There we were, at the Guinness Storehouse – Ireland’s premier tourist attraction –learning how to pour the perfect pint, when the man in charge spilled an unexpected invitation. He’d already told us a barrel-load of fascinating facts. Did you know Buckingham Palace has Guinness on tap for the Queen and staff to enjoy a favourite tipple? Or that canny businessman Arthur Guinness secured a 9000-year lease on the historic St James Gate brewery site back in December 1759? It’s nice to discover supplies are safe for at least another 8742 years.
It was nicer still when our new best friend said he was going to play his ukulele at a pub that night, and asked if we would like to come along. That’s why we were slinking down an ill-lit alley next to the historic Stag’s Head, hearing dozens of ukuleles thunder out a rousing version of Psycho Killers we searched for the back stairs. It was 11.30pm on a Tuesday but the night was yet young, as our sore heads testified the very next morning. Dublin is full of such crazy surprises. It’s not just the tiny, atmospheric bars on almost every corner – many featured in books and films – offering great craic to locals and tourists alike.
There are scores of well-known cultural attractions from the unmissable Book of Kellsto the cathedral-like Long Room at Trinity College. There’s a museum for almost everything in Dublin, from writing to whiskey. Check out the awe-inspiring Chester Beatty Library – admission is free – bursting with the late mining magnate’s world-famous collection of rare manuscripts, prints, drawings and decorative arts.
Visit the National Museum of Ireland’s archaeology section for a treasure trove of jaw-dropping Celtic gold, plus mummified bog bodies sure to creep out the kids. Or drop by the Little Museum of Dublin on St Stephen’s Green, which offers a snapshot of the buzzing city surrounding it, including an exhibit on hometown rockers U2. It’s easy to stroll around, since much of the laid-back city centre is pedestrianised. Everywhere you go, you’ll meet a Dubliner wanting a laugh and a chat. As one local told me: ‘The Irish are the most curious people in the world, but it’s great... The only thing under pressure here is the beer.’
GETTING THERE -Named the best airline in the world by Skytrax four years in a row, Qatar Airways offers daily one-stop flights from Australia – Sydney, Melbourne, Perth – to Dublin, and five times a week from Adelaide, via Doha. Competitively priced, the connectivity is excellent. Alternatively, you could choose to spend a transit night at The Airport Hotel in Doha and grab the chance to get out and about in Qatar’s fast-growing, fascinating capital city.
For more on Dublin, visit ireland.com.