin 101: Visiting the Emerald Isle

Cead Mile Failte (Irish for “A Hundred Thousand Welcomes”) is the greeting you will receive from many when you arrive in Dublin. And a hundred thousand welcomes you will feel as you begin to explore this amazing city that is the heart and center of Ireland.

When planning a trip to Dublin, be prepared for anything. One second you will find yourself sipping tea in the sun at an outdoor café on Grafton Street, and the next you’ll be popping into a pub for a pint and a toasted cheese (grilled cheese sandwich) to avoid the pouring rain. Here is a quick guide of things to do in and around Dublin and a few important facts to know before you arrive.
Things You Can’t Miss
Guinness Brewery, St. James’s Gate
Take a trip to the Guinness Brewery to learn about the history of this dark, creamy, delicious concoction. With the price of the tour ticket, you’ll get two pints — for free! Find out about pouring the perfect pint.

Dublin 101: Visiting the Emerald Isle

St. Stephan’s Green
If the sun comes out, grab a sandwich and head to St. Stephan’s Green. It’s a great spot to relax and people-watch.

Trinity College
You can’t miss Trinity College, the oldest university in Ireland — it’s right in the center of town. Housed in the library, you will find the Book of Kells, the famous ninth-century illuminated manuscript.

General Post Office, O’Connell Street
The General Post Office (GPO) was the sight of the April 17, 1916, Easter Rising. On this day, Ireland was first proclaimed a Republic, free from Britain’s rule. You can still find bullet holes in the walls.

National Museum of Ireland
A beautiful museum that is home to many Irish masterpieces.

Places to Drink BEER
Okay, now for the important stuff — the pubs! More than just watering holes, Irish pubs are the center of the country’s culture. Whether you are a beer drinker or not, you can always find good music and lots of craic (Irish for “fun,” pronounced “crack”) at any pub, any time of day. Here is a quick list of some favorites.

• O’Donoghue’s, 15 Merrion Row
This is the pub of all pubs. It is always packed with people and there is always live Irish music to enjoy. It’s smokey. It’s quaint. It is Irish.

• The Brazen Head, Bridge Street
This is supposedly the oldest pub in Ireland. It was officially founded in 1668.

• Slattery’s, 129 Caple Street
One of the local favorites for watching football (a.k.a. soccer) on Monday nights. Always a good pint and a hot toasted cheese.

• McDaid’s, Harry Street
An old literary haunt. Back in the day, McDaid’s was a favorite among the likes of Keats, Shaw, Joyce and Beckett.

Thing to Know

  •  Tipping: It is customary to leave a small tip if you get good service. It is not necessary to leave 15 percent, as in the U.S.
  •  VAT: This stands for the Value Added Tax. If you buy goods in Ireland, you will be charged an extra 23 percent in tax. But if you keep your receipts, you can claim the 23 percent back at the airport. It takes extra time, but it’s worth it.
  •  Buying Rounds: When you go out with a group of Irish people, each person is expected to buy a round of beer. So if you go out with five people, you will end up drinking five beers (you can always opt for a soda whenever you think you’ve had enough). Tip: Go out in small groups. If you go out with 10 people, you might end up dragging yourself home.
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