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.

A Perfect Spring Day in St. Stephen’s Green


For the last two weeks, it has been sunny in Dublin. Like real sunshine, the kind that lasts the whole day without a rain shower and there’s hardly a cloud in the sky. Every spring we get this unexpected spate of nice weather days and everyone tip-toes around wondering what we did to deserve this glimpse of summer for so many days in a row, trying not to anger the weather gods and tempt the rain and wintry weather back.

I spent Tuesday afternoon at St. Stephen’s Green with friends, lounging on blankets, people watching and remarking at our good weather. I’m pretty sure I said “I just can’t believe this weather!” every five minutes. Sorry, guys! I’m easily distracted by glorious weather! dublin-green-grass-park park-lounging-dublin   spring-st-stephens-green-dublin

We lounged, along with everyone else in Dublin. Nearly everyone was horizontal, soaking in the Vitamin D that has been so elusive for the last five months.

stephens-green-dublin-spring blossoms-spring-dublin cherry-blossoms-dublin-2

Stephen’s Green has some great cherry blossoms in bloom at the moment. Go quick before they get rained away tomorrow!  spring-in-dublin-cherry-blossoms dublin-spring cherry-blossoms-dublin-spring dublin-spring-2 stephens-green-dublin-spring-2

Stephen’s Green is probably the best people-watching park in the city on a sunny day. I love this photo below. Those two older guys chatting against the tree, and can you spot the girl leaning against her man on the bench, head tipped to the sunshine? We also watched a guy spend two hours practicing bartender tricks with a (presumably empty?) liquor bottle and cups. It was mesmerizing and also looked exhausting. He was dedicated!  dublin-park-springtime dublin-park-spring tulips-st-stephens-green

Stephen’s Green also has incredible tall tulips at the moment, mixed in with petite primulas. Perfect spring combination, in my opinion!  tulips-dublin-spring

Today is the last day of this unexpected spring sunshine and the forecast for the next week looks “changeable” at best. I’ve nearly forgotten what that looks like!

Dublin Bookstore / Books Upstairs


I sat down this morning to write about our time in Croatia a few weeks ago and I just couldn’t do it. I’m ready to be back in Dublin for a minute and writing about Dublin feels much less stressful. So this is the perfect time to introduce you to one of the most beautiful restored Georgian buildings in the city. Books Upstairs relocated a few months ago from their longtime spot in College Green to D’Olier Street and you can’t miss it when you’re walking by.

D’Olier Street isn’t particularly beautiful or colorful, so the blue facade of Books Upstairs with its intricate gold detailing and stained glass windows practically jumps off the brick at you. There’s a space just across the road that’s getting a makeover, too, so I’m hoping D’Olier street is getting a bit of a facelift!


Books Upstairs’ new space has a bookstore on the ground floor, focusing on the best of Irish literature as well as the best of international literature. I chatted with owner Maurice Earls, who told me the store is book oriented, rather than best-seller oriented, and it’s pretty hard to argue with that. They have the whole building, so there’s a cafe on the second floor, the Dublin Review of Books, and even an event space.  books_upstairs_cafe

The cafe is probably the most stunning – in the sunshine the light gleams through the original stained glass windows. I wish more than anything that they had ripped out that red carpet, but the wainscoting and funky artwork go a long way to make up for it.  books_upstairs_cafe_dublin

A lot of the posters are Maurice’s personal collection – his daughters have given him artwork over the years and it has made its way to these walls. He said some of the prints are from This Greedy Pig, a Dublin creative agency. When I tracked them down, it turns out their shop is closed because someone broke in and stole all of their inventory last week, which is horrible. I’ll be anxiously awaiting the reopening of their shop because that print in the top photo is a hoot – they illustrate passages from great literary works and each of them cracked me up.  detail_dublin_bookstore

Can you even get over the pattern and texture on the walls? I know you want to touch it right now.  books_upstairs_irish_books books_upstairs_dublin Books Upstairs has a wonderful collection of Irish literature, if you’re visiting and books are your fave souvenir, this would be a great stop for you! And obviously, locals can park it in the cafe with a great book from one of our favorite Irish authors and relax in that gorgeous sunlight.

Books Upstairs / 21 D’Olier Street / Dublin 2

p.s. Here’s another, more literary review of the bookshop and cafe!


All About Ireland for St. Patrick’s Day


St. Patrick’s Day puts a little extra pressure on me every year. Here I am in Dublin, the epicenter of everything Paddy’s Day, so I feel like I should tell you all the things about Ireland for this holiday. Then again, I talk about Ireland and Dublin and all things Irish all day long, so I thought this year I’d just direct you to a few of those things in case you feel like reading and learning and daydreaming about Ireland while you eat your green pancakes and drink your shamrock shakes. Fair? Fair.

First, tomorrow I’m taking over the Conde Nast Traveler Instagram (!) for the day, to share a little about what Ireland’s really like. You can find me on Instagram @emilyholmes, and Conde Nast Traveler on Instagram @cntraveler.

Are you on Instagram? It’s such a weird and wonderful little world that I both love and am baffled by most of the time. I love capturing the sweet or impatctful moments and sharing them on Instagram, but if I think too long about how weird it is that around the world, we’re all arranging the perfect photos and cropping them and editing them, then crafting the most perfect caption, it’s just too strange. But man, it’s so fun to see my friends and family, nieces and nephews around the world. It makes Ireland seem a little less far away!

Second, in other Irish news, last week I wrote a story for Conde Nast Traveler about what you shouldn’t do in Dublin when you visit – it’s packed with great alternatives to the overrated touristy spots in the city. And the I wrote another story about ten most authentic pubs you should try in Dublin. Or how about ten free things to do in Dublin?

