Dublin Surprising Stories

The week of St. Patrick’s Day is always the beginning of the tourism season in Dublin. While there have not been many visitors to the city in recent years, behind the scenes things have been happening. Thanks to Fáilte Ireland funds have been made available to enhance tourism attractions and experiences around the city. Come on a tour with me to hear some of Dublin’s surprising stories. 

Dublin Surprising Stories 

The Custom House 

Dublin’s oldest and most stately building opened a visitor centre last year, to showcase 230 years of history, architecture and trade. The Custom House is an architectural masterpiece by James Gandon and a fascinating new museum in the city. The Custom House Visitor Centre is a multi-sensory experience, with audio benches, visual displays, and interactive screens to enhance the visitor experience and relive the events off 1921 when it was burned by the Irish Republican Army. See here.

Glasnevin Cemetery 

The surprising thing about Glasnevin Cemetery is that there more people buried here than alive in Dublin, almost 1.5 million on the 124-acre site. The most famous grave here is Daniel O’Connell, the Liberator. In his magnificent tomb there are also remains of ten relatives of O’Connell. Their lead-lined coffins are in an ante room beside his granite clad crypt.  

The grave of Michael Collins is one that is surprisingly covered in fresh flowers. People put flowers on his grave all the time. There is story of a French woman Veronique that has visited annually for more than 20 years. On the day I was there, I saw a rose plant with a note on it “from the Yank.” 

The Extra-Ordinary Lives tour at Glasnevin is perfect for those who want to hear the broader story of Glasnevin Cemetery – with tales of famous writers, musicians and artists. There are also amazing and quirky stories of the lives of some of the less well-known people whose final resting place is here. See here.

Croke Park 

This is without doubt the Mecca of Gaelic Games; Irish sports of football and hurling, for both men and women. The massive stadium is the third biggest in Europe and can hold 82,300 people. If you have any interest in Gaelic Games than the museum is fascinating. 

Here you can see the stunning gold and silver trophies and absorb the history of an association that began under British rule. My surprising fact from Croke Park, is that the heavyweight boxer of the world, Mohammad Ali fought there in 1972. He fought Al “Blue” Lewis and won. The shorts and gloves he wore are on show in the museum. See here.

EPIC – Every Person Is Connected 

If you ever wanted to put that to the test than EPIC is the place to begin finding your roots. The latest attraction at EPIC is the addition of an immersive audio-visual experience which tells the tales of two Irish emigrants.

Visitors are transported on board the Jeanie Johnston tall ship. Lights dim and candles flicker on screens around the room as Patrick Kearney tells his story on the main screen. The 23-year-old gardener left Tralee back in 1849 to escape the poverty and hunger engulfing Ireland during the Great Famine. 

After sitting below deck with Patrick, viewers are then brought on board a modern Aer Lingus flight where Dubliner Emma Dabiri highlights a very different emigrant experience. Though she lives in London, she regularly returns home and chats to her family on the phone. A very surprising experience, and well worth trying. See here.

Teeling Distillery – the Liberties 

The Liberties of Dublin was home of dozens of distilleries and breweries in olden days. The business was badly hit by prohibition in the Unites States in the 1920s and never really recovered until recently. 

Now there are four new distilleries in the Liberties and, the first newcomer is the Teeling Distillery in Newmarket. The stunning building dominates the square with its Phoenix wind-vane.  

The storytelling aspect on the ground floor has been updated, recounting the rich history and provenance of Dublin distilling. In a collaboration with local Dublin street artist Shane Sutton, visitors now follow a street art storyline around the walls of the space. There is also a nice café where you can enjoy lunch and smell the whiskey distilling. See here.

All of these Surprising Stories can be seen on the DoDublin hop on hop off bus tours.

What are your favourite museums and attractions in Dublin, let us know on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram

Joan Scales
Award-winning journalist, Joan has been writing about travel and tourism for many years principally for The Irish Times and lately for travel2ireland. Joan has appeared many times on television and radio talking about the business of travel and all its component strands. She is also a public speaker and has appeared at many international conventions and conferences.

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