If you’re planning a trip to Dublin or live here and want to explore the city more, I have lots of tips for you. Dublin is a wonderful city full of great museums, galleries, shops and restaurants. Here’s where to start!

I write a regular series called One Day in Dublin – detailing whole days full of Dublin adventures. Check back every few weeks for a new installment! You can view the first Day in Dublin here.

I also write a regular column for Poppytalk called Dispatches from Dublin, about the craft and design world in our great city. I share the stories behind great shops, initiatives, tours and workshops.

Getting around Dublin is pretty easy. Here’s what you need to know about public transportation and Dublin Bikes. And here a few more links to get you started here on FCV!

I wrote a City Guide for Design*Sponge about Dublin.

Like ice cream? Check out Murphy’s.

Everything you need to know to blend in at the pub.

Romantic Grafton Street.

*** Need a little more help? I also give custom tours of Dublin through Vayable. Whatever your interests, I can put together a three-hour tour that will help you learn about the makers, bakers, artists and creators that make this city tick. Click here to learn more about my Made in Dublin tours.

Delightful Dublin Guidebook Holiday Discount!

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Just like that, Christmas is right around the corner. It’s not even possible that it’s surprising – we’ve been talking about it for months – but yet how is it so close?! I went to order a gift online today and was out of luck because it won’t get there in time for Christmas. Ack!

So I figured a few of you might be in the same predicament and are spending your last few days looking for great online gifts. Terrifying side note/trivia fact, did you know Amazon’s busiest time for ordering gift cards is Christmas morning?! I’m not sure where I heard that, but it’s a little depressing, so we’ll get back on track.

In case you’re in the market for a last minute gift that doesn’t rely on postage, you can order a copy of my guidebook, Delightful Dublin, and receive it instantly! If you’re like me and like to have something physical to accompany an online gift, order a copy, then send me a note and I’ll email you a file you can print and include in a card! It’s a pretty affordable little gift for anyone who loves Dublin or is planning a visit!

Use the code HOLIDAY25 to get 25% off the price of Delightful Dublin, so that’s only $9 for 250 beautiful pages of inspiration and information on this delightful city. Ho ho ho!

Order right here!

*Discount applies to postcard packs (see those right here) as well, but you’ll have to wait until after Christmas to get those! 

Simple Inspiration: This Is Why I Love Dublin

Irish Design Shop Dublin

Last week, I got a peek at a new video that Visit Dublin has put together to showcase Dublin. I had just returned from Maine, where, per usual, I spent a lot of time comparing where I grew up with where I live now. Fresh off all that ruminating over country versus city, American versus Irish, rural versus urban, should we move back tomorrow versus should we live in Ireland forever, I was energised by this little video of my adopted city and the inner argument that is always brought on by a trip home was put to rest for the moment.

The video highlights lots of the wonderful little spots I love to show visitors when I’m giving tours, spots that might go undiscovered by most tourists who read typical guidebooks. When Visit Dublin asked if I might want to write a little something to go along with the video, it was an easy and fast yes. That’s my Dublin they’re showing in that video! That’s the city I’ve fallen in love with and that I can’t shut up about! And that’s the city you should seek out if you’re planning a visit.

When I moved here a little over six years ago, the options for guidebooks about Dublin were pretty thin. They were, by and large, stodgy and dull, recommending only the most stereotypical and tourist-trapped sights. But as the city has ballooned with new shops and restaurants, galleries and festivals, the people who love the city have begun to change how the rest of the world views this little corner of the earth. And thank goodness, because Dublin is really an especially delightful place.

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Last week, I crisscrossed the city streets on a Dublin Bike, smiling to myself (well, except the one day I got caught in the rain, no smiles for me that day!) at the swans I get to watch along the canal, the ladies selling fruit and flowers on the sidewalks, the sunsets over the River Liffey. More than once, I found myself craning my neck to get a better look at a shop that had just opened or that I had never noticed before. I’d stop at red lights, flanked on either side by more cyclists, and we’d share a raised eyebrow at the cheeky manoeuvres drivers were trying to finagle in traffic.

By the end of the week, I’d put quite a few miles on those Dublin Bikes and on my boots walking along the cobblestones. I found myself a little weary of the city traffic and chattering crowds. Quick solution on a Saturday afternoon? My usual running route along the seaside bike path up to Howth fishing village, watching the seagulls drop mussels on the rocks to crack them open for lunch, and sucking in the fresh air. As the sun dropped lower, the street lights warmed up and I could see all the city lights across the water.

