During a recent visit to the United Kingdom I brought up The Dublin Horse Show with a group of people and was shocked to discover that most of them had never heard of it. I assumed it had the same notoriety as the likes of The Cheltenham Festival or The Antree Grand National. It inspired me to take a step back and look at Dublin through the eyes of a stranger. What would I love to see again for the first time?
1. The Dublin Horse Show
What blew me away about the Dublin Horse Show on my first visit was the atmosphere of joy in the air. I was walking towards the RDS with a friend and everyone was immaculately dressed and there was a big smile on every face. It was not like the anticipation you feel before a normal sporting event of anticipating the spectacle and competition. At The Dublin Horse Show there is a feeling that the people are just as much the event as the horses. It is the smiles, the conversations as well as the wonderful show jumping which truly makes this a unique Dublin event.
2. Deer Park Summit, Howth
Nothing prepared me for the view of Dublin Bay after I reached the summit behind Deer Park Golf Club. But half the adventure was in reaching the summit as it is secluded and hidden behind the golf course. I did not think it could be accessed until a fellow Dubliner told me about this secret gem. If I was a tourist in Dublin this would be my first port of call.
3. The Yeats Exhibition, The National Library of Ireland
When I first heard of the W.B Yeats Exhibition and how these ancient masterpieces were presented using modern technology, I was skeptical to say the least. But the exhibition blew me away. It brought Yeats’ background and up-bringing to life and made his works more accessible to a wider audience.
4. Arbor Hill Cemetery
Here lies a true piece of Irish history and and a true hidden gem in the nation’s capital. This is truly for the history buff as both British and Irish military personnel are buried here and the fact that it is located beside a prison adds to the adventure.
5. Blessington Basin, The Secret Garden
It is entirely possible that this hidden garden provided Frances Burnett with the inspiration for her classic children’s book, The Secret Garden, it certainly moved me. It is rare to find such a tranquil and picturesque place in the middle of a capital city, yet this is exactly what the Blessington Basin provides.
6. The Viking Theatre
No this is not just another Dublin pub, it is a theatre located in a Dublin pub. I was truly shocked when I discovered this theatre as I grew up in this area and had even been in this pub! This is for those who love amateur and engaging theater or just for those seeking something out of the norm and a truly unforgettable experience.
7. The Sporting Emporium Casino
This is literally a hidden Dublin attraction as it is located down a lane-way in the south of the city centre. It is not quite Vegas but the atmosphere is always exciting and everyone there including the staff are friendly.
8. The Seamus Ennis Cultural Centre
I am unsure which word best describes this Dublin attraction, perhaps museum, restaurant or even homage. All three of these terms could be used. This building is a tribute to the famed Irish musician Seamus Ennis, it is a traditional Irish house that serves excellent traditional Irish food. Why go to a boring everyday restaurant when visiting Dublin, when you could come here.
9. Punchestown Race Course
Yes horses have made the list for the second time. Horse racing and show jumping form a huge part of Irish sporting culture and no place is this more evident than in the faces of the excited fans at the Punchestown Race Course. There are at least two events each month with the summer events being the most exciting.
10. The Padraig Pearce Museum
Pearce is believed by some to be the founder of the Irish Republic we know today. For any history buff or even sociologist the works and beliefs of Padraig Pearce are worth analysing. The grounds of the museum are magnificent and always peaceful.
If you have visited Dublin or are a native (born bred and buttered as the Dubs say) please let us know your own secret Dublin gems.