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36 Hours in Ireland

Allan Joseph and Sam Stryker | Friday, August 31, 2012

DUBLIN – Greetings from Dublin, or as the locals call it, Baile Átha Cliath. Saturday marks the Emerald Isle Classic, the kickoff of the Fighting Irish football season. But before Notre Dame squares off against Navy, you have a city to explore. Take advantage of the fact this game is in a European metropolis. You don’t need the luck of the Irish to plan out your escapades through the capital of Ireland – we’ve done all the research on how to do Dublin right, and mapped out your journey from top to bottom. We know where to grab the perfect pint, capture a great view of the city, chow down on some scrumptious nosh, soak in some medieval history, stroll and shop to your heart’s content, experience the supreme drinking culture of the city and socialize with the friendly people of Ireland. So check out our perfectly planned itinerary to experience Dublin as a true Irishman would.

1. Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patrick’s Cathedral
You’re a Notre Dame student, so OF COURSE you have to make it to the two most venerable churches in all of Dublin. What the Yankees and the Red Sox are to baseball, these two medieval structures are to Irish churches – bitter rivals. A two-cathedral city is unprecedented, and the dispute between these two structures goes back centuries. St. Patrick’s Cathedral (the largest church in Ireland) is the National Cathedral of Ireland, while Christ Church Cathedral is the cathedral of the Diocese of Dublin. While Christ Church may be beat on size, it has St. Patrick’s on age – the latter “only” was erected in 1191, and the former was completed in 1030 – making it nearly a millennium-old structure. Let’s just call this one a draw, and enjoy the soaring medieval architecture of each.

2. Queen of Tarts
Dublin is a city known for its drinking, not eating – that’s what happen when you produce Guinness, whiskey and cider for libations and black pudding (don’t ask) for nosh. But if you search for the hidden gems, Dublin delivers. Queen of Tarts is one of these diamonds in the rough. From jolting coffee to scrumptious sandwiches to knock-your-socks-off desserts, the Queen serves up some of the finest goodies in town to line your stomach before you sample the city’s hallmark potent potables. Try one of the sandwiches on fresh-baked bread for lunch, and it should be against the law to skip dessert here. From rustic apple tart to chocolate fudge cake, the Queen will satisfy even the most discerning sweet tooth. Naturally, this is Ireland, so some of the desserts are boozy – we loved the Bailey’s cheesecake.

3. Trinity College and the Book of Kells
Want to be “so college” in Dublin? Then head to Trinity College, the preeminent institution of higher learning in Dublin. Established in 1592 as a Protestant university, Trinity College boasts Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Oscar Wilde and three presidents of Ireland as its alumni. And while its bookstore certainly cannot match Notre Dame’s, the pristine grounds of the College will surely wow you. For all you medieval history buffs, be sure to check out the Book of Kells, housed at the College. One of the preeminent works of medieval art, this manuscript dates to around 800 A.D. Bonus movie trivia: Trinity College’s Old Library was used as the Jedi Archives in the second “Star Wars” prequel.

4. Grafton Street and St. Stephen’s Green
Shop ’til you drop on Dublin’s trendiest (and most touristy) stretch of real estate. Of course, you are going to want to bring the best travel gifts home, thus a trip to Grafton Street is in order – and the street is named after an illegitimate son of King Charles II of England, so you know it has to be fun. Be sure to check out the buskers, or street performers, who display their talents along the street. At the south end of Grafton is St. Stephen’s Green, one of Dublin’s many public parks. A stroll through the Green is the perfect way to slow things down and savor your trip to the Emerald Isle.

5. Old Jameson Distillery
It might not be quite as popular as the Guinness Storehouse, but the Old Jameson Distillery is still worth some of your time and taste buds. You’ll get a guided tour through the history and process of distilling the world-famous Irish whiskey. As every good tour does, this one ends in a complimentary drink – and if you’re lucky, a mini-course in comparative whiskey tasting. The distillery also holds a restaurant and a gift shop, so it’s a great place to grab a meal and buy souvenirs for your friends back in the States.

6. Guinness Storehouse
The Guinness Storehouse at St. James’ Gate is the most popular tourist attraction in Ireland, and for good reason. It’s a massive facility dedicated to the craft of brewing Ireland’s most famous export, and it’s incredibly informative. The Storehouse is quite an impressive structure and an enjoyable visit (with a surprisingly affordable gift shop), but the crown jewel is the Gravity Bar at the top of the facility: a glass-encased bar where you can grab a complimentary pint – but the 360-degree view of Dublin is even better than that. It’s a totally breathtaking experience. Plus, how could you go travel all that way and not visit?

7. Walk along the River Liffey, with a stop at O’Brien’s Ferryman Inn
The River Liffey runs through the heart of Dublin and is a great walk with some beautiful sights. That starts almost exactly in the center of the city with the Customs House, a majestic domed building right on the north bank of the river. The south bank provides a great vantage point for photography (perhaps even a selfie or two), and a walk east takes you through some stunning architecture, including the harp-inspired Samuel Beckett Bridge and the modern Dublin Convention Center. Rest your feet at the O’Briens Ferryman Inn for a great atmosphere and view of the river – and a pint, or two.

8. Temple Bar
Every visitor to Dublin should make it a point to spend some time in the Temple Bar District. The site of Notre Dame’s massive tailgate party before Saturday’s game, the area is perhaps the best-known district of the Irish capital. It’s completely walkable, and the locals are friendly as always. You’ll find plenty of shops, but nothing will capture your attention like the many welcoming pubs in the area. Every establishment looks like it’s been around forever, and they’ll all be happy to welcome you in, serve you a pint and get you some food.

9. Aviva Stadium
Two-year-old Aviva Stadium is the center of the whole experience, as it’s the location of the sold-out clash between Notre Dame and Navy. Nearly 52,000 spectators (the vast majority of them Americans) will watch the teams play in a beautiful facility covered in glass panels that make the stadium a gem of modern architecture. Built to replace the old Lansdowne Road rugby stadium, Aviva is smaller than the much-older Croke Park (capacity: 82,000), but is undeniably Dublin’s prime venue. How do you know? Lady Gaga is playing a show there in two weeks.