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Here’s the best spots in Dublin from US Ambassador Claire D. Cronin

Close up of Claire D. Cronin.
United States Ambassador to Ireland, Claire D. Cronin, shares favorite go-tos on the Emerald Isle.

On the eve of her third St. Patrick’s Day as the United States Ambassador to Ireland, Claire D. Cronin — a lawyer, arbitrator and former member of the Massachusetts House of Representatives — shared her favorite things to see and do in Dublin with The Post.

The Phoenix Park

Antlered denizens in Phoenix Park. Marcin – stock.adobe.com
Antlered denizens in Phoenix Park. Marcin – stock.adobe.com

The Phoenix is twice the size of Central Park and the largest public park in any capital city in Europe. I am privileged to live in the park at Deerfield, the US ambassador’s residence, which is across from the Áras an Uachtaráin, the Irish president’s residence. If you have a beautiful day, rent a bike and visit the Dublin Zoo, the Victorian kitchen garden, Farmleigh Estate and other attractions — you might even see some of the park’s famous deer! Its more than 400 fallow deer descend from a herd introduced in the 1660s.

Kilmainham Gaol

Catch up on your Irish history at the Kilmainham Gaol Museum. matthi – stock.adobe.com
Catch up on your Irish history at the Kilmainham Gaol Museum. matthi – stock.adobe.com

Every visitor to Ireland should book a tour at the Kilmainham Gaol Museum. From the 1798 rebellion to the 1916 Easter Rising and the devastation of the Irish Civil War (1922-23) — all of these events have a chapter in the story of Kilmainham Gaol. Americans may know Kilmainham from movies like “Michael Collins” and U2’s video for “A Celebration,” but Kilmainham is much more than that. It’s central to the Irish story.”

Croke Park

Croke Park is the temple of Gaelic games, Ireland’s national sports, which are played all over the world today. If the timing is right, catch a hurling or camogie game or a Gaelic football match. Take the Skyline Tour and see Dublin city from the very top of the stadium!

‘Listen Now Again’ Seamus Heaney Exhibition

Poet Seamus Heaney reading a book. Getty Images
Poet Seamus Heaney reading a book. Getty Images

Seamus Heaney is one of the most significant poets of the 20th century. The National Library has an immersive experience that examines Heaney’s life and work. The exhibition is located at the historic Bank of Ireland building at College Green, which was the world’s first purpose-built parliament house.

A walk by the sea

One of the great pleasures of living in Dublin are the stunning coastal walks in easy reach of the city. Howth, a picturesque fishing village and port that I love to visit, is one of many villages that dot the coast of the Irish Sea and is only a 25-minute train ride from the city center. After your walk along the cliffs, you can stop in any of the small restaurants for a bite.

A jump in the sea

Full disclosure: I have never done this! However, Dubliners swear by daily sea swimming as the recipe for a long life, and there are many spots near Dublin where you can take a dip in the bracing water. James Joyce’s “Ulysses” opens at Dublin’s most famous swimming spot, the Forty Foot, in Sandycove.

Brú na Bóinne (Newgrange)

This grassy monument predates the Egyptian pyramids. Kaori – stock.adobe.com
This grassy monument predates the Egyptian pyramids. Kaori – stock.adobe.com

Ireland is chock full of Neolithic structures, but Brú na Bóinne, located less than an hour from Dublin, is one of the most beautifully preserved and includes a fantastic museum. Built approximately in 3200 BC — before the pyramids — these structures are among the most important Neolithic sites in the world and contain the largest collection of prehistoric art in western Europe.

St. Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street

Stroll around St. Stephen’s Green — one of Ireland’s oldest public parks situated in the city center — where you can enjoy Victorian-era paths and lawns or learn more about the 1916 Easter Rising from an outdoor exhibition about it. Next, head to Grafton Street, Dublin’s commercial hub where you can find innumerable shops, cafes and restaurants. There are some great little pubs on the side streets.

The Book of Kells, Trinity College Dublin

This is another can’t-miss Dublin attraction that I highly recommend to visitors. Trinity College Dublin holds the Book of Kells, a masterwork of Celtic art from the ninth century. While you are there, consider taking a guided tour of Trinity’s beautiful campus.

National Gallery

The bar scene is unsurprisingly strong in Ireland. mark_gusev – stock.adobe.com
The bar scene is unsurprisingly strong in Ireland. mark_gusev – stock.adobe.com

Located in the center of the city, the National Gallery of Ireland has a wonderful collection, including a recently discovered Caravaggio. Admission is free.

Pub culture

This recommendation goes without saying: when in Dublin, make sure to explore the renowned breweries, distilleries and iconic pubs. As for pubs, every Dubliner has a different opinion. Ask a local, or just wander in and take a seat.