BY JANET STEINBERG
“In Dublin’s fair city, where the girls are so pretty,
I first set my eyes on sweet Molly Malone…”
Just as the tragic ballad laments, there she stood greeting me at the top of Grafton Street. In all her buxom bronze splendor, the 18th-century fish-monger is still drawing a crowd to her wheel-barrow laden with cockles and mussels. Immortalized in 1988 by sculptor Jean Rynhart, Molly Malone has been affectionately, yet irreverently, dubbed by irrepressible Dubliners as “The Tart with the Cart”.
In contrast, across the road from this provocative pushcart peddler, is the staid campus of Trinity College. One of the main cultural, geographical, and social hubs of the city, Trinity College was founded in 1592. You may have to wait in line to view the illuminated, Middle Ages manuscript known as “The Book of Kells”, but there is no wait to enjoy the splendor of the Henry Moore and Calder sculptures on the campus lawns.
HENRY MOORE ON TRINITY COLLEGE LAWN
“Publand”, as Dublin is called, is home to 1000 pubs and 1-million-plus people.
One might say that Dublin begins at the O’Connell Bridge that spans the Liffey River. The Liffey flows through the center of town, separating the northern part of the city from the southern side. Standing on the O’Connell Bridge, in the shadow of Daniel O’Connell’s statue, one can gaze down the river at the rainbow-arched Ha’penny Bridge. This cast-iron pedestrian bridge, dating back to 1816, was officially named the Wellington Bridge. Its nickname was derived from the half-penny toll that was once charged to cross it.
|THE ARCHED HA’ PENNY BRIDGE OVER THE LIFFEY RIVER|
In the 18th and 19th century, elegant Georgian mansions were built along the banks of the river. They soon stretched outward from the banks of the river. Today, a favorite tourist pastime is photographing the beautiful fan-arched doors of those mansions as they preen like peacocks for the clicking shutterbugs. The area around Fitzwilliam Square claims the most photographed door in Dublin.
|GEORGIAN DOOR SAID TO BE THE MOST PHOTOGRAPHED DOOR IN DUBLIN|
The 18th century mansion at #1 Merrion Square was the childhood home of Oscar Wilde from 1855-1878. This magnificent Georgian home has been restored to its former glory and now houses the American College of Dublin.
CHILDHOOD HOME OF OSCAR WILDE
Across the street, in Merrion Park a lifelike sculpture of Oscar Wilde reclines on a huge granite boulder. Pipe in hand, this devilish Dubliner is clad in a pink and green smoking jacket, blue slacks, black shoes, and silk socks so real looking that I had to touch them to believe they were made of granite. And that’s no blarney!
OSCAR WILDE IN MERRION PARK
For what might well be Dublin’s best Fish and Chips, skip the pubs and head for The Cellar Restaurant in the basement of The Merrion Hotel, one of the city’s 5-star luxury hotels.The Cellar Restaurant’s warm welcome is the perfect complement to a menu that celebrates the best of Irish cuisine.
After hundreds of years of darkness and silence, the rough stone walls of Lord Mornington’s wine vault have come to life in the hotel’s Cellar Bar. The bar’s arches echo with ripples of warm laughter, and the amiable staff will “pull a proper pint” and teach you the difference between Guinness Stout and Smithwick Ale (also brewed by Guinness).
Opened in October, 1997, the magnificent Merrion Hotel was created within four lovingly restored 18th Century terrace houses opposite the seat of the Irish Government on Upper Merrion Street. In fall and winter, the air in the gracious Drawing Room is filled with the scent of woodsmoke and flowers. Log fires crackle and sunbeams shine upon Belgian tapestries, French chandeliers, and priceless Irish paintings. In spring and summer the terrace is alive with ducks swimming to the music of water splashing on the pebbles in the garden pools.
|DUCKS SWIM IN GARDEN POOL AT MERRION HOTEL|
From the hotel’s garden, the scent of lilac and jasmine in the air drifts through the open windows of Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, the most renowned kitchen in Ireland.
|MERRION HOTEL GARDEN|
With the luck of the Irish, you will be able to leave lots of green shopping on the Emerald Isle. Brown Thomas on Grafton Street, Royal Hibernian Way, and St Stephens Mall, are good for starters. Look for Bellek Porcelains, Royal Tara China, Waterford Crystal, hand-woven tweeds and Irish linens. And don’t forget a leprechaun or two.
|DON’T FORGET A LEPRECHAUN OR TWO|
Bye for now. It’s time for me to savor an Irish coffee.
JANET STEINBERG is an award-winning Travel Writer, International Travel Consultant, and winner of 40 national Travel Writing Awards.