Book Review: Dublin City Guide

Kerry Dexter's picture

Almost every traveler to Ireland spends some time in Dublin -- for many, it’s the highlight of their trip. You could, of course, spend several centuries exploring a city which is filled with layers and levels of history, as well as being a center for European youth culture and the largest city in Ireland. Dublin native Fionn Davenport’s own voice, which has a trace of edge and bit of snark now and then, comes through as he navigates the city and the standard -- and usually quite useful -- format of Lonely Planet city guides. Davenport’s love for Dublin and his knowledge of it come through as well on a journey that begins with a section of photographs along with page references to articles about the places shown. This offers highlights on a range things -- musical experiences, sports, arts, architecture, markets, and the like. As a longtime Dublin visitor, I wouldn’t agree with all his choices, but he definitely offers a fair start and several not to be missed suggestions, which is the intent of the section, after all.


There is a very short section on background, taking about a dozen pages to give Davenport's take on the highlights of Dublin’s history, architecture, language, arts, and other such broad topics. If you like his slightly snarky style, have at it. If not, save your background reading for other places.


An introduction to Dublin’s varied neighborhoods is next, focusing naturally on those closest to city center. From Grafton Street to Temple Bar to Docklands and beyond, it’s a good conversational trek through the highlights of these areas with loads of facts and practical information well balanced by narrative in which Davenport's individual style livens up things.


Shopping, eating, drinking,, and places to stay all come in for their own hefty sections, each organized by neighborhood, and there are sections on sports and recreation and nightlife and the arts in which the suggestions and information are arranged by type of activity -- comedy, live, music, health and fitness, spectator sports for example -- rather than area. Good to know on the section on accommodation: while many guidebooks focus on only one sort of lodging, what's’ offered here is a few well described suggestions including places to stay in all budgets from hostel to high end luxury. The same is true in general of the eating section, although it tends to be a bit more middle to high end on price -- perhaps a reflection of the fact that your best bet for a budget meal in Dublin is usually a picnic from a takeaway or grocers. A range of suggestions is presented in each section, in any case. They are not comprehensive, nor are they meant to be, but they do offer good places to check out and good jumping off points for your own explorations as well. The neighborhood and area maps included in the chapters, which appear to be sections taken from the larger pull out map also included, are quite useful as well. They are also easier to use on the street (and less conspicuous) than the pull out map itself.


There is  a section on day trips from Dublin, comprising about half a dozen excursions north and south, most well known and few off the beaten path, and with on occasional off the beaten path suggestions for exploring well known destinations. The book concludes, as many Lonely Planet guides do, with a handily organized section on transport, and a directory of practical short subjects on things such as changing money, medical services, organized tours, and the like There’s also a page called Greendex, which notes establishments listed in the book which are especially noted for working to run their businesses with regard to sustainability and ecologically friendly practices.


Dublin City Guide
by Fionn Davenport
Lonely Planet





Kerry Dexter is Music Editor for Wandering Educators. You may reach her at music at wanderingeducators dot com

You may find more about Kerry’s work on music and Ireland at Music Road. Her work also appears in Journey to Scotland, Perceptive Travel, Strings, and other places online and in print.