Lizzie Borden took an axe
And gave her mother forty whacks
When she saw what she had done
She gave her father forty-one
The economic collapse in Ireland at the end of the last decade hit Dublin like poor Lizzie Borden’s axe. As an Expat Irishman, it was not a pretty picture to see. If 2008/2009 was bad, in 2010/2011 it seemed as if the country was ready to give up and close down. However, a recovery of sorts has taken hold and nowhere is this more evident than in the capital. Apart from the ubiquitous Starbucks cafes that have seemed to spring up like Japanese knotweed in the city centre, Dublin has plenty of cool places to spend a lazy rainy day. From cutting edge hipster cafes and restaurants to state of the art museums and traditional bars, the city is re-emerging with a new found panache. In the words of Karen, a local resident who has weathered the ups and downs, it is being reborn as a centre of ‘shabby chic’.
For those of you who don’t know Ireland, it can indeed be a damp and rainy place. However, don’t let that put you off because there are loads of places to soak up the atmosphere of our quietly dynamic capital city.
The Green Door Market, Dublin 8
Located at 18 Newmarket Street in Dublin 8, The Green Door Market is where hip meets ad hoc and this is probably the place where you may want to start your rainy day in Dublin. The area is traditionally working class, but this simple market features fresh food with an international accent. Upon entering I was immediately struck by the Italian vendor chatting away in his native tongue with one of his regular customers. However, hearing the distinctive accent of the Argentinian cheese vendor talking to a Spanish customer really underscored the international character of this place. This is Dublin 8 with tones of San Telmo, Buenos Aires- international people and produce coupled with the feeling of meeting an old friend. Dublin wasn’t like this in the 80s nor even the 90s! Hopefully, it will keep its authenticity and resist the commercialisation that blights Temple Bar.
Rustic by Dylan
South Great George’s Street is the beating heart of Dublin’s emerging hipster scene and Rustic is one of the best places to savour the experience- literally. The retro lighting, black leather seating and wooden floors are reflected in a trompe d’oeil mirror to create a sense of space through savvy design. However, the highlight is the food, much of which is served using a Spanish stone cooking technique. As more diners arrive the restaurant acquires its distinctive odour- the smoking stone. With a focus on simple nutritious produce, the busy chatter of locals creates the buzz that gives the restaurant a uniquely Irish feel. Lunch here is the perfect kick start to a rainy afternoon.
Lunch for two of roast quail and bean soup with chorizo and coffee afterwards came to 30 euro. The service tip was at the discretion of the diner and I added about 15%. (2016 prices)
3fe, with its aim simple aim to ‘make nice coffee and be nice to people’, initially opened in Middle Abbey Street in the city centre. The focus on introducing quality coffees to Ireland allowed it to survive and thrive despite the stormy conditions of the economic crisis. To meet the growing market it moved to its current location on South Grand Canal Street, about a 15 minute walk from Trinity College Dublin. This heaven for coffee connoisseurs features coffees from the best estates around the world and each bag of coffee used or sold here can be traced right back to the farmer. If drinking the world’s favourite beverage is not enough, then there are also weekend brewing classes and barista training courses, all of which can be booked online. For coffee lovers there could hardly be a better way to spend a rainy afternoon.
Click here to learn about brewing classes at 3fe
Brew classes cost 125 euro and barista training classes cost 250 euro. Lunch-brunch prices vary from 5 euro for soup to 12 euro for main courses. Latte/espresso/cappuccino 3.50 to 4 euro. Nano cupping 5 euro. Water tasting 3 euro (the proceeds of which are donated to charity). All prices accurate as of March 2016.
Upstairs in the Central Hotel and a convenient escape from the bustle of nearby Grafton Street is one of Dublin’s best kept secrets. The Central Bar is a place where you might hear Irish language enthusiasts chatting away busily in Gaelic while foreign tourists linger over pints of Guinness. Looking like a retro refit from the 1980s (I am assured by a friend that it hasn’t changed since about 1985), the décor is perhaps as eclectic as the clientele. Think rich green carpets, lopsided lampshades and a cozy fireplace and you’re there- in your imagination at least. The warmth of the atmosphere will soon make you forget the chilly dampness of an Irish day. Add in free wifi and you’ve found the perfect place to relax and just get away from it all.
