The Bank of Ireland

Ordinarily, it might be thought a little unusual to recommend to any visitor to the Republic of Ireland a sightseeing tour of a branch of the Bank of Ireland. However, this is Dublin, where the rest of the world’s rules clearly do not apply.

Situated on a three-sided “square” in the heart of the city, the breathtaking Bank of Ireland on College Green was originally built as the Irish Parliament House in the 18th Century. The monumental stone façade features rows of gigantic columns seemingly designed to leave ordinary citizens feeling awestruck. It’s one of Dublin’s must-see landmarks that you can actually go inside and visit.

While the building is a working bank, with counters in what was once the House of Commons, there are also guided tours that helpfully point out the glories of the ceilings, huge tapestries, crystal chandeliers and rich oak panelling.

It’s incredible to think that the modern-day Bank of Ireland was the world’s first parliament building that was built for the purpose of national government. That means the House of Lords and House of Commons here in Dublin predate those of the Houses of Parliament in London.

The design of the building was also influential in that its façade instantly recalls that of the British Museum, which was later based on its colonnaded look. In America, its design was copied for the original House of Representatives in Washington DC.

After learning about the building’s role in Ireland’s economic history, there’s nowhere more fitting to have a drink and a meal than at the nearby Bank on College Green restaurant.

Explore More of Dublin

Old Jameson Distillery

Dublin is home to two drink brands that have spread their marque, and made their mark, all over the world. And both are keen to share their heritage, induct you into the mysteries of their production and ply you with their wares on guided tours. There’s the Guinness Storehouse where the black stuff is promoted and there’s Smithfield’s Old Jameson Distillery where the rather more potent stuff is celebrated.

The O2

Once you’ve attended a concert at Dublin’s superb O2, there’s no going back to theatre-style venues where the seating is arranged in regular rows. The audience and artist friendly design of the O2 amphitheatre is often likened to that of Rome’s Coliseum, with blocks of seats emanating out like a great fan from the impressive stage.

Aviva Stadium

If you’re heading to Dublin for a rugby or football match at the Aviva Stadium, then you’re in for a real treat. Situated just south of Dublin’s bustling city centre, the Aviva Stadium is a state-of-the-art, four-tiered sports stadium and concert venue, located on the rushing River Dodder not far from Ireland’s east coast.

Grange Golf Club

Ireland is renowned around the world for its incredible golf courses, and they don’t come much better than the Grange Golf Club. This amazing course is located just 15 minutes from the centre of Dublin. Lying in the foothills of the Dublin Mountains, there are incredible views and a tranquillity that’s hard to imagine so close to a major urban area.

Clontarf Castle

Head to the centre of Dublin for a hint of the town’s historic past at the picturesque Clontarf Castle. Built in the 1830s, this stoic Georgian country house stands on the site of a much older building. In fact, the history of the area dates all the way back to the 11th Century, when the original medieval Clontarf Castle stood here.

Trinity College

Trinity College is proudly ensconced at the very heart of Dublin and it carries the same mix of medieval beginnings, Georgian architecture and cultural importance as the city itself. There is nowhere finer to enjoy the fading sun of a Dublin summer’s day than in the spacious landscaped grounds of Ireland’s world renowned university. And you are free to do just that: the gardens are open until 10pm so you can gaze as the sun casts its changing colours on the splendid architecture of the university.

Croke Park

Croke Park in Dublin is so much more than an impressive sports stadium. “Croker”, as it is locally known, is in many ways is a bastion of Irish identity that protects the spirit of Gaelic games from forces seeking to dislodge it. If this all sounds a bit dramatic you should take the fantastic Croke Park Experience tour to get a very real sense of just how important and deeply ingrained the GAA and Gaelic games are to Ireland’s sense of itself.

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