Many of Dublin’s best-known sights and attractions are located right here in The Liberties – the historic heart of Dublin. You can explore the vestiges of the old medieval city around High Street: the beautiful cathedral of Christ Church Cathedral founded in 1030, the medieval church of St Audoen’s with its connections to the city’s guilds and remaining sections of Dublin’s old city walls in the adjoining park.
Going west, you walk down historic Thomas Street – one of the city’s oldest thoroughfares – with its merchant buildings, elegant churches, former distilleries and the iconic St James’s Gate Brewery. You can immerse yourself in tales of Dublin at The Vaults, a new actor-led attraction located on John’s Lane. The National College of Art & Design alongside used to be the famous Powers Distillery – spot the ‘P’ logo on the impressive corner building.
Heading west, you’re on your way to the Guinness Storehouse topped by its spectacular Gravity Bar offering views all over the city. Nearby you’ll find the new Pearse Lyons Distillery. Housed in a former church, it now features the Liberties Lantern, an iconic glass spire, and the Distillery tells the fascinating story of whiskey in this area of the city and some of the notables buried in its adjoining graveyard. The catholic church of St James opposite is a stop on the world-famous Camino (don’t forget to stamp your Camino passport!). From here it’s only a short walk to Kilmainham Gaol Museum and the Irish Museum of Modern Art, housed in the renaissance elegance of the Royal Hospital.
South of Thomas Street, take a wander down Francis Street, Dublin’s Art & Antiques Quarter, with its quirky antique shops and galleries. Wind around to St Patrick’s Cathedral, whose 19th century restoration was paid for by the renowned Guinness family. The beautiful park alongside is the perfect resting point to visit on a sunny day, while the wonderful Marsh’s Library nearby holds a treasure trove of ancient books and manuscripts – its Dublin’s oldest public library!
Also south of Francis Street, across The Coombe lies Newmarket and the Blackpitts, an area fast regenerating as a centre of craft food and drink in Dublin. The Teeling Whiskey Distillery on the square was the first new working distillery in the city for over 100 years, while its new neighbour – Dublin Liberties Distillery – includes a stylish cocktail lounge. Newmarket also boasts regular food and craft markets and is set to become a major public space for the city in coming years.
Market-life also dominates nearby Meath Street: its rough and ready, but for many its the soul of Dublin. Drop into its beautiful local church – St Catherine’s – and relax in the calm grotto garden to the rear. And then hit the earthy delights of The Liberty Market in search of a bargain. The street includes plenty of great pubs and cafes to revive yourself.
There’s so much to discover and enjoy in the historic heart of Dublin!