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A few things to do in and around Dublin that aren't at the head of the regular tourist lists - and some that are. Mostly easy to get to on foot or public transport
Not a library but a museum of oriental art - everything from the very earliest copies of the gospels, yes, the very earliest - written only a hundred years after the death of Christ - to gorgeous Chinese dragon robes and Japanese pillow books. And half the famous Mogul paintings you've ever seen reproduction of are here too. And Japanese prints - I could go on all day. Also the amazing Silk Road Cafe for lunch - worth the trip just for that
Ok, this one is just plain silly and you probably think you are too grown up and sensible to enjoy it. Well I'm grown up and sensible and I love it, and if you've been walking the city streets and tramping round museums for half the day this is just the way to relax for the other half. Yes, its a plain old bus tour with the guide telling about what your are passing. But its a plain old bus tour in world war 2 landing craft, so it takes to the water as well. The guides are really funny as well as informed and you get to wave battle axes and yell war cries at the passers by. I pride myself on my refined sense of humour but this one had me rolling in the aisles with the rest of the gang. If necessary borrow some children to get you into the mood
Visit Howth on a sunday. Catch a DART train to the end of the line and pick up your picnic ingredients in the weekly farmers market on the harbour. Walk out along the harbur and feed the seals some mackerel from one of the fish shops and maybe catch the boat out to Ireland's Eye for an hour or two. Or climb the steep hill up to the summit (its very steep and you may want to catch a bus instead) and grab a pint at the Summit Inn before strolling around beautiful Howth Head with its views south to the Wicklow Mountains or north to the Mournes.
This one is on the tourist guide lists as a coach tour. Don't waste your money on that - its more fun to catch the DART to Malahide and walk up through the castle grounds. You'll get exactly the same tour of the house whichever way you do it. Unfortunately the amazing botanic gardens are closed until Easter 2012 while work is going on to make them more accessible, but there are lots of good plantings in the park. A great childrens playgroud as well.
If you go to Dublin you have to have one must drink in pub on the list. The Long Hall is a wonderful Victorian pub on George's Street. The Guinness is great and and its always heaving with locals - never feels touristy. And if you are heading that way in shopping hours then you'll probably pass the Doll's Hospital on the way where they'll refurbish your tired old teddy to stop him falling apart - he can be completely refurbished or you can keep that loved for a long time look. Worth seeing what patients they have in when you are going past. And of course you can also buy a new friend to take home
OK - it was already on your list because you've got to see the Book of Kells. Which is amazing and the exhibition around it is stunning. But this is about how you see Trinity and the best way is to book one of the tours of the campus that start at the front gate. You'll get an entertaining and informative understanding of how this beautiful University evolved over the centuries and you'll hear some stories that aren't in the guide books. You'll also see the Long Room of the library and whatever exhibition is running at the time of your visit - these change every few weeks. If you saw Queen Elizabeth in Ireland you'll have seen the Long Room and you'll see the original of the harp that was played during her visit. The Long Room also features in the Star Wars movies virtually enhanced as the Jedi library.
I'm not a zoo fan in general, and years ago I hated this one when the animals were all in old fashioned enclosures. These days they have a chance to live natural lives - you haven't laughed until you've seen a baby elephant ambush its teenage brother and push it into the pool. With big brother playing along. Good food at reasonable prices in the restaurants too. This is the favourite day out of them all for Dublin families. And you can enjoy just walking in the Phoenix Park as well while you're there - the park is the largest urban park in Europe and has all sorts of other delights from the formal rose gardens to the history museum at Ashtown Castle and the walled vegetable garden at the same place