Dublin Weaves Past And Present To Inspire And Entertain
Photo: Grafton Street © Joe Baur
Ireland’s capital city brings to mind two distinct images. One is a literary paradise where the likes of Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and James Joyce left their mark. The other is the traditional pub culture where anyone with a guitar can start a folk tune, sure to be joined by a chorus of drinkers armed with perfectly poured pints.
These days, Dublin fancies itself an international city where a pedestrian is likely to hear a cacophony of languages on an afternoon stroll through Grafton Street. It’s a city that brushed off its “Dirty Old Town” demeanor and embraced the 21st century.
Precisely 100 years ago next month, the city center turned into a war zone when Irish rebel forces stormed the General Post Office in the 1916 Easter Rising. History took a turn toward Irish independence as the British ruthlessly executed 16 Irish leaders, a brutality that shook the nation and turned public support to the rebels. A controversial 1922 treaty created an Irish Free State with the six northern counties of Northern Ireland remaining with the United Kingdom. An 11-month civil war followed, ending with the death of revolutionary Michael Collins. Centuries of tumultuous history finally began to settle as a national referendum in 1937 created a new Irish constitution. The 1948 Republic of Ireland Act severed the last link to the British monarchy and officially created an Irish republic.
Now Irish debates place a higher importance on social politics and economics. As in most global economies, the infamous Irish property bubble burst with the 2009 crash. The period, known as the Celtic Tiger, roared from the 1990s until the crash, years often characterized by greed, excesses and corruption. In brighter news, in 2015 Ireland became the world’s first nation to democratically approve marriage equality for all its citizens.
Today, modern buses and trams that can move any business traveler about the city with ease replace the dust and rubble that characterized Dublin in the early 20th century. Arrive in the morning and you’ll likely encounter the distinct smell of an Irish breakfast consisting of bacon rashers, pork sausage, fried eggs, black pudding, toast, fried tomato and sometimes even a helping of mushrooms and baked beans — a true power breakfast sure to keep you and your colleagues energized throughout the day.
Some of the most popular hotels for business travelers surround St. Stephen’s Green — an important public green space since the late 17th century when the Dublin Corporation started selling the surrounding property for development. Indulge in 5-star luxury at the modern and stylish Fitzwilliam Hotel on the northwestern corner of the park, just off the shopper’s mecca of Grafton Street. Meet for lunch at one of the hotel’s fine-dining venues. For a more traditional approach, stay at The Shelbourne Dublin, the preferred resting stop for many foreign dignitaries from President John F. Kennedy to First Lady Michelle Obama. The Shelbourne serves afternoon tea in The Lord Mayor’s Lounge, complete with a tea butler. Reservations are recommended for this immensely popular treat. The Shelbourne is also firmly rooted in Irish history with its Constitution Room, where Michael Collins and his fellow revolutionaries designed and signed the Constitution of the Irish Free State in 1922.
Today, St. Stephen’s Green fits right in with the rest of Dublin, which locals tout as a pedestrian’s Valhalla. Almost everything a business traveler seeks in Dublin is perfectly accessible by foot — often the most enjoyable way to get from A to B. Otherwise, plenty of public transportation options surround the area. St. Stephen’s Green serves as a terminus for the city’s tram system, currently undergoing expansion.
The Convention Centre Dublin opened its doors for the first time in September 2010 following an incredible $624 million construction project. The Centre sits approximately 20 minutes from the airport and at the heart of the city’s transportation network overlooking the River Liffey. Inside, the facility boasts 22 purpose-built meeting rooms; a 2,000-seat auditorium with a full stage; 48,000 square feet of exhibition space; banquet facilities for up to 3,000 guests; and WiFi. Within walking distance discover restaurants and hotels such as The Spencer Hotel and Clayton Hotel. The stylish and contemporary Marker Hotel — in the heart of the Silicon Docks with prestigious neighbors such as Facebook and EMEA HQ — features one of Dublin’s most popular rooftop bars, a perfect spot to meet over drinks and enjoy a breathtaking view, weather permitting.
While Dublin is far from lacking in entertainment destinations, you might try something new to the scene — Teeling Distillery, the only operational distillery in the city. This haven for whiskey aficionados doubles as an event space, offering tours and tastings. It’s just as good as any of the city’s countless pubs, restaurants and bars to experience the Irish people’s warm welcome and legendary gift of gab.