The best of what Dublin has to offer so that you never find yourself without something to do!
Classical Music and Opera
Bord Gais Energy Theatre– This large, modern and rather unsightly theatre designed by Daniel Liebeskind in the revitalised Docklands area of the city is Ireland’s largest with a capacity of 2,000. Regular musicals, some direct from Broadway and the Westend, fill the schedule alongside ballet, pop gigs, and classical music performances. Location: Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin 2
Peppercanister/St. Stephen’s Church – This church, named for its ‘pepper canister’ cupola, hosts regular sessions of orchestral and choral music.
Location: 2 Mount Street Crescent, Dublin 2
National Concert Hall – This somewhat bland neoclassical building near St. Stephen’s Green became one of Europe’s leading medium sized concert venues after a remodelling in 1981 and is Dublin’s principal venue for classical performances of all kinds. Symphonies, chamber groups, and a host of renowned international conductors have performed here while the RTE National Symphony Orchestra hosts regular events throughout the year.
Location: Earlsfort Terrace, Dublin 2
Opera Theatre Company – The country’s only touring opera group, this troupe performs throughout Dublin and across Ireland.
Location: Temple Bar Music Centre, Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
St. Patrick’s Cathedral – The cathedral hosts regular concerts and evensong choral singing most days of the week at 5:30 pm.
Location: Saint Patrick’s Close, The Liberties, Dublin 8
IMMA/Royal Hospital Kilmainham – The Irish Museum of Modern Art hosts regular classical concerts within its 17th Century buildings.
Location: Military Road, Kilmainham, Dublin 8
Rock and Contemporary Music
ALT – This intimate former theatre has been transformed into a buzzing music hall.
Location: 9-11 Andrew’s Lane, Dublin 2
International Bar – There’s a tiny room upstairs in this long established venue where you’ll never be far from the band. The International also hosts afternoon theatre performances and a weekend comedy club.
Location: 23 Wicklow Street, Dublin 2
The Village – If you like amps on full and lead singers who know how to scream, this is the place for you. This glass fronted building isn’t too particular about who performs so long as those criteria are met.
Location: 26 Wexford Street, Dublin 2
Whelan’s – While it looks a little shabby, Whelan’s is nonetheless one of Dublin’s most popular music venues and with good reason. Rock, folk, and traditional music are all performed here by well-known bands.
Location: 25 Wexford Street, Dublin 2
Button Factory – Singer-songwriters, world music performers, and rock bands all perform at this music venue and nightclub which is always buzzing no matter what night it is.
Location: Curved Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Olympia Theatre – A good atmosphere and excellent acoustics make this theatre perfect for performances which range from rock to country.
Location: 72 Dame Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
The 3Arena – This modern arena with a 15,500 capacity is where the city’s biggest indoor concerts tend to take place with performances by rock stars and dance groups.
Location: Northwall Quay, Dublin 1
Vicar Street – Located between Christ Church Cathedral and the Guinness Storehouse, Vicar Street is an ideal venue for intimate performances. Folk, jazz, rock, and comedy shows are common here.
Location: 58-59 Thomas Street, The Liberties, Dublin 8
Gaiety Theatre– Aside from plays, this grand red and gold chandeliered theatre performs musical comedy, revues, and performances by Opera Ireland.
Location: South King Street, Dublin 2
Samuel Beckett Theatre – The home of Trinity College’s dramatic society with drama by the group and visiting troupes from throughout Europe. There are also regular dance performances.
Location: Trinity College, Dublin 2
The New Theatre – You should get some idea of what to expect from performances at this tiny theatre from the decidedly left wing bookshop out front. Productions of working class playwrights Brendan Behan and Sean O’Casey are common.
Location: 43 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Project Arts Centre – Located upstairs in an ugly modern building, the Project Arts Centre hosts both fringe and mainstream theatre as well as experimental art and contemporary music performances.
Location: 39 East Essex Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Smock Alley Theatre – Located on the site of a 17th Century theatre, Smock Alley is now housed in a fabulous neo-gothic 19th Century building. Art exhibitions are sometimes held upstairs.
Location: 6/7 Lower Exchange Street, Temple Bar, Dublin 2
Abbey Theatre – Ireland’s National Theatre, and one of the most renowned in the world, the Abbey was founded in 1904 and many of Ireland’s greats, such as J.M. Synge, Brien Friel, John B. Keane, and Sean O’Casey have premiered here. There are also regular performances of plays by the likes of Ibsen and Shakespeare. The original building burnt to the ground in 1951 and its replacement is an ugly affair but there are fantastic acoustics and a larger theatre space. The Peacock Theatre, in the Abbey’s basement, tends to host more experimental performances.
