Here are AJAx's top tips for things to do between the Go, assuming you ever stop playing go that is. The list is based on eight years experience of attending the Irish Open and spending some time in Dublin a nd around about. Ten exciting (really) ideas are listed below.
The IGA are organising official trips on the free Wednesdays to Kildare Japanese Gardens (see the giant Go ban in the tea house) and the prehistoric site at Newgrange (well it was new once). But for your own longer days out, five suggestions trips out that can be done without a car are shown at the bottom of the page.
I give no guarantee that you will enjoy the experiences indicated or find them interesting or even open when you get there.
Dublin Top 10
Just a short visit this one but handy to the Whiskey Centre. St Michan's church is architecturally nothing to write home about. However for those who enjoy the strange and spooky, then a trip into the vaults under the church is a must and quite cheap two. The guide will take you down below and show you old coffins and let you shake hands with a man who died some 600 years ago. Not for the faint hearted!
Look out for the strange chimney with a lift up the side. That ascent I do not recommend because of the large price. You probably saw better from the plane. But next door is the Jameson's Whiskey Centre. An old distillery now converted into an exhibition on Whiskey, with a film and of course a tasting session. This is of course the Irish sort of Whiskey and not that horrible Scotch/Malt/Whisky from other places. Not for the faint headed!
Enter Trinity College, worth a wander round itself as Ireland's premier seat of learning. Head for the library and pay to have a look at the displays, including the famous old illustrated book, the Book of Kells (it's named after a place and is not a Known Error Log List). Oh well it's just a book really, but look out for the large house to the right of the main entrance - that used to be a dorm for go players at the Irish Open (no really).
Not much remains of the old fortified castle, but the state rooms used nowadays by the president (not the British monarch) are usually open except when the president is using them. The castle chapel is probably the most memorable bit.
Thanks to a mediaeval dispute Dublin has two cathedrals (also a Catholic pro-Cathedral). Both are old and interesting if you like looking at old stone arches and the like. One is at the end of the street past the castle, and the other St Patrick's is a short walk south from the other.
The Dublinia Experience near the cathedral is one of those things where an audio-set takes you through tableaux of Dublin life in times gone by and how it developed. Unlike most of these, there is no sitting in little gondolas, you have to walk. Exit is actually through the Cathedral. If you want to know how Dublin got where it is, then this is for you.
If you like seeing ancient golden relics, then the History Museum near the parliament building is the place for you. From the ancient gold treasures though to the history of the uprisings, then this tells you more about why Ireland is the way it is. The museum also claims to have an oriental collection but it's never been open when I have been there, may be this time…
Nearby is the Natural History Museum full of animals and birds (all stuffed). Of course you can go down to the sea and see real birds in action, but you will not need to look for snakes thanks to St. Patrick...
If you want to see heads of famous Irish men and women, then the Wax Museum is just at the end of the road by the congress. You probably like me say who the heck is that for most of them and there are some tableaux the children might enjoy. For a more serious look at local personalities the Writers' Museum is also on Parnell Square.
If you want open spaces without heading for the hills then try Phoenix Park. This is right up the river on the other bank from Heuston Station. It contains a large pointed erection and the president's residence. Also contains the zoo, but I never bothered to pay money in March to watch shivering animals, so I don't know what they have got. Some of Dublin's other squares and gardens are worth a visit such as St. Stephens Green and of course the Peace Garden opposite the congress.
Top Tips for Out of Town Trips
A stately home in a small town by the sea and ancestral home of Noel Mitchell (the town not the castle). Also has a model railway open on peak days. Take a train north from Conolly, takes 20-30 minutes about once every 45 minutes.
It's that big lumpy rock north of Dublin- good views from the top. Travel by dart every 10-15 minutes to the end of the line at Howth. Also there's a transport museum open at weekends.
Take a bus tour of the city. Usually a bus with no roof, so pick a nice day. You can hop on and off all day on the same ticket (8 IRP). For a half day tour you can get on at the Gresham and visit Howth and Malahide in the morning, or do a tour down the coast in the afternoon (each 12 IRP). A full day trip will take you as far as the Ballykissangel country south of Dublin (24 IRP). Or take the ghost bus late in the evening…
It is now possible to pop to the occupied Irish part of the United Kingdom (Ulster) in about two hours by the Enterprise train from Connolly. This will be expensive, maybe 30 IRP, but you can visit Belfast, the Folk and Transport museums in Cultra or the coastal castle at Carrickfergus, easily in a day. Don't forget they use different money up there too. Alternatively you could take a day cruise on the ferries to Holyhead in Wales and back.
With time and a bit of money you can use the Irish trains to visit some of the farther flung parts of the island. Most lines can be done out and back in a day (rather a long one usually). The shorter ones worth looking at are Arklow (2 hours), Drogheda (30 mins), Cork and Cobh (3 or 4 hours), Limerick (2 - 2.5 hours) Trains to the west go from Heuston station, others from Connolly/Tara Street/Pearse.
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