Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College is Ireland’s oldest and most notable college. Among its alumni are such renowned writers as Jonathan Swift and Oscar Wilde. Today, visitors from around the world come to explore the college’s verdant campus and towering Gothic-style halls.
But the real reason to visit is to take a gander inside the Old Library. These hallowed halls house an amazing collection of literature. Of all the books at the Old Library, the most famous and priceless one is the “Book of Kells.” This illustrated version of the gospels was created around A.D. 800 by Celtic monks. The manuscripts’ pages come to life with vibrantly hued depictions of Christ and his followers, bordered by intricate Celtic knots and other designs. Whether or not you’re religious, previous visitors agreed that seeing the “Book of Kells” in person is truly a sacred experience. Although some visitors complained of crowds in the library, most agreed the “Book of Kells” is a must-see.
St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest cathedral in Dublin and the national cathedral of the Church of Ireland. Built on the site where St. Patrick is said to have baptized converts some 600 years earlier, this massive cathedral was erected between 1220 and 1259 with major restorations beginning in the 1860s. It remains one of the few buildings still standing from medieval Dublin.
Today, this is one of the most renowned and beloved churches in the world, hosting about 500,000 visitors annually. While you’re here, make sure to spend plenty of time admiring the towering vaulted ceilings and the delicate details that accompany the Gothic style.
Did you know that in Irish, whiskey is called uisce beatha and literally translates to “the water of life”? Chronicling the history of the Jameson family and the “water” they’re known for, the Jameson Distillery no longer makes the hard stuff (that’s done elsewhere) though it does offer tours that provide insight on just how to do it. Whiskey drinkers hail the 40-minute guided tour (and the included tastings) as informative and fun, with energetic guides and a beautiful refurbished facility.
Whether you’re a fan of whiskey or not, learning about the history is sure to entertain anyone. Even non-drinkers say they enjoyed the informative tour. Like learning that the founder of the most famous Irish whiskey, John Jameson, was actually a Scotsman. Or that the Latin on the bottle’s label, Sine Metu, means “without fear.”
Like the Jameson Distillery, the Guinness Storehouse is no longer a functioning brewery, but it will give you an insider’s view into the history and process behind the storied stout. Take the self-guided tour through the former brewery’s seven floors to learn about the history of the one-of-a-kind beer, from the ingredients used in the brewing process to the iconic advertisements seen around the world. At the top, you’ll be treated to a complimentary pint and city views from its rooftop Gravity Bar.
The best part of the tour for some visitors? The complimentary pint at the end along with the rooftop views. Even non-beer drinkers enjoyed the storehouse for its interactive and multimedia exhibits, but noted that during peak times they can be crowded. Other comment that tickets are a bit pricey.