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For the last six years, whenever I return to Maine for a visit, at least one person asks me something along the lines of so, you must love it there, right? Well, yeah, I do really love it. Sometimes I think not loving it might be a little easier, because I wouldn’t be so torn between two homes I love so much, but the truth is Dublin is just a super city. It’s a manageable size so I never feel overwhelmed but I’m always discovering new spots, and within minutes of downtown you can be looking out at the Irish Sea or heading out to hike in the hills. Dublin is buzzy city streets flanked by mountains and salty ocean, it’s big and yet small, it’s a city that feels like one big town.

All that to say I’ve resumed my usual Dublin cheerleader status after that brief New England vacation. If you’re planning a visit or just want to do a little armchair traveling, here are a few resources to check out.

Delightful Dublin / Visit Dublin / Totally Dublin / Dublin Town

A selection of photos taken by Julie Matkin for Delightful Dublin – a beautiful and useful guide to my adopted city. 

Love in Dublin City

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These photos are 1000% out of season. We haven’t had cherry blossoms in Dublin in several months, but that hasn’t affected the giant smile plastered across my face as I flip through these photos. My incredibly talented friend Ashley Ludaescher, a fellow American ex-pat I met at the Hive Conference in Berlin more than two years ago, came to Dublin to shoot the Sister Mag feature I was in during the spring.

Somehow we found time to do a little shoot with Michael and they are probably the most romantic photos we’ve ever had taken. And the smile is absolutely stuck to my face as I get to see the looks Michael and I give each other.  Every time I flip through these photos, I feel those laughs and smiles and admiring looks we give each other. Those are our looks, and Ashley captured them perfectly.

Michael and I didn’t really have fancy wedding photos taken – that was only becoming trendy when we got married more than six years ago. And since then, we’ve had our photo taken by Julie a few times but even that was mostly business. These were just meant to about us – no other motives whatsoever. I think you can tell (and I’ve included so many photos here you should probably be convinced!).

I should also mention that what you can’t tell is just how weird and goofy I was feeling during this shoot. When shoots are business, I can get my game face on and work. When shoots are just for fun and romance and smooching, I fizzle into a puddle of giggles and can barely keep a straight face. Thankfully, Michael managed to keep us on track, and Ashley managed to work her magic and make us (me, really) look sane.  emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-2 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-3 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-4

emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-23 mike and em 2 em and mike emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-9 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-10 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-11 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-12 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-14 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-13 mike and em 3 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-17 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-18 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-20 emily_michael_ashley_ludaescher-22 You’ll be seeing just a few of these photos in a Christmas card DIY next week!

If you’re in the market for a wedding photographer or a love shoot, Ashley is wonderful!

 

Surprises

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Last week was a funny week for me – it was very quiet on the outside, but there was lots going on behind the scenes. This time, it had nothing to do with work or projects. This time, I was traveling from Dublin to Maine to surprise my family with a bonus visit! Only my brother knew, and he helped me with the rest of the logistics. I don’t think I’ve looked forward to something this much or wanted to repeat it as many times as last week. It was a blast and a blessing.

Living in Ireland is obviously exciting and fulfilling and wonderful in a lot of ways – Michael and I travel around Europe so much, we get to experience a different culture every day (for better or worse!), we get to live near the city and the sea, the butter tastes better… But living so far from my immediate family is hard most of the time. We have done really well in the last six years to cope with the distance, but it still remains that it’s hard to be the one who moved away. Very, expensively far away.

A few weeks ago marked six years since I have lived in Dublin. Michael and I reminisced about the morning I arrived, at 5am in the howling, windy rain. We have come so far since then, and I have come so far since then. Michael and I have made a home for ourselves, and I have made a career for myself. We are surrounded by family and friends, and we have our hilarious chickens and a cat that is currently being contracted out for some mouse retrieval.

Our life in Dublin is wonderful nearly all the time, but this year I have realized that part of my coping mechanism in the last six years might have been to convince myself I don’t want to move back home. I may very well have brainwashed myself out of homesickness. While we are simultaneously thinking about buying a house in Dublin, I find myself wondering and stewing over whether someday we should move back to America.

All that to say, while I hem and haw about where I’ll be the least homesick, it was so great to add another surprise trip to Maine this year. We found a really cheap flight and I managed to keep the secret for two months! I surprised my sister, my grandparents, and then my parents – and no one had heart attacks! I get to be in Maine for Thanksgiving this week, (and my birthday today!) and in fact we’ve already celebrated with two more Thanksgivings just for good measure.

