When you live in a city or town full time it is sometimes the case that you can’t see the wood for the trees. As someone who really loves my hometown of Dublin city I had the pleasure of having my eyes reopened on a walking tour of the streets I thought I knew so well.
Those who know the streets of any town tend to go to their favorite spots and perhaps not notice the new establishments popping up, old ones you have never explored or changes to the artwork around the city's buildings. It’s easy to stick to an old routine as a local.
Even worse, those visiting the city might not stray off the tourist track and see only the top listed attractions, which although fantastic don’t lend you to having a unique experience of what the city has to offer.
The le cool Dublin branch was established five years ago and releases a weekly guide of what’s on in the “Dirty Auld Town.” Its aim is not to bombard its reader with an endless list of events but rather to provide them with a curated, distilled selection of choice events and new places to visit. Michael McDermott, the Publisher of le cool Dublin described the group’s advice like that of a trusted friend who knows the city.
They also hold pop up tours of Dublin, so far between 60 and 80 in total, whenever they feel it’s time to highlight what’s new about the city.
As part of the Web Summit I had chance to take a tour of the area around Temple Bar in Dublin with McDermott and what he pointed out surprised me. Sometimes, no matter how well you know a city, it’s great to take a moment, really check it out and notice what you’re walking by every day.
Here’s just a selection of interesting spots to take in.
Meeting House Square, Temple Bar:
Home to the Gallery of Photography, The National Photographic Archive and the Ark, the square is also home to a Calatrava designed outdoor stage and cinema screen as well as amazing umbrellas, which cover the square. In a climate like Ireland’s these umbrellas let events such as the weekly Temple Bar Farmers Market, movie nights, music gigs, pop up restaurants and more take place all year round.
I must have walked by these two pieces of street art 20 times in last two months and never noticed them – contemporary art for all to view by two of Ireland’s best known artists.
This piece of work is by Conor Harrington (Sycamore Street, Temple Bar) and shows a cowboy being thrown by a bull. You can can see the cowboy laying face down on the ground. According to McDermott, this was a statement piece by Harrington about the collapse of Ireland’s economy and distrust of those in power.
This is a portrait of the Irish DJ, author, photographer, and musician BP Fallon painted by, probably, Ireland’s most famous street artist, Maser. It’s located on the wall of the Button Factory, on Curved Street, in Temple Bar.
The Wall of Fame:
Located on the side of the Button Factory (Temple Lane South) the Wall of Fame includes Irish musicians of note from a very young photo of U2 and Sinead O’Connor to Luke Kelly, Christy Moore, the Undertones and more.
McDermott pointed out that the wall that most Dubliners fail to look up at is in need of a revamp and suggested that maybe some of the figures could be changed.
Perhaps the Villagers? Or the Gloaming?
Very smartly Blooms Hotel, on Angelsea Street, known for its formally popular nightclub Club M, commissioned the spray paint artist James Earley to wrap the whole hotel in art inspired by James Joyce’s “Ulysses” characters.
The Waldorf Barbers:
Hidden away downstairs, next to the old Bewley’s on Westmoreland Street, this is really a little piece of history. The barbers has been located on the street since the 1929 and has been at its current location since 1941. Still a booming barber shop, it's modeled on a 1920s New York barber shop. Its founder returned home from New York having worked downstairs in the Waldorf Hotel in Manhattan, and obviously his head was turned.
Looking for a hot towel shave and some pampering boys? Look no further.
Harry Clarke Windows:
Right down the back alley next to a TGI Fridays is a rare piece of art – a row of Harry Clarke stained windows. Down Asdill’s Lane in Temple Bar are some amazing windows created by the Irish artist and illustrator Harry Clarke, a leading figure of the Irish Arts and Craft Movement. He died in 1931.
Project Arts Centre:
This theater on Essex Sreet East was once run by the famed director Jim Sheridan and was the site where former manager Paul McGuinness first saw Bono and the boys of U2 play. Often overlooked the theater plays host to some great works and will soon be the home of Panti Bliss’ new show.
Indigo & Cloth:
Also on Essex Street East is Indigo and Cloth – a cafe, clothes shop, design agency and who knows what else. Its style and design are just gorgeous and what’s great is that it’s a young business thriving in the center of Temple Bar.
Try the cakes!
Some other spots in Dublin recommend by le cool:
777, George's Street
Mexican restaurant and tequila cocktail bar.
Izakaya, George's Street
Part of the Yamamori restaurant group this bar, good for a late night giggle, is located in the basement of the original Bewley’s building.
Little Museum of Dublin, Stephen’s Green:
A people's museum of Dublin, it tells the story of Dublin in the 19th century.
Science Gallery, Trinity College:
Located at the bottom of Westland Row, this gallery holds various exhibitions and lectures with a view to science outreach and art-science collaborations.
Gutter Bookshop, Cow’s Lane:
An independent bookshop located in the heart of the city with knowledgeable staff and regular events.
Marsh's Library, Saint Patrick's Close:
The first public library in the city, it dates from 1707. It is a well-preserved library of the late Renaissance and early Enlightenment comprises has a collection of more than 25,000 books and 300 manuscripts.
Sugar Club, Lower Leeson Street:
What was a sugar factory was opened as the Irish Film Theatre in 1963 and in 1999 it was reborn as one of Ireland’s most creative music and entertainment venues.
For more top tips check out dublin.lecool.com.
* Originally published in May 2015.