Location: 26 Lower Abbey Street, Dublin 1
Gate Theatre – Originally built as an assembly room for the Rotunda Hospital next door, this intimate theatre puts on productions by Irish playwrights both modern and classical. Plays by Beckett, Wilde, and Shaw are common while the Gate usually has a Christmas play based on one of Dickens’ works. Location: Cavendish Row, Parnell Square, Dublin 1
There are plenty of tacky Irish souvenir shops dotted around the city centre but there’s a huge variety of retailers from major department stores to niche Irish design focused boutiques.
The main shopping area consists of O’Connell Street, Henry Street, and Grafton Street but you shouldn’t expect a huge range of bargains though sales have become more frequent in recent years the best deals are usually found in January.
Most city centre stores have opening hours of 9 am to 6 or 7 pm with Thursdays and Fridays being late nights, generally 9 pm. It’s only been in recent years that stores have begun to open on Sundays, generally 11 am or 12 pm. You’ll have to fight through the crowds in the afternoon and on weekends, particularly on the pedestrianized Henry and Grafton streets so shopping early in the day might be a good idea.
Dundrum Town Centre – Winner of European Shopping Centre of the year more than once, this shopping mecca is a bit outside the city but can be easily accessed by Luas from St. Stephen’s Green (the Balally stop is closest to the Town Centre). Store to match all tastes and budgets from bargains at Penny’s to high end fashion at House of Frazier and Harvey Nichols can be found here. If you have kids, a visit to Hamley’s toy store is a much.
Location: Sandyford Road, Dundrum, Dublin 16
George’s Street Arcade – Open to the street at both ends, the wind whipping through this 1881 structure, Dublin’s oldest shopping centre, can make the George’s Street Arcade feel more like an outdoor market than anything else. There’s a small but diverse range of second hand bookshops, hipster boutiques, and art stalls, plus a few cafes.
Location: South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2
Powerscourt Centre – Built in 1771 by Lord Powerscourt, the central courtyard has been covered in and now this three story building is shared by jewellers, antique stores, cafes, and boutiques. There’s also a small theatre, the Irish Dance Museum (with regular performances), and the Irish Dolls Hospital here.
Location: 59 South William Street, Dublin 2
Royal Hibernian Way – Located where the former Royal Hibernian Hotel, a 200 year old establishment demolished in 1983, stood, the Royal Hibernian Way is home to a small number of expensive, stylish stores including antique shops and fashionable clothing and accessory outlets.
Location: Between Grafton Street and Dawson Street, Dublin 2
St. Stephen’s Green – A Victorian ironwork shopping centre that’s home to the largest indoor clock in Europe (best viewed from the causeways on the first floor). There’s a large Dunnes Stores department outlet but most of the 100 plus shops are small stores selling fashion, household goods, and novelty items. There’s a food court above the main door.
Location: St. Stephen’s Green, where South King Street meets Grafton Street, Dublin 2
Westbury Mall – Home to a number of upmarket designer stores selling clothes, shoes, antiques, and jewellery.
Location: Westbury Hotel, Balfe Street, Dublin 2
Brown Thomas – Ireland’s premier department store, Brown Thomas features leading Irish and international designers in fields such as clothes, shoes, handbags, jewellery, and crystal.
Location: 88 Grafton Street, Dublin 2
Dunnes Stores – The largest chain of department stores in the country, you’ll find good value clothes as well as more exciting designer brands (such as Savida) in Dunnes. There is a clothing-only branch on Grafton Street and a more designer-focused Dunnes on Georges Street but the two main branches are to be found in St. Stephen’s Green and on Henry Street.
Location: St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Dublin 2 and 34 Henry Street, Dublin 1
Marks & Spencer – Coming in somewhere between Dunnes and Brown Thomas with good quality clothing that won’t break the bank, Marks & Spencer has a large clothing department and interesting grocery section.
Location: 15-20 Grafton Street, Dublin 2 and 24-29 Mary Street, Dublin 1
Books Upstairs – This shop sells a range of niche and special interest titles on gay, feminist, self-help, and psychology literature.
Location: 36 College Green, Dublin 2
Cathach Books – You’ll find a large collection of first edition Irish novels such as Gulliver’s Travels and Dracula. There’s also a great collection of antique maps of Dublin and Ireland.
Location: 10 Duke Street, Dublin 2
Chapters – While this grand bookshop on Parnell Square, the largest in the city, lacks the charm of its former Abbey Street location, Chapters has a vast range of books and some decent discounts as well as a huge second hand section upstairs.
Location: Ivy Exchange, Parnell Square, Dublin 2
Eason’s – Though much of Eason’s flagship store on O’Connell Street is given over to stationary, gadgets, and magazines, there are still plenty of books with a particularly large Irish section and good children’s department where regular author readings take place. There’s also a smaller branch in St. Stephen’s Green.
Location: 40 O’Connell Street, Dublin 1 and St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, Dublin 2
Hodges Figgis – Founded over 200 years ago, this Ireland’s oldest bookstore and is probably the best in Dublin despite being bought by a large chain group some years ago. It still has the look and feel of an independent store (it doesn’t even have a website) and helpful, knowledgeable staff.
