Insider Tips

Dublin's Shortcuts: St Patrick's Cathedral to Natural History Museum

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St Patrick’s Cathedral and the Natural History Museum are beloved Dublin landmarks, and on the ‘to do’ list of many visitors. Here, Totally Dublin editor Michael McDermott offers up an alternative route from one to the other, encompassing a stroll into the vibrant Camden Street quarter and over towards Merrion Square.


Hidden foodie haven

Moving away from the Cathedral down Patrick St and onto Patrick’s Close, you’ll find our first alternative route stop, Assassination Custard. This tiny ten-seater café is truly worth discovering. Run by a most welcoming couple, Ken and Gwen, its homely style is married to an adventurous menu. Expect anything from chopped goat kidney to labneh, anchovy and sumac. This is the inside track and value for money destination for true foodies. Plus, your shared table is likely to lead to new friends by the end of your meal.

Dublin's Shortcuts: St Patrick's Cathedral to Natural History Museum
Dublin's Shortcuts: St Patrick's Cathedral to Natural History Museum

Living history

St Kevin’s Park on Camden Row is often overlooked given its rather small scale, but it benefits from this status too. Located in a churchyard, it’s a leafy sanctuary and if you’re content with sharing space with some toppled gravestones, then as we say locally ‘you’ll be grand’. Nip down the alleyway at the back of live music venue Whelan’s for a flavour of the street art scene. The shrine to St Valentine in the Whitefriar Street Church on Aungier Street is another quirk in the city. It’s exactly as described, a place where love lingers forever. The shrine contains the relics of the saint along with petitions and inscriptions that will both break hearts and make them soar.

Drums and a dram

Another truly iconic location is Ireland’s oldest music shop, Charles Byrne Music, run by Charles and Maria (both in their 80s) and their daughter Geraldine. Specialising in stringed and traditional instruments, they cater to every musical taste, including the most recent Ukulele craze. The whiskey boom is unabated with distilleries cropping up all over the city (Teeling and Roe & Co), and L Mulligans have created the perfect home to check out a widespread batch of offerings. And what better accompaniment than a fine cigar from the aptly named Decent Cigar Emporium on Grafton Street?

Dublin's Shortcuts: St Patrick's Cathedral to Natural History Museum
Dublin's Shortcuts: St Patrick's Cathedral to Natural History Museum

Vibrant streets 

Grafton Street is also the home of a variety of busking talents, and none more so than Allie Sherlock, who at the tender age of 12 has become a ‘viral’ sensation owing to her weekend performances on the street. If you head from the St Stephen’s Green side of Grafton Street along the Green, do make sure to cast your eye in on the Huguenot Cemetery beside the famous Shelbourne Hotel. Whilst not open to the public, a glance in at this space dating from 1693 is highly recommended.

The dead zoo

Finally, taking a turn onto Merrion Square will lead you past Government Buildings to the Natural History Museum, which is locally known as the Dead Zoo. With over 10,000 exhibits, its cabinet style offers insights into a natural world of a bygone era of zoological delights. We sincerely hope your efforts from this little wondrous trek doesn’t make you fit to join it.  Now that you’ve experienced what this part of the city has to offer in terms of hidden gems, why not continue exploring? Michael has written alternative routes for Trinity College to Christ Church Cathedral, and Hugh Lane Gallery to Smithfield.

Dublin's Shortcuts: St Patrick's Cathedral to Natural History Museum