As an Irishman living in London, it’s vitally important to maintain links with the motherland by annually submerging myself in the grand culture of my people, before returning to London fresh and thrumming with renewed Celtic energy. Today, I will share with you my meticulously curated itinerary.
How to get there: Fly Aer Lingus, of course. Our flag carrier not only has a dirty sounding name, but flies dozens of times per day from London Heathrow to Dublin airport.
Where to stay: Book a room at The Merrion, a stunning five-star hotel in a converted row of Georgian townhouses south of the Liffey. Its cavernous halls are bedecked with a sprawling private art collection, with celebrity chef Paul Kelly (our version of Paul Hollywood) heading up the afternoon tea by creating pastries inspired by the paintings on the walls.
Where to eat: The cellar bar at The Merrion has the feel of a moody local pub, while the more sophisticated whiskey-sipping happens upstairs in the drawing room. For fine dining there’s the Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud, the only restaurant in Ireland to hold two Michelin stars. If you forgot to pack a dress shirt, The Cellar Restaurant in the basement of The Merrion is a more come-as-you-are affair, serving plates of hearty Irish cuisine with a contemporary twist.
What to do: Take a guided tour of the Guinness Storehouse, which is situated directly above the vast underground reservoir of stout from which all Guinness is drawn. You’ll learn the art of the two-part pour and see an animatronic whistling oyster, a remnant of a forgotten TV ad campaign that even the guide will admit resembles a lady’s personal hoo-hah.
What to see: An ancient Irish tradition dating back to 1994, Riverdance is the invention of dancing wizard Michael Flatley, whose accursed legs and feet became an international sensation. The Gaeity Theatre runs daily performances of this cornerstone of Irish culture.
Which of the two bus tours should I take? There are two big bus tours departing from O’Connell Street. The first is a sobering guided trip around historic sites of the 1916 Rising, an emotionally fraught journey charting the armed insurrection by Irish revolutionaries that eventually led to the formation of the Republic. The other is a fun ghost tour on which you get to visit a haunted graveyard. Easy choice.
Anything else? Rent a car if you fancy getting out of Dublin for the day, as Ireland doesn’t really do trains. Cork is just a three hour drive away, and from there you can drive on to embark on The Ring of Kerry, an epic scenic route that encompasses some of the most majestic and postcard-like bits of the Irish countryside.