Pubs and more in Dublin


I thought I’d pass along some tips and information about Dublin. I’m a frequent traveler to both London (Aug.’06, pg. 19) and Dublin, most recently visiting in December ’05-January ’06.

I flew from London to Dublin via the growing discount airline, Ryanair (www.ryanair.com). By booking far in advance, I was able to take advantage of one of the company’s frequent sales: in this case, just £1 for airfare plus taxes and fees for a rock-bottom total of £17 (less than $32!). A tip — visit the website and get on their e-mail list for notice of such sales. In fact, check Ryanair first for any cities in Europe.

After claiming your luggage in Dublin, take the express bus for €5 (near $6.40) directly to the main bus station. Conveniently, the station is only a few hundred yards from what I consider a 4-star B&B, the best I’ve visited in Dublin: the Townhouse of Dublin (47 Lower Gardiner St.; tel. 011-353-1-878-8808 or visit www.townhouseofdublin.com).

The comfortably appointed rooms, with facilities en suite, each include such niceties as a decent-sized cable TV, a hair dryer and tea/coffee-making gear. A single at only €60 ($77) is a bargain for such accommodations. Best of all, the price includes an all-you-can-eat buffet breakfast. Highly recommended on all counts, The Townhouse is most popular, especially on weekends when the city is packed, so book well in advance.

Just around the corner, on Talbot Street, you’ll find the Celtic Lodge, a traditional pub with live music. I had the treat of hearing one of the original Irish Tenors do a free show here — sort of working out his vocal cords — all for the price of a pint of Guinness (€5).

Turning left out of the Celtic back onto Talbot Street and heading toward O’Connell Street, look for The Italian Connection restaurant a couple of hundred yards’ walk on the left. The food is consistently good; the pizzas are great. Daily lunch specials run €12-€15 ($15.40-$19).

Keep walking on Talbot, and upstairs at No. 101 you’ll find the cleverly named 101 Talbot Restaurant. It has been well reviewed and features innovative gourmet meals that are priced slightly higher than other neighborhood restaurants but well worth it.

The average entrée on the à la carte menu runs €15-€20. The best bet — ask for the “Value Menu” with starter, main course and coffee or tea for €21.50 ($27.60). 101 Talbot is very popular in the evening and for preshow dinners (the famed Abbey Theatre is just around the corner), so book ahead.

Close by is The Confessional pub, which the friendly owner, Paul Davidson, swears is the smallest bar in Dublin. It’s a great place to stop for a pint, and if you happen to mention you heard about it in ITN, he just may treat you to another. To find it, cross Talbot Street from 101 Talbot and turn left, then take a right on Marlborough Street and there it is.

Up by St. Stephen’s Green (take a left at the top of the main shopping area, Grafton Street), you’ll come across another famous pub, the Dublin landmark Donehy & Nesbit (4-5 Lower Baggot St.). A public house since 1840, it is not at all like some of the trendy “plastic pubs” in the Temple Bar area on the Liffey River, where Dublin’s nightlife thrives.

After crossing the Liffey River, heading back to The Townhouse, take the first right onto Eden Quay for the Clifton Court Hotel (11 Eden Quay), which serves excellent food at reasonable prices. Their 4-course, calorie-filled Sunday lunch, for example, is €19.50 ($25), plus there’s live music Friday through Sunday nights.

From there, just keep walking up Eden Quay and you’ll run into Lower Gardiner Street; take a left and you’re “home” at The Townhouse.

But what if things are especially busy in Dublin and The Townhouse is booked? Try O’Shea’s hotel (19 Talbot St.; call 011-353-1-836-5670, fax 9110353-1-836-5214o or e-mail osheashotel@eircom.net), just across the road and on the corner. Single rooms are €50 ($64), the food in the dining room is filling and fine, and along with live music nightly there are plenty of big-screen “plasma” TVs for all the football (soccer) aficionados.

If all else fails, there are many B&Bs of varying quality within a few minutes’ walk of O’Shea’s. If they are booked, the folks at The Townhouse or O’Shea’s can certainly point you in the right direction. But I can’t emphasize enough how crowded Dublin can be on a weekend or “bank holiday,” so reserve as far in advance as possible; I suggest four to six weeks.

Now then, have fun exploring Dublin and making your own discoveries!

JACK CARROLL
New York, NY