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Tracing Irish Ancestry in Dublin

Looking for the names and old address of your great-great-grandparents from County Tipperary? Though each county has its own archive, it’s more sensible to start tracing your Irish ancestry in Dublin at the General Register Office (Joyce House, Lombard St., Research Room, 2nd fl., tel. 01/635-4000, 9:30am-4:30pm Mon.-Fri.), where you can look up your ancestor’s birth, marriage, or death certificate (all of which should list the addresses of the parties involved) no matter which county he or she came from; the records here start at 1864. The fees are nominal, though they can start to add up if you need to broaden your search: €2-4 per request (you can request up to five annual record books at a time), and €4 for a photocopy. Though the archive is always a hive of activity, the staff is willing to answer quick questions and offer search tips.

clouds over the Liffey River in Dublin Ireland
Start your genealogy research in Dublin. Photo © Aitormmfoto/iStock.

You can also check the census records and various databases at the National Archives (Bishop St., tel. 01/407-2300, 10am-5pm Mon.-Fri.). Another good starting point, particularly if you need help planning your search, is the National Library Genealogy Advisory Service (Kildare St., tel. 01/603-0200, 9:30am-5pm Mon.-Wed. and 9:30am-4:45pm Thurs.-Fri., plus 9:30am-12:45pm Sat. Mar.-Oct.). This office has a few databases on offer but is worth a visit mainly for the knowledgeable staff, who will provide you with thorough advice. No appointment is necessary.

The General Register Office in Dublin has birth, marriage, and death records for the Northern Ireland counties as well, but there is additional information available at the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (66 Balmoral Ave., tel. 028/9025-5905, 9am-4:45pm Mon.-Wed. and Fri., 10am-8:45pm Thurs.).

If you don’t have the time to conduct extensive genealogical research, consider hiring a professional. Ask at the National Library office for a list of private researchers; most are based in Dublin.

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3-Day Dublin Itinerary

This three-day Dublin itinerary includes just enough time to hit the highlights (and take an excursion to get a little breather from all the urban hustle and bustle).


View at roof level of Dublin's Christ Church Cathedral.
A view of Christ Church Cathedral from the walkway to the belfry, accessible by guided tour. Photo © Camille DeAngelis.

When you arrive Friday morning, refresh yourself with a stroll through St. Stephen’s Green, pausing for coffee at Kaph or at one of the Powerscourt Townhouse cafés a block off Grafton Street before making your way to Trinity College Dublin and the Book of Kells exhibition. For lunch, you have your pick of fantastic eateries along Dame and South Great Georges Streets; The Bank is perhaps the most atmospheric (and the food is aces), though it may be a little early in the day yet for a cocktail. Pop into the Market Arcade on South Great George’s Street for a browse through the quirky shop stalls.

In the afternoon, sign up for the guided tour at Christ Church Cathedral so you’ll be able to climb up to the belfry and ring one of the bells. If you haven’t run out of steam yet, head to the Chester Beatty Library to view a dazzling collection of manuscripts, engravings, and decorative art pieces from all over the world.

Tonight, buy yourself a pint and settle in for a traditional music session at O’Donoghue’s, Hughes’, or the Stag’s Head.


Stone steps lead up from the crypts in St. Michan's in Dublin.
You’ll never forget a tour of the vaults at creepy St. Michan’s Church. Photo © Camille DeAngelis.

Today, explore Dublin’s Northside. After breakfast, stroll up O’Connell Street to the Garden of Remembrance and learn everything you ever wanted to know about Joyce, Yeats, Wilde, and Synge across the street at the Dublin Writers Museum. Then pass a happy hour a few doors down at the Hugh Lane Gallery, viewing Harry Clarke’s stained-glass scenes from John Keats’s poem The Eve of St. Agnes up close and personal; then check out Francis Bacon’s wildly messy studio to console yourself about the state of your own house!

After lunch at the courtyard café downstairs at the Hugh Lane, take a 15-minute stroll west to St. Michan’s Church to tour the over-the-top spooky crypts—because who wouldn’t want a hardcore spell of memento mori while they’re on holiday? Now you’ll be needing a drink, of course; fortunately the Old Jameson Distillery is right around the corner, and the price of admission includes a shot of whiskey.

Take it easy this evening with dinner at Gallagher’s Boxty House in Temple Bar.


Elaborate chairs in front of a wall of diamond-paned windows inside Malahide castle in Dublin.
Malahide retains the title of oldest inhabited castle. Photo © Camille DeAngelis.

It’s time for an excursion north of the city! Take the DART to Malahide to stroll the grounds of Malahide Castle, popping into the Avoca food hall for gourmet souvenirs and an early lunch before joining the hourlong castle tour.

Back in Dublin proper, spend the rest of your afternoon at either the National Gallery or the National Museum of Archaeology and History (both are centrally located, south of Trinity College between St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square, and are open on Sunday afternoon). For dinner, treat yourself to a meal you’ll remember for decades to come at nearby Restaurant Patrick Guilbaud (but be sure to book well ahead!). Then stop for one last pint at an atmospheric Victorian pub like John Kehoe’s, William Ryan’s, or the Long Hall.