‘Shabby chic’- thy name is Central Bar, Dublin.
Prices are in line with cafes/ bars in the surrounding area. WiFi is free and there is no pressure to move on, although it can get busy.
Le Petit Parisien
Unlike 3fe, it’s not the coffee that makes Le Petit Parisien special, it’s the cakes and the ambiance. Small and dark, you might first be surprised at the queues at the door. However, don’t let this put you off at all, there’s a reason why people are prepared to wait. With brass chandeliers hanging from the ceiling, crystal light fittings on the wall and Ella Fitzgerald singing La Vie en Rose in the background, Le Petit Parisien is a place that soon seduces. Located near Murphy’s Ice Cream at 17 Wicklow Street, let it not be said that there is any need to live off potatoes in contemporary Ireland. Did I mention the variety of delicious French pastries?
Lunch specials from 9.95 to 12 euro. Drinks priced from 2.20 to 3.90 euro. Tarts all roughly 5 euro. (2016 prices)
Murphy’s Ice Cream
The first time I walked into Murphy’s Ice Cream parlour the traditional Irish fiddle music made it feel like a blast of the Dingle Peninsula in the heart of Dublin. But Murphy’s is much more than this. Each egg used is individually hand-cracked and the cream comes from a special breed of Kerry cow. The two brothers who set up this company wanted only the freshest ingredients to make their premium ice cream and the result shows in the taste. Put it like this, I was sceptical at first having lived for four years in Italy, where I fell in love with ‘gelato’, but I left this place a true believer.
For those of you intending to head to the west coast, this is a scrumptious foretaste of The Wild Atlantic Way. Located at 27 Wicklow Street, it has featured on various media including the NY Times, The Food Channel and Discovery Channel. Note the address and make sure to have a pit stop here on your rainy day itinerary.
Small/medium/large cones cost 4 euro, 5.50 euro and 7 euro. Small/medium/large cups cost 5 euro, 6.50 euro and 8 euro. (2016 prices)
The Guinness Storehouse
Having visited the Guinness factory as a child back in the early 80s, I really wasn’t in a hurry back. Little did I know the transformation that had taken place in the intervening years! This is about more than beer, but rather it’s a multimedia experience that showcases the ingredients and history of another black beverage that is synonymous with Dublin and Ireland. Highlights include the posters and early TV adverts, as well as the selection of more recent adverts that play on video screen walls. Make sure to watch the sun set over the city from the Gravity Bar at the end of the day. The experience is worth an afternoon in itself. In a word- WOW!
Book online to save time and money. 20 euro for an adult, 16 euro for a student with ID, 46.50 euro for a family of two adults and four children, 13.50 euro for a student under 18 with ID and 16 euro for a senior citizen. (2016 prices)
The Gate Theatre
Set up with by Michael MacLiammoir and Hilton Edwards, a gay couple when homosexuality was illegal in Ireland, The Gate Theatre is the perfect place to finish off an evening in Dublin. Featuring plays from around the world with an Irish accent, along with the Abbey and the Gaiety, this is one of the city’s cultural institutions. Given that Ireland became the first country to legalise gay marriage by referendum in 2015, MacLiammoir and Edwards are probably smiling down upon us from the spirit world beyond. How things have changed from the day when I visited the Guinness Factory on a school tour in the 80s. Vive la différence, as they say in Paris…
Prices from 15 euro to 39 euro depending on the performance. Book online on the website below. (2016 prices)
The Green Door Market: thegreendoor.ie
Rustic by Dylan: www.rusticstone.ie
Central Bar at Central Hotel: www.centralhoteldublin.com
Le Petit Parisien: lepetitparisien.ie
Murphy’s Ice Cream: www.murphysicecream.ie
Guinness Storehouse: www.guinness-storehouse.com
The Gate Theatre: www.gatetheatre.ie
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