Dublin: A Walking Tour to the General Post Office and a Stop for a Pint

From Kells to the Celt

A tribute to Irish liberator Daniel O'Connell in Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

A tribute to Irish liberator Daniel O’Connell in Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Take a Dublin walking tour: An easy stroll from a visit to the Book of Kells at Trinity College in Dublin will take you from the university campus across the River Liffey, preferably via the O’Connell Bridge. (If you would like to take a more scenic route, go over the Talbot Memorial Bridge and view the Famine Memorial and the Custom House before making your way up to O’Connell Street.)

Fast food in Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Fast food in Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

From O’Connell Street, a visitor will get a glimpse of high and low, starting with the fast-food joints that buttress the O’Connell Monument. The monument, with winged figures—standing for courage, eloquence, fidelity, and patriotism—is topped with a likeness of ‘Liberator’ Daniel O’Connell. Born in County Kerry in 1775, he was in college in France when that country’s revolution took place. He headed to London to study law before returning to Ireland.

With others, O’Connell founded the Catholic Association and helped gain passage of the Catholic Emancipation Act in 1829, which allowed Catholics (he was one) to hold seats in the British Parliament. In 1841, he became the mayor of Dublin. In later years, O’Connell was arrested for seditious conspiracy after advocating for the repeal of the merger of the parliaments of Great Britain and Ireland and was imprisoned for several months in 1844. His health suffered from his imprisonment, and he died in Genoa, Italy in 1847 while on a pilgrimage to Rome.

Pick up a new or used book on Irish history to add depth to your walking tour. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Pick up a new or used book on Irish history to add depth to your walking tour. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Getting the sense that Irish history is complicated? Keep walking from the O’Connell Memorial on O’Connell Street toward the City Spire, that big, tall, needle-like thing that is hard to avoid. In case you did not pick up enough books in the gift shop following a visit to the Book of Kells, duck into Book Bargains on Abbey Street Middle. On my visit to this used-and-new bookstore, I pick up Brian J. Showers’s Literary Walking Tours of Gothic Dublin and David Slattery’s Poet, Madman, Scoundrel: 189 Unusual Irish Lives.

Statue of William Smith O’Brien, Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Statue of William Smith O’Brien, Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Otherwise, stroll further down O’Connell Street and take in the statue of William Smith O’Brien, a contemporary of O’Connell. Smith O’Brien, born in 1803, was deported to Tasmania in Australia for his participation in the Young Irelander Rebellion of 1848. Released in 1854, he was pardoned two years later and returned to Ireland. He died in Wales in 1864.

Then move on to the General Post Office, which is not just an impressive post office but also one that plays a direct part in Ireland’s history. The Proclamation of Independence was read on its steps here during the Easter Rising of 1916. Apparently, that announcement of independence did not go over so well, as proven by the bullet marks on the building’s exterior. An exhibit about the events of 1916 is on the right when you enter. The building remains a working post office.

Not just any post office, the Dublin General Post Office played an important role in Irish independence. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Not just any post office, the Dublin General Post Office played an important role in Irish independence. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

In addition to being a working post office, the Dublin General Post Office also features an exhibit on the Easter Rising of 1916. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

In addition to being a working post office, the Dublin General Post Office also features an exhibit on the Easter Rising of 1916. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

From there, keep walking to the 120-meter-tall stainless steel Dublin Spire, erected in the early aughts. Form your own opinions of its value as an attraction or its meaning as a piece of art.

A statue of author James Joyce in Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

A statue of author James Joyce in Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Next, turn briefly down Earl Street North and take in the James Joyce statue while testing your literary knowledge. Which of his works have you read? Seen the movie version of? I like The Dead starring Anjelica Huston.

Saint Mary's Pro Cathedral in Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral in Dublin. Compare its exterior to that of the General Post Office. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

As time allows, double back to O’Connell Street and head one more block north toward Cathedral Street. Take a right onto Cathedral and visit St. Mary’s Pro Cathedral at the corner of Cathedral and Marlborough. It’s a Catholic church the history of which seems, at least to this novice, in some measure to mirror the history of Ireland itself, although the current building only dates to 1825.

Inside Saint Mary's Pro Cathedral, Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Inside Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral, Dublin. Photo credit: M. Ciavardini

Take in the sculpture called the Wishing Hand by artist Linda Brunker. It is found on Marlborough Street in Dublin at the Department of Education property across from Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

Take in the sculpture called the Wishing Hand by artist Linda Brunker. It is found on Marlborough Street in Dublin at the Department of Education property across from Saint Mary’s Pro Cathedral.

Afterward, head south on Marlborough Street until you get to Talbot. Turning left, head toward either Le Bon Crubeen for dinner or to the Celt, next door, for a pint and some music.

General Post Office, O’Connell Street, Dublin

Saint Mary’s Pro-Cathedral, Corner of Cathedral and Marlborough Streets, Dublin

Le Bon Crubeen, 81-82 Talbot Street, Dublin 1

The Celt, 81-82 Talbot Street, Dublin 1

—Lori Tripoli

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