Location: 56-58 Dawson Street, Dublin 2
Reads – Usually manages to sell chart toppers for less than its rivals, Reads also has a good Irish section.
Location: 24-25 Nassau Street, Dublin 2
Stokes Books – Though small, Stokes has a great selection of second hand books specialising in Irish literature and history.
Location: Georges Street Arcade, Dublin 2
Designer Goods and Jewellery
Appleby Jewellers – The most widely known of the jewellers which operate along Johnson’s Court, a narrow lane just off Grafton Street.
Location: Johnson’s Court, Dublin 2
Barry Doyle Design – Doyle makes contemporary Celtic jewellery and you can even watch him work as he makes stunning wedding rings and baubles.
Location: Georges Street Arcade, Dublin 2
House of Ireland – Home of upmarket Irish goods such as crystal, jewellery, sweaters, and ceramics.
Location: 37-38 Nassau Street, Dublin 2
Trinity Crafts – This is where you go for your ‘the leprechauns made me do it’ t-shirts and Guinness branded mugs as well as a host of merchandise for Trinity College.
Location: 27 Nassau Street, Dublin 2
Weir & Sons – The most renowned of Dublin’s jewellers since its foundation in 1869 sells watches, silverwork, leather, glass, and china in addition to jewellery.
Location: 96 Grafton Street, Dublin 2
BT2 – Brown Thomas’s attempt to appeal to the younger crowd, BT2 sells most major labels including DKNY, Guess, and Ted Baker. There’s also a store in Dundrum.
Location: 28 Grafton Street, Dublin 2 and Dundrum Town Centre, Dundrum, Dublin 16
Costume – An upmarket boutique popular with Dubliners in possession of money and fashion sense. Lines include works by local designers including Leigh, Helen Steele, and Helen James while Temperley and Preen feature amongst the international designers on display.
Location: 10 Castle Market, Dublin 2
Indigo and Cloth – A popular classy store which primarily caters to men, though there is a small edgy women’s section, Indigo and Cloth has quickly established a reputation among those with taste.
Location: 27 South William Street, Dublin 2
Smock – A small shop selling designer lines by the likes of A.F. Vandevoft, Pearson, and Veronique as well as a fantastic line of jewellery.
Location: 31 Drury Street, Dublin 2
Topshop– A UK chain whose Irish flagship store is located on St. Stephen’s Green (though not in the shopping centre), Topshop sells affordable yet creative lines with designers like CJG and J.W. Anderson sometimes collaborating.
Location: 6-7 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2
Celtic Note –Targeted at tourists, this store features a good selection of compilations and greatest hits collections.
Location: 14-15 Nassau Street, Dublin
Gael Linn – This store sells Irish language recordings and traditional Irish music for the aficionados among you.
Location: 35 Dame Street, Dublin 2
HMV – HMV left Ireland in January 2013 but reopened some of its stores less than a year later and has now expanded to Grafton Street though to another, slightly smaller premises than it used to have on the capital’s premier shopping thoroughfare. Even so, HMV still has all the latest games, movies, and music across its three floors.
Location: 26 Grafton Street, Dublin 2, 18 Henry Street, Dublin 1, and Dundrum Town Centre, Dundrum, Dublin 16
McCullogh Piggott – Probably the best place in the city to buy score sheets, music books, and instruments.
Location: 11 South William Street, Dublin 2
Tower Records –This store has recently moved from Wicklow Street to Dawson Street and now resides in a former Waterstones bookshop. Tower Records sells all the latest CDs, vinyls, DVDs, music merchandise, and music books. There’s a decent café tucked away at the back upstairs too.
Location: 7 Dawson Street, Dublin 2
Waltons – If you’re looking to pick up a traditional Irish tin whistle or bodhran (hand drum), then Waltons is the place to come in Dublin.
Location: 60-70 South Great Georges Street, Dublin 2
Sweaters and Irish Knitwear
Avoca – A fine store selling a broad range of knitwear, home goods, ceramics, and jewellery by Irish designers.
Location: 11-13 Suffolk Street, Dublin 2
Cleo – Only naturally produced fibers are used for Cleo’s hand-knit sweaters.
Location: 18 Kildare Street, Dublin 2
Kevin and Howlin – Selling traditional Irish clothes with flair, Kevin and Howlin’s stocks handwoven jackets, hats, and suits for men.
Location: 31 Nassau Street, Dublin 2
Monaghan’s – The place to go in Dublin for cashmere clothing.
Location: Royal Hibernian Way, 15-17 Grafton Street, Dublin
This blog shows that when it comes to the Arts and shopping in Dublin, you will never have to walk too far without finding something to keep you entertained. Whether it’s doing some shopping on the upmarket Grafton Street or going to see a show in the Olympia Theatre, Dublin offers an abundance of choices!