Insider Tips

Dublin's Shortcuts: Trinity to Christ Church

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Walking between the landmarks of Trinity College and Christ Church Cathedral can be a simple five-minute journey down Dame Street. But, as Totally Dublin editor Michael McDermott explains, going slightly off-piste will lead you into myriad discoveries which will truly embellish your experience.


Famous haunts

If you head up Westmoreland Street direction, you’ll encounter the Waldorf Barbers, an old-style barbershop which has been trading since 1929. Steeped in tradition, once you descend the stairs it feels like stepping back in time. On terrazzo floors are original chairs and a cornucopia of vintage razors and tools of the trade. After your hot towel massage, ask for a look at their little museum. Around the corner on Fleet Street is The Palace, a Victorian bar and ideal stop for your tipple of choice in a classic Irish pub. Mirrored mahogany partitions divide the bar counter for the intimacy of conversation, while down the back is a room of invisible divisions as people huddle around tables. This was the preferred ‘watering hole’ of many wits and writers, like Patrick Kavanagh and Flann O’Brien.

Dublin's Shortcuts: Trinity to Christ Church
Dublin's Shortcuts: Trinity to Christ Church

Street art

As you walk through the hive of activity that is Temple Bar, we suggest a little trip to Curved Street for a look at the wall facing Filmbase. Up there you’ll see a wall portrait of BP Fallon by celebrated Irish artist Maser. BP is a fascinating character in contemporary Irish culture – a writer, photographer, DJ and musician. He appeared with John Lennon on Top of the Pops, miming the tambourine and bass guitar. He was a publicist for T Rex and iconic Irish rock band, Thin Lizzy. He’s even collaborated with Jack White of the White Stripes.

Love the lanes

From here, stroll into Meeting House Square, a wonderful space which houses many events including a much-loved food market every Saturday. You have the choice of checking out the Gallery of Photography or the National Photographic Archive, and getting your own photo taken at Rory Gallagher corner, a space that recognises one of Ireland’s greatest guitarists. Continuing your journey down Essex Street East will bring you past the Project Arts Centre, a multi-disciplinary hotbed for emerging talent. And if you nip down Crampton Court, you’ll happen upon the delightful Love the Lanes initiative which spruces up the space with innovative plants and installations.

Dublin's Shortcuts: Trinity to Christ Church
Dublin's Shortcuts: Trinity to Christ Church

Chester Beatty Library

This will bring you back onto Dame Street, where you can pop your head into City Hall. Its fabulous rotunda and series of murals date from 1914 and tell the story of the city. Downstairs is a fascinating multi-media ‘Story of the Capital’ exhibition. Within the walls of the adjacent Dublin Castle lies the Chester Beatty Library, home to a treasure trove of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and decorative arts primarily from Asia and Africa. Top tip – check out its roof garden. Emerging on to Castle Street, you’d be remiss not to stroll down the steps of Cows Lane. It plays host to an arts and crafts market on Saturday, and also has a delightful selection of cafés and shops including the bookworm’s dream that is the Gutter Bookshop, run by an affable guy called Bob.

Christ Church Cathedral

You should now wind your way up towards Christ Church via Fishamble Street, which lies at the end of the Temple Bar Culture Quarter. On the corner of Essex Street and Fishamble is No. 26; the oldest house within Dublin’s city walls, dating back to 1720. This street also hosted the first performance of Handel’s Messiah on April 13, 1742 before an audience of approximately 700 people. Finally, step inside epic Christ Church Cathedral, and be amazed by this incredible feat of architecture. The original structure dates back to the 11th century, and was built to overlook the old Viking settlement at Wood Quay. Be sure to also pay a visit to its atmospheric crypt! That’s just one alternative Dublin route that Michael recommends. Check out his other shortcuts; Hugh Lane Gallery to Smithfield and Patrick’s Cathedral to the Natural Museum.

Dublin's Shortcuts: Trinity to Christ Church