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Gay Dublin: Pride Events and LGBTQ Culture

Ireland has come a long, long way since homosexuality was legalized in 1993. The positive outcome of the republic’s same-sex marriage referendum in November 2015 means that it’s easier than ever to be yourself, and not just in the capital city. Dublin is embracing LGBTQ culture like never before. You’re spoiled for choice entertainment-wise; May is a great time to be here, for the Dublin Gay Theatre Festival (tel. 01/677-8511), when you’ll spot Oscar Wilde’s mug hanging on banners all over town (though the plays put on are mostly contemporary).

gay pride flag in Dublin
Dublin is embracing LGBTQ culture like never before. Photo © orzeczenie/iStock.

Another event worth planning a trip for is the Gay Pride Parade, established in 1992; the parade is the culmination of the Dublin LGBTQ Pride Festival, a two-week event toward the end of June. There’s also the city’s Lesbian and Gay Film Festival, Gaze (6 Eustace St., tel. 01/679-3477), for four days in early August, where international flicks are screened at the Irish Film Institute.

There are a couple all-gay clubs in Dublin: The George is the oldest (89 S. Great Georges St., tel. 01/478-2983), with something fun on every night of the week. Sunday-night bingo (free admission before 10pm) is still a local favorite. Or catch a drag show at PantiBar (7-8 Capel St., tel. 01/874-0710), which is open until 2:30am on Saturdays. Mainstream venues sometimes offer LGBTQ nights, though they don’t tend to last for more than a year or two at a stretch. One hopefully safe bet is Glitz at Dandelion (130-133 St. Stephen’s Green W., tel. 01/476-0870, €5 cover) on Tuesday nights.

As for LGBT-friendly hangouts, try The Front Lounge (33 Parliament St., tel. 01/670-4112) for a quiet drink (unless it’s karaoke night!), or Accents (23 Stephen St. Lower, tel. 01/416-0040) if you’re not in the mood to drink. Either way, you’ll probably want to plan on an afternoon or evening at The Boiler House (12 Crane Ln., tel. 01/677-3130, noon-5am Mon.-Thurs., noon Fri. to 5am Sun., €22), which has jacuzzi, sauna, and steam rooms along with massage treatments, a coffee bar (sans alcohol), and a “play room.” There’s a nightclub here one Saturday a month; check the website for details.

Now on to the practical stuff. Stop by the Outhouse (105 Capel St., Northside, tel. 01/873-4999), the city’s most established resource center, and peruse the notice boards before having lunch at the café (1pm-9:30pm Mon.-Fri., 1pm-5:30pm Sat.). The Gay Switchboard Dublin (tel. 01/872-1055) also provides advice and information. Gay Dublin is a decent source of entertainment info, and better yet is the nationwide Gay Ireland.

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Ireland has come a long, long way since homosexuality was legalized in 1993. The positive outcome of the republic’s same-sex marriage referendum in November 2015 means that it’s easier than ever to be yourself, and not just in the capital city. Dive into Irish LGBTQ culture with these pride events and gay-friendly establishments.

Parks & Rec: Dublin Edition

Autumn leaves scatter the grass as visitors walk down a nicely paved path in the park.
Visitors stroll through St. Stephen’s Green in City Centre. Photo © bjaglin, licensed Creative Commons Attribution.

Dublin has more green spaces per square kilometer than any other European capital city. There are 1,500 hectares (3,700 acres) of parks, 3 hectares (7.3 acres) of public green space per 1,000 people, and 5,000 trees are planted annually. The main parks are the Phoenix Park just west of the city center, near Castleknock; St. Stephen’s Green at the top of Grafton Street; and Herbert Park in Ballsbridge, in Dublin’s south side.

The Phoenix Park is the largest enclosed urban park in Europe, encompassing 712 hectares (1,760 acres). This park offers large, grassy areas and treelined avenues, and features a herd of wild fallow deer. Áras an Uachtaráin, the residence of the President of Ireland, is located in this park, as is the Dublin Zoo, the residence of the U.S. Ambassador, and Ashtown Castle. Every summer the park hosts various concerts and festivals.

Herbert Park is tiny in comparison, just 13 hectares (32 acres), but it provides a good example of Dublin’s smaller city parks, offering a variety of amenities. The park includes sites for football, tennis, boules, and croquet, and a children’s playground was added in 2007.

St. Stephen’s Green is adjacent to a shopping center and is surrounded by offices, flats, and government buildings. The park, spanning 9 hectares (22 acres), is roughly rectangular in shape and features an artificial pond and waterfall that is home to ducks, a garden circle with wide expanses of green grass, and, most notably, a garden for the blind featuring scented plants that are labeled in Braille.

Excerpted from the Second Edition of Moon Living Abroad in Ireland.

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