Dublin Castle is quite the fairytale inside and out. Massive medieval fortress walls protect an inner sanctum of majestic staterooms, filled with enough fabulous artwork, furniture and crystal to please any King or Queen ?

The only thing is we Irish don’t do royalty, we even managed to mislay the crown jewels! The nearest we got to a truly noble figurehead was Michael Collins who received the keys of the castle in 1922 ending some 800 years of British rule and tenancy. The question then was, what would we do with it?

Apart from being used as a centre of intelligence, Garda headquarters is still there it is now mainly used for elaborate state occasions. The last visiting dignitary to stay there was Dame Margaret Thatcher, who incidentally turned 85 last week just as the Chilean miners emerged from their incarceration......

And while it is open to the public with excellent informative guided tours conducted daily, including an underground tour of the Viking ramparts, not many Irish people seem to visit? Perhaps, because it has always being deemed more of an English institution then an Irish tradition, and an interest in anything with an English association was certainly frowned upon when I was a child. The chapel royal has only recently been reopened and has a very special ornate gothic interor. There is even an enclosed medieval knot garden on the site of the original Dubh Linn or black pool at the epicentre of the original city where the castle cat still reigns peacefully over his minions.....

But the real jewel in the crown, see I told you we still had some, is the Chester Beatty Library in the grounds of Dublin Castle. It houses a wonderful collection of oriental art and rare manuscripts and is a million times more interesting then the Book of Kells and its free! In the same building is the wonderful Silk Road Cafe whose cuisine is based on the delights of the Far East....its a 10 out of 10 place to eat or have mint tea, coffee and turkish delight.

For more information on Dublin visit http://www.irelands-hidden-gems.com/ or download my free iPhone app guide My Dublin by Susan Byron

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