If anyone wants to talk years on years of ex-pat homesickness and how to cope without brainwashing yourself, I’m all ears!

A Walk in the Park and So Much More

Phoenix Park Farmleigh

Last week I put together a post for Conde Nast Traveler about Phoenix Park here in Dublin and I was reminded of just how amazing it is. Phoenix Park is one of the largest in-city parks in Europe, has a herd of wild deer (!), the Dublin Zoo, the President’s house, Victorian gardens, monuments, a castle…the list is so long. It’s a popular spot for locals to run and cycle and bring their children, and it’s a great option for visitors to escape the busy city as well.

You can have a lovely virtual visit to Phoenix Park in my post on Conde Nast Traveler.

All photos by Julie Matkin.

Delightful Dublin Postcards Available Now!

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Exciting news today! We’ve put together the perfect stocking stuffer for the Irish-at-heart on your holiday list: Delightful Dublin postcards! Six beautiful photographs from the Delightful Dublin guide, with little postcard markings on the back.

Since Delightful Dublin is a digital guide, we knew we wanted to have something physically printed to go along with it and show off Julie’s gorgeous images of the city. This way, if you’d like to order Delightful Dublin as a gift to give to someone, you can have something physical to give them along with the digital download. They come all wrapped up, and shipping anywhere in the world is included, just in time for the holidays.

You can purchase a copy of the guide (for yourself or as a gift) and a pack of postcards for a discounted price. If you’re ordering Delightful Dublin as a gift, send me an email and we’ll help you with the surprise details for the recipient!  delightful_dublin_postcards_2

You can see all the designs there – the War Memorial Gardens, Georgian doors, the General Post Office and even a little shot of gorgeous Howth. I might be biased, but I think they’re so modern and fresh – unlike any postcards I see around the city!

Of course, these little postcards don’t have to be put in the mail, they’re perfect to frame and hang on your wall, too!

You can purchase your postcard pack here, and all orders will ship December 1st, just in time for the holidays!

Irish Makers at Work / Claire Ryan of the Informal Florist

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It’s time for another instalment of my collaboration with talented photographer Christine Burns today. This time, we get to have a reunion with the Informal Florist! Doing this interview was so fun, because the last time I featured Claire on my website was when I interviewed her for Poppytalk over two years ago!

I’ve been the recipient of some of Claire’s work in the meantime, when she did the beautiful floral arrangements for my 30th birthday dinner party last year. But I haven’t had the chance to chat with her about the Informal Florist business in quite a while, so this is an exciting update because Claire’s business has grown so much in the last few years.

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The first big change in the world of the Informal Florist was the studio, where Claire is able to work without her two little blonde munchkins getting into the arrangements. With whitewashed walls and lots of space for her vessels up on the walls, the new studio is a welcome addition to the operation. Claire admits the studio is regularly freezing, which is “fantastic for flowers” but means she can’t sit still for long before the chill sets in!

Of course, with the unusually warm summer we had, Claire had the opposite problem and was bringing in bags of ice to keep the flowers cool. We both agreed we probably won’t have an Irish summer like that again for a very long time!

Claire now creates arrangements on specially made wooden tables, hand crafted from hundred year old wood and old hospital steel legs by a carpenter in her neighborhood. They’re just the right height and, Claire admits, “They’re my babies.”

 

 

 

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The second big change is that Claire has welcomed a partner in the Informal Florist, Patsy Rafter. The two met at a wedding event in Dublin and became fast friends. With the addition of a partner for the Informal Florist, Claire is managing to balance the hours she spends creating beautiful arrangements with the hours she spends with her family.

informal_florist_at_work_0039 The addition of a partner has also meant the re-opening of the Informal Florist shop! If Michael and I weren’t going to be gone over Christmas, there would be an Informal Florist Christmas wreath on our door. Honestly, there might be anyway – at least our neighbors would enjoy it!  informal_florist_at_work_0071 informal_florist_at_work_0144 2

I asked Claire if she thought her style had changed over the last few years of owning her flower business, and she said the biggest change isn’t in her style but in her knowledge of flowers themselves. And she has learned she can’t discount any flowers – even calla lilies, flowers she admittedly couldn’t stand a few years ago. A wedding color palette required a deep, dark flower and she landed on almost-black calla lilies and fell in love with them. Now, she says, “I’ll never completely discount anything!”

