Dublin’s Cultural Hotspots
Despite its size, Dublin is culturally diversE, with every part of the city offering something different. What you’ll find in each of Dublin’s cultural areas is unique - from art and antiques on Francis St to film and design in Temple Bar, here’s our guide to Dublin’s Cultural hotspots.
Francis St: Art + Antiques
Fittingly located between the shadows of Christchurch and St Patrick's Cathedral lies Dublin city’s art and antiques hotspot. Running the length and breadth of Francis St, this area is one of the oldest in Dublin, and many of the shops and galleries here are family-run institutions that have been thriving in the area for generations.
Although traditional in its appearance, this area is in no way stagnant as it attracts a steady stream of young artists, designers and makers from the nearby National College of Art and Design. This mix of influences and aesthetics is played out on the myriad shop fronts and art spaces which line the street. Contemporary art galleries and spaces like Pallas Studios, South Studios and the NCAD Gallery rub shoulders with the likes of the Iveagh Gallery, which houses a collection of 19th and 20th Century paintings and sculptures.
Pallas Studios offer affordable studio and gallery spaces to upcoming Irish artists, and there’s always something new and unique to see here. Similarly, South Studios is home to a new generation of creative thinkers and doers, this collaborative project is currently home to the ethical fashion initiative Re-Dress, interior design team DesignGoat and Dublin’s weekly culture and events guide, Le Cool.
Just around the corner from South Studios you’ll find the Dublin Food Co-Op, which hosts an array of Sunday markets. This venue is the home to Pure Vintage; Ireland’s only dedicated monthly vintage fair, The Brocante Market; a treasure trove of second-hand and vintage furniture, and the Dublin Flea Market; where you’ll find a host of curious collectibles and oddities.
Temple Bar: Film + Design
A favourite for tourists visiting the city, Temple Bar has much more to offer than the obvious bunting-clad, Enya-pumping pubs and gift shops that appear on every corner. These cobbled streets are also home to Dublin’s contemporary art community.
A must-visit for film buffs, Temple Bar is home to the IFI: Irish Film Institute. Housed in an 18th Century Quaker Meeting House, the IFI consists of an independent cinema, the national film archive, a specialist shop and a restaurant. Intent on promoting the best independent Irish and international film, the IFI frequently hosts film festivals, talks and events centered on all things celluloid. Just across from the IFI is FilmBase, a non-profit resource centre for filmmakers, and headquarters of the Jameson Dublin International Film Festival. If static pictures are more your bag, Temple Bar is also home to the National Photographic Archive and Gallery which houses over 5.2 million photographs with collections ranging from the historical to the contemporary.
You don’t have to wander far from the film hub of Meeting House Square to find Temple Bar’s other artistic offerings. The Temple Bar Gallery and Studios and the nearby Project Arts Centre are home to artists’ studios, galleries and exhibition spaces that work together with the Irish artistic community to foster and showcase the best of contemporary Irish art.
If you’re interested in graphic and interior design, we recommend you take a stroll through Cow’s Lane and its surrounding side streets. Cow’s Lane Designer Studio is a treasure-trove of handmade Irish art and design that sits opposite Industry - an independent homewares store with a focus on quality classical design. At the weekend these cobbled streets come alive with the arrival of the Cow’s Lane Designer Mart - an outdoor market specialising in Irish designed handicrafts and jewellery.
Merrion Square: Museums + Galleries
Established in 1953, The National Art Gallery is home to the Irish National Collection of Irish and European Art. The collection is comprised of over 14,000 pieces of art including oil paintings, drawings, prints and sculptures. Highlights of the collection include Caravaggio’s masterpiece ‘The Taking of Christ’ and the Yeats Collection, featuring works of the celebrated Irish artist Jack B. Yeats, and just around the corner from the National Art Gallery the main building of the National Library is home to an exhibition on the life and works of his brother - William Butler Yeats. The most intriguing of the Dublin’s National Museums is the Natural History Museum - known locally as ‘The Dead Zoo’. This cabinet-style museum has changed little since Victorian times and the collection of animal specimens it houses is unique in both its range and vintage. The spirit of scientific investigation is alive and well at Pearse Street’s Science Gallery, an enterprise so unique that it will be opening new Science Galleries across Europe in the coming years thanks to funding from Google.
This Georgian area also offers visitors far more modern delights with the Douglas Hyde, Green on Red, Royal Hibernian Academy, and the Doorway Galleries all offering visitors a chance to experience an eclectic mix of major international and emerging Irish contemporary art. The National Print Museum, which is currently housed in the historic Beggars Bush Barracks, celebrates Irish printing craft past and present and frequently holds practical workshops where visitors can try their hand at crafts like silk painting, letter pressing and linocut printing. So, if you want to gawk at a Caravaggio, or get your hands dirty creating your own piece of art, you simply have to check out the Merrion Square area.
Smithfield + Stoneybatter: Arts + Crafts
Centered around the newly-developed market square, Smithfield is home to a whole host of independent businesses and organisations. One of the most interesting additions to the square is The Lighthouse Cinema - a specialist, independent arthouse cinema committed to showcasing the best Irish and international films. Keep an eye on their schedule as they also frequently host film festivals, special events and premieres. A few doors down from The Lighthouse is Block T, an award-winning non-profit creative organisation that provides studio space and dark room facilities to artists, as well as hosting workshops and events covering a wide range of artistic practices.
Just a stone’s throw from Smithfield is Stoneybatter; another hub of craftsmanship and creativity in the city. Currently home to a screen-printing workshop, gallery spaces, an independent publishing house/bookshop, a lithograph workshop and a recording studio - independent, spirit, craft and creativity are central to the vibrant community here. Spaces like The Joinery and the Stoneybatter Guild are great places to visit and see craftsmanship in action, as they provide gallery, studio and shop spaces to a mix of up-and-coming and established artists and crafters. Both these venues frequently host workshops where you can try your hand at anything from screen-printing to photography and illustration.
Check out our guide to Dublin’s Design Shops to learn about Dublin’s new breed of cultural and creative craft shops.