EXCLUSIVE | Three Gay Days: Dublin Part Three
By Joe Okonkwo | AN OUTTRAVELER.COM EXCLUSIVE
DAY TWO: ARTS AND TARTS
Make your way to Dublin's Left Bank, Temple Bar, an area often overtaken by herds of overly loud tourists, then lunch (or brunch, depending how late you stayed up last night) at Eden (Meeting House Square; +353-1-670-5372; EUR18-29). This is where socialites and celebrities convene to contemplate the minimalist decor and modern Irish cuisine, or to sip lattes and linger over weekend brunch, gazing out on the adjacent square's gourmet food market (Saturdays).
If you've still corners to be filled, head out into Meeting House Square and sample Irish cheeses, ciders, mustards and more. Follow the street of Temple Bar along, crossing Parliament Street. On your left Cow's Lane Market is a Saturday market that showcases fashion and design. If you didn't snack in Meeting House Square, pick up a pastry in the Queen of Tarts (4 Cork Hill, Dame Street; +353-1-670-7499) in Dublin Castle, a gem of a caf? run by two pastry chefs.
Call in to the National Gallery (Merrion Square West; +353-1-661-5133), with its slick Benson and Forsyth-designed new wing, and its slew of masterpieces by Picasso, Monet, Degas, as well as many Irish names. Walk past the gracious Georgian homes of Merrion Square and into the elegant square itself. In the far corner a colorful Danny Osborne statue of Oscar Wilde lolls on a rock. In true Dublin style, the artwork quickly received a cheeky nickname. "The Fag on the Crag" joins such other irreverently named landmarks as Grafton Street's "Tart with the Cart" (Molly Malone and her barrow) and the "Stiletto in the Ghetto" on O'Connell Street (Ian Ritchie's 400-foot metal Spire), itself a replacement for the unspeakably ugly "Floozy in the Jacuzzi." Oscar reclines opposite his birthplace, Oscar Wilde House (American College Dublin, 1 Merrion Square; +353-1-676-8939; now an outpost of the American College. They're in the midst of renovations, so call to see if they're doing tours or not.
Continue your culture crawl with a performance at the famous Gate Theatre, founded by openly gay duo, Hilton Edwards and his partner Michael McLiammoir. Book ahead for the pre-theatre menu at Chapter One (18-19 Parnell Square; +353-1-873-2266; EUR30-33). It's one of the city's most exciting rooms and perhaps Dublin's most exciting menu.
For elegant drinks in elegant surrounds, The Bailey (2 Duke St.; +353-1-670-4939) is a Wallpaper-esque mixed (straight/gay) option off Grafton Street. To soak up the ambience of a traditional Dublin pub, you can't beat the well-hidden Stag's Head (1 Dame Court; +353-1-679-3687) or busy Kehoe's (9 South Anne St.; +353-1-677-8312.)
DAY THREE: COASTING ALONG
Grab a coffee from Grafton Street institution Bewley's (see above) and hop on the DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transport). A 30-minute trip takes you through Dublin's affluent southern suburbs, along the coast from Sandymount, to Dun Laoghaire, Killiney and Dalkey, where Dublin's celebrities, including Bono and director Neil Jordan, live in extravagant abodes. Walk through Dalkey Village to the Queen's Pub (12 Castle St.; +353-1-285-4569) and sample their excellent pub food for lunch, or explore Dalkey, following Sorrento Road, peering into immaculate abodes and wondering who might be at home.
Back in the city, catch a cab to Kilmainham Gaol (Inchicore), where the leaders of the 1916 Rising were imprisoned and executed. The atmospheric prison was abandoned in 1924 and now serves as a museum on the history of Irish nationalism. The cells where prisoners, such as poet and writer Padraig Pearse, the Rising's commander-in-chief and an author of homoerotic poems, spent their last nights, are eerie.
Bringing things up to the present, IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art (Royal Hospital, Kilmainham; +353-1-612-9900) displays art from the 1940s onwards, including provocative works in unusual mediums. The cavernous cellar caf? makes a distinctive stop for coffee and, if the weather is willing, the grounds are pleasant to stroll. If you're thirsty, the Guinness Storehouse (St. James' Gate Brewery; +353-1408-4800) is adjacent, with regular tours and tastings.
Walk the 20 minutes back to Dame Street or catch a cab to dine at the gay-owned Mermaid (69-70 Dame St.; +353-1-670-8236; EUR19-27), gazing through its ample windows at the hordes heading out to the city's bars. Once you've sampled their transatlantic fare, join the crowds and enjoy your last night out on the town.
Trot through Temple Bar and across Parliament Street Bridge. Keep an eye out on your right for Gubu (7-8 Capel Street; +353-1-874-0483). The bar came out a few years ago, and provides a lower key haunt for city scenesters. Back in Temple Bar, Glitz (Breakdown at Break for the Border, Lower Stephen's Street; +353-1478-0300) is a good option if high energy, commercial dance music and youthful Irish boys are high on your priority list.
For a more mixed bunch of gay men and women, and ages, head back to The George (see above), where the mayhem lasts till the wee hours. Sunday night bingo is crammed -- and stars both drag queens, drag kings and, occasionally, some bingo calling. Women should also check the gay publication GCN for dates of the twice monthly, femme-tastic night, Kiss (The Shelter at Vicar Street; 99 Vicar Street; +353-1-454-6656).