This reflects Claire’s overall goal with the Informal Florist – to keep her arrangements beautiful but approachable. “If you do something and you like it, it’s beautiful to you.”

 

informal_florist_at_work_0283 I can’t wait to see where the Informal Florist is in another few years! And I’m seriously eyeing those tables and those giant dahlias!

Thanks, Claire, for chatting with me, and thanks to Christine for sharing these gorgeous photos!

Missed the earlier Makers at Work? Visit KaroArt, Mianra Soaps, and Fawn Prints

 

 

How to Make the Best Irish Coffee

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Last year, my uncle and aunt visited us in Dublin and we had such a wonderful night at one of the best restaurants in Dublin, Chapter One. One of the highlights of the meal was the Irish coffee. In Chapter One, the waiters make Irish coffee for you with a little cart that they roll up to your table. At first, you just think that seems rather fancy, but then they light it on fire! And that’s just plain fun.

Michael and I had been talking about that Irish coffee for months. Every time someone asked for an Irish coffee recommendation, we would say Chapter One. I’m fairly sure you can’t just rock up there for only an Irish coffee, but if you could Michael and I would be there most nights! Last week, I got to stop into Chapter One to learn their secret recipe for Irish coffee – and I shared it over on Conde Nast Traveler yesterday!

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Sometimes Irish coffee is a little harsh for my taste, but Chapter One caramelises the sugar before adding the coffee and whiskey and cream.  It’s so smooth! Now that we know the secret, you can bet we’re going to be making these at home all winter!  irish_coffee_flame_chapter_one_recipe

Darren, the head waiter, made an extra big flame for the camera. I wish we had a gas stove at home so we could do that, although I’m sure I’d singe my eyebrows in the process.  irish_coffee_cream_chapter_one_recipe

Darren’s trick is to pour the cream onto a spoon that’s facing up, so the cream doesn’t sink to the bottom.

dublin_irish_coffee_finished Thanks, Darren and Chapter One, for spilling the secret! Want the full recipe – and to know why they use only Jameson whiskey? Head over to Conde Nast Traveler for the rest of the scoop!

Delightful Design / Woollen Mills Restaurant

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There’s a new cafe/restaurant in Dublin’s iconic Woollen Mills building and I had been meaning to bring my camera in to take a few photos to share with you. On my whirlwind day last week, I slipped in and snapped away before grabbing coffee and a treat.

The Woollen Mills building is at least a hundred years old, and at one point functioned as a woollen mills. When I first moved here, you could still buy fabric and thread and things there, but it closed a few years ago. Elaine Murphy, the owner of one of our favorite restaurants, The Winding Stair, took over the Woollen Mills and turned it into a Dublin eating house that spans four floors. It’s a bakery, a coffee shop, a cafe and a restaurant that overlooks the River Liffey and the Hapenny Bridge. restaurant_dublin_woolen_mills woolen_mills_dublin_restaurant

The design is industrial, which does make sense, considering the building and its history. They’ve paired charcoal grey and tangerine orange in a really calming-yet-cheerful way.  woolen_mills_coffee_shop_dublin woolen_mills_restaurant_dublin

I think I have 52 photos of the fuchsia muffin cups alone.  cheesecake_dublin_cafe_woolen_mills woolen_mills_restaurant_treats_dublin Those muffin cups sure have a great people-watching view!

The Woollen Mills, 42 Ormond Quay, Dublin 1

 

Dublin in Three Hours: Shopping in the Creative Quarter

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Happy new week, friends! And apologies for sort of falling off the map last week. And at the end of a few weeks in a row there. Usually the beginning of the weeks have more time for blogging, but this week I started with a bang – we had a little celebration for Delightful Dublin in a gallery downtown and I went through today mostly like a zombie – but a zombie on a high! It was a wonderful night and I’ll have photos to share later this week.

But! I do have something really fun to share with you today. One way to spend three hours in Dublin – with a little shopping in Dublin’s Creative Quarter. For some, this might sound like hell (ahem, I see you falling asleep there Dad!), but for others it might sound pretty darn good! I’m not the biggest shopper, but these are some of my favorite shops in Dublin and I could spend hours browsing.

I’m sharing the full itinerary for a really lovely Dublin afternoon over on Conde Nast Traveler.

Photo by Julie Matkin for Delightful Dublin. We’re running a fun promo later in the week if you still haven’t bought your copy!

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