Seeing Dublin on Two Feet

A street scene in Dublin, Ireland. Marley Henderson photos.
A street scene in Dublin, Ireland. Marley Henderson photos.

By Marley Henderson

A city full of character, history, and stories are best viewed on your own two feet. The city of Dublin, Ireland has so much to offer to its curious walkers.

An exhibit of the transformation of ships at Epic.
An exhibit of the transformation of ships at Epic.

It wasn’t nearly as large as I pictured, but it is jam-packed with attractions on every street and corner. With each step I took, a historic monument or traditional Irish pub stood across from me, leaving me no time for boredom or downtime.  There is always something to do in Dublin, or to see or to learn, both old and new.

Although not limited to, here are some of my favorite attractions I got to see all across the city, just traveling on my own two feet.

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Epic: The Irish Emigration Museum

The Epic Museum is like no other museum you’ve ever been to, I can almost certainly guarantee. This had to be one of my favorite stops in Dublin; not just telling history, but showing, through a dense jungle of technology.

The extensive technological presentations of stories, people and Ireland enhanced the experience far beyond what I had envisioned. Here I am thinking, “another museum…” but I was quite wrong. It was an amazing portrayal of Irish history.

Epic was a very detailed, interactive experience. I was provided with a paper passport that served essentially as a map on the tour and each room with a stamping machine.

A nod to Dublin's musical history at the Epic Museum.
A nod to Dublin’s entertainment history at the Epic Museum.

By the time I left the building, I was able to mark-up my passport until it was completely full with red ink.

The rooms each exhibit a completely different facet to which the specific history within Ireland is displayed. Some of my favorite rooms on the tour were Discovering and Inventing, Changing the Game, and Eating and Drinking.

Through the technology, I was able to take my own journey through these different topics, choosing deeper channels of discovering the stories and artifacts.

The building is also nestled right across from River Liffey and the Famine Memorial. The Memorial is a collection of statues that portrays the hardships Irish men, women and children faced during the infamous time of Irish history. A truly moving artifact any visitor can see.

Video storytelling at Epic.
Video storytelling at Epic.

Henrietta Street

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Next stop, 14 Henrietta Street. The house on Henrietta street was the most authentic way to immerse myself in history and feel most connected to people of the time. The house just recently opened for tours, after some much-needed restoration.

The mansion began construction in 1740 and took ten years to complete, with the original flooring to this day. You’ll also see original wallpaper, wall paint, staircases, and the very rooms that families of up to 12 were living in.

A recreation of the basement room made from real photographs at 14 Henrietta Street.
A recreation of the basement room made from real photographs at 14 Henrietta Street.

After the first residents, Thomas Vines bought the house and turned it into 17 luxury flats, each with 1-3 bedrooms, running water, gas, and toilets. This street went from being home of the rich to the poor around the late 1800s and by 1911, over 100 people lived in this particular building and over 1,000 people on the very small street.

One distinct room, cold and dark with no windows and a mud floor, in the basement, came with extended history and stories of a poor family of 11, and some members are still living today to tell their story.

On the tour, videos are played in the rooms showcasing the resident families, stories and the immaculate history of the street itself for an engaging experience. Being in this home and the presentation of the tour did an amazing job making me feel like I was truly living in the time period and connecting with the residents.

If you’re looking to time travel back about 100 years, the Henrietta house is the place for you.

Guinness Storehouse

Beer fan or not, the Guinness Storehouse is a must see. I was familiar with the beer itself before I traveled across the pond, only because it’s my father’s drink of choice. But, I had no idea about the history behind the famous Irish brew.

The storehouse is “home of the Black Stuff, the heart of Dublin and an unforgettable start to  your Irish adventure.”

View of the city from Guinness Storehouse.
View of the city from Guinness Storehouse.

The building is made up of seven floors of interactive experiences that fuse not only the brewing heritage and the country’s rich history, but the history of the Guinness family, which I must add, is very intriguing.

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Free pints at the end of the Guinness Storehouse tour.
Free pints at the end of the Guinness Storehouse tour.

After traveling through the circular museum up the many floors offering different experiences and bars, the top floor is worth the climb.

Each visitor is rewarded with a pint of Guinness at their famous rooftop Gravity Bar. The bar located at the very top of the building, offers 360-degree views of the city skyline and surrounding hills, with floor to ceiling glass windows. Maybe the best way to view the city is actually at Gravity Bar?

Shopping and Drinking

Temple Bar dressed for the holiday season.
Temple Bar dressed for the holiday season.

Grafton street is not only the premier shopping street in Dublin, but it is also a social and cultural icon of the city.

All day, every day, buskers and entertainers will be found along the street with stop-worthy performances. You can also find some of Dublin’s best pubs, perfect souvenir shops, as you soak up the authentic atmosphere of the capital.

Temple Bar is not a bar. Yes, you read that right; it’s one of the oldest parts of Dublin. It is now considered Dublin’s Cultural Quarter.

There is always a great atmosphere in Temple Bar and it is great to take time to stroll around the pedestrianized streets and bar hop.

The area of Dublin is the nightlife hub of the city. There are a variety of restaurants, pubs and music venues, and plenty of cafes to cure you the next morning.