see + do
Dublin see + do
News of Dublin's renaissance was hard to avoid in the 1990s, when this had to be the trendiest city in Europe, alongside Prague. There were inevitable side effects to the proliferation of boutique hotels, epicurean restaurants, and chic bars (as opposed to the traditional dark, smoky pubs that did not, thankfully, all vanish behind minimalist renovations; only the smoke disappeared). One big drawback was noise: The constant drone of building sites and the raucous cheer of British revelers stalking the craic (an Irish word which can be loosely translated as "having a good time") became facts of life here. The rise of the discount airline (specifically Ryanair) made Dublin the favorite destination for hen weekends—the English equivalent of the bridal shower, which has much in common with a dissolute stag party. But it's all calmed down now. The building boom has slowed, and the hens have moved on.
Temple Bar—the pub-laden night-owl magnet—is still full of life, but it's no longer on the cutting edge of hip. Since smoking was banned in all public workplaces in March 2004, another kind of noise has risen, as bars and restaurants provided outside space for puffers, with a consequent increase in street burble leaking through hotel windows. A decline in restaurant dining and a boom in delis selling prepared food also ensued, though that may prove short-lived. Beyond all the hype and pomp, the once-elegant, then shabby, now gorgeous Georgian Dublin carries on as the backbone of the city, however you slice it. South of the Liffey is the walking tour: 16th-century Trinity College (don't miss seeing the ancient illuminated manuscript the Book of Kells in its library), Grafton Street shopping, Merrion Square, Dublin Castle, and St. Stephen's Green. South of there, leafy Ranelagh is old-meets-new: lattes and Guinness.