Our Editor-at-Large, Jeff Mills, reminisces regarding Dublin.
Ireland is part of the ‘Common Travel Zone’ and as things stand adults who are double vaccinated can come and go at their will. If your prospective UK destination is fully booked up Dublin is ready to welcome you.
"Ireland is part of the ‘Common Travel Zone’ and as things stand adults who are double vaccinated can come and go at their will. If your prospective UK destination is fully booked up Dublin is ready to welcome you.
Given Dublin’s outstanding historic buildings, excellent restaurants and seemingly limitless bars, there’s a lot to be said for a trip to the city, whether on business or simply, perhaps, for a long weekend of pleasure. There are few cities where you can so seamlessly marry work and play as you can here.
Ireland’s capital city may well be an important commercial centre and the Irish headquarters of some major companies but the ‘craic’ (fun-plus), so loved by the locals is never far away. There are plenty of business meetings which end up in an atmospheric bar late in the evening, or indeed into the early hours.
One of the most convenient things about this city is that almost everything worth seeing is within walking distance of the major hotel area, so a quick stroll to your business meeting may well take you across St Stephen’s Green, where the railings display works by aspiring artists, past St Patrick’s Cathedral, where Handel’s Messiah was first performed in public, or through Trinity College.
Then there’s the pedestrian part of Grafton Street, with all its street entertainers, ranging from human statues and limbo dancers to fiddlers attempting, with varying success, well known classical music.
And across the River Liffey there’s O’Connell Street with the General Post Office, where you can still see the bullet scarring from the 1916 uprising.
When it comes to doing business in Dublin things are pretty similar to other major European cities, though you may get a sense that timing is rather more flexible than that you may be used to. Business suits are usual at meetings, though many will shed their jackets and ties, as the working day merges into after-work entertainment time.
Business hours are generally Monday-Friday 09:00 to 17:30, sometimes later. But it’s a well-known fact that the Irish are particularly friendly and welcoming to visitors, so don’t be surprised if your social life goes off the scale.
Though meetings usually take place in offices or hotels, don’t be too surprised if your contacts suggest meeting for a drink in one of the pubs at lunchtime. Working lunches and dinners are quite common and often go on quite late.
When it comes to selecting where to stay you are spoiled for choice, with plenty of hotels at virtually all prices. The Westin Dublin, located in a former bank building, right by College Green on Westmoreland Street, has to be one of the top choices for visiting business travellers. It’s just across the road from Trinity College and right in the heart of the business area.
Alternatively opt for The Merrion, a very smart hotel converted from three Georgian townhouses in one of the smartest parts of Dublin, the perfect choice if you want to be right in the city centre and at the heart of all the action. Not only is the building itself very beautiful, there’s even one of the biggest private art collections in Ireland. Each room is very different from the next but if you can, choose one in the old part of the hotel. But there are plenty of less expensive options, too.
If you’re on the lookout for somewhere to take your contacts for after-work drinks head for Temple Bar where the cultural centres which draw the crowds during the day give way to not one but dozens of vibrant bars and restaurants, acting as a magnet to business travellers and others looking for a good night out.
If you fancy mixing with the younger crowd head for the Church Gallery in the heart of Dublin’s central district, a series of bars and restaurants in a restored early 18th century Church spread over four levels, which still has many original features, including an organ and spectacular stained-glass window.
But there’s no shortage of other great restaurants to choose from. Mingle with Dublin’s super-cool crowd at the Pearl Brasserie, close to the green open spaces of Merrion Square Park and St Stephen’s Green, where there’s a mix of Parisian sophistication, with a dash of New York style. Take a seat in one of the brown leather armchairs while you study the menu.
And when it comes to sightseeing there are plenty of options if you find yourself with some time off during your trip, or indeed if leisure is the purpose of your visit. If you have plenty of time visit Trinity College and the Book of Kells, a 9th century illuminated manuscript.
But be prepared to join the scrum of visitors and queue for ages if you really want a proper look. And don’t miss the adjacent Long Room, with its fascinating exhibition of historic volumes.
And head for the Dublin Writers’ Museum, in Parnell Square (which has been closed due to Covid), with letters, notes and personal items from the likes of Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and many others.
For culture of a different kind pop over to the Guinness Storehouse, where you can take a tour and sample the product. They say it never tastes as good as it does in Dublin.
There are good shops all over Dublin, not least in Grafton Street and O’Connell Street, though it has to be said there’s little difference between prices here and those in the UK, indeed many of the stores’ names will be familiar. If you’re looking for a souvenir to bring home the best is probably a bottle of Irish whiskey or a whiskey-based liqueur.
How to get to the "Fair City"?
You can fly from the UK to Dublin with a number of airlines including British Airways, Aer Lingus and Ryanair.
The best way to get around is by taxis, which are reasonably priced. The journey from the airport to the city centre, for example, takes only about 15 minutes. A state-of-the-art light rail transit system, LUAS, operates between the city’s two main stations and to a number of suburbs in case you do have to travel out of town.