Finally, if you click on the Dublin option in the menu bar, you’ll get an archive of everything I’ve ever written about Dublin. And that will surely keep you going for a while!

Do you have fun plans for St. Patrick’s Day? We’re planning to sleep late, eat some brunch, and hopefully go for a hike before a little afternoon stop in our local pub. A quiet celebration away from the mayhem. If you’re looking for something to do in the city, I’m hearing great things about Paddy’s Day Unlocked in Meetinghouse Square in Temple Bar. I love what people in our city are doing to change stereotypes!

And one last thing. Don’t forget, it’s Paddy’s Day, not Patty’s Day!

Dublin Flower Shop / The Garden


Because it’s Mother’s Day in Ireland on Sunday, I thought it would be a good excuse to have a peek at another Dublin flower shop today! We visited Appassionata and Les Fleurs before Valentine’s Day, and today we’re going to take a peek at The Garden in Cow’s Lane, down in the Temple Bar neighborhood.

In case you’re in need of a little gift for your mom or mom-in-law or grandma, or if you’re strolling through the neighborhood and need a good dose of pretty, here’s another beautiful shop to check out!  the_garden_sign_temple_bar The Garden in Cow’s Lane is the second shop opened by floral designer and landscaper Mark Grehan. His first shop is in the Powerscourt Centre on South William Street in the entryway to the old mansion. You’ll easily spot it because the plants and flowers spill down the grand steps of the Powerscourt!

The Cow’s Lane shop opened a few months ago and it’s a welcome addition to the street. On Saturdays, there’s a craft market with stalls that fill up the little pedestrian street, and on the other days you can visit The Garden as well as the Gutter Bookshop, Queen of Tarts cafe, and Thunder Solas, a little leather shop. Technically, you could also get a tattoo, since there’s a cool-looking tattoo shop on the street too, but that might not be up everyone’s alley!


Little shop dog Ray (or Rea? I forgot to check the spelling of her name!) was on duty to greet everyone on Saturday morning. She was also on hand to paw at the moss in the window, but I think the former was a much better use of her talents!  puppy_the_garden_dublin the_garden_dublin

I love the way flower shops make their whole area brighter and more cheerful, not just inside. The displays spread out onto the sidewalk, beckoning you inside.  the_garden_flowers_dublin flowers_dublin_the_garden

I think Sorcha, who was busy making bouquets inside, might have thought I was a little loopy when I got nearly lost it at the smell of lilac. It’s a sure sign of spring and I might have gotten a little over excited about it!  cows_lane_dublin_flower_shop the_garden_dublin_flowers

Inside, I love the partial charcoal wall. Reminds me of my own hallway! The partial white wall makes the small space feel brighter and larger, and the charcoal is a great backdrop to make the flowers stand out. I also think that eucalyptus/industrial bulb chandelier would be really fun to recreate!  the_garden_dublin_cows_lane the_garden_dublin_cows_lane_temple_bar

Feathery tulips are amazing, aren’t they? Having just been in Amsterdam, I’m on a total tulip kick. I might have to stock up this weekend!  the_garden_cows_lane_dublin flower_shop_dublin_ireland

If you’re only visiting Dublin, The Garden has a lot of little bits that would make good souvenirs – soap from the Irish Handmade Soap Company, candles, shears, mugs and trowels. Useful souvenirs, which are always a hit with me!  anemones_dublin_the_garden flower_shop_dublin_the_garden_cows_lane

You can also follow Mark’s creations from The Garden via Instagram!

The Garden / Cow’s Lane, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

A Golden Moment


While I recover from all that walking and talking around Amsterdam, I wanted to share some golden hour photos from Howth last week. Two days last week we managed to get outside and into the fresh air and we happen to catch Howth in some dramatic light – stormy skies mixed with blindingly bright sunshine. It was magical.  howth_pier_ireland howth_pier_dublin_ireland

I’ve been trying to carry my non-phone camera with me a little more regularly, for moments just like this one. howth_fishing_village_pier howth_fishing_village_ireland howth_dublin_ireland

And I’ve been trying to focus on different angles and details and action, trying to push myself a little to improve my photography and composition. fishing_village_ireland_howth fishing_boat_howth_pier I hope you’re all having a wonderful week! I’ll be back tomorrow with some flowery goodness ahead of Irish Mother’s Day this weekend!


Delightful Design / Blas Cafe at the Chocolate Factory


When Michael was on school break last week, we took a little field trip to the Blas Cafe in the Chocolate Factory. I had been meaning to check it out – it’s always great to hear about a new northside spot!  chocolate_factory_cafe_dublin

I was a big fan of their giant tall ceilings and mix of natural, grey and turquoise-y green chairs. And Michael and I decided that someday we will have hanging lights that twinkle like these (mostly I decided, let’s be honest). They were a little daintier than typical industrial lights so they seemed more glittery than bare.

It’s also just nice to have more space to move around in a cafe. Most Dublin cafes are quite small, so the Blas Cafe felt enormous!  chocolate_factory_dublin_blas_cafe

We only ordered coffee and they were having a problem with their machine so it took forever on the day we were there. When the coffee finally materialized it was yummy, so we’ll be back to give it another shot soon.

Blas Cafe / 26 King’s Inns Street, Dublin 1

How Dublin Bikes Took Over the City


This infographic on Dublin Bikes, our city’s public bike system, arrived in my inbox last week and I thought it would be fun to share with you. I get a lot of infographics in my inbox but I usually delete them because they are cheesy and confirm every stereotype about Ireland that I work so hard to change! But this one was interesting, especially becuase it arrived in my inbox about ten minutes after I made one of those thirteen minute journeys on one of our fifteen hundred Dublin Bikes!

I have to admit, I had a Dublin Bikes card for two years before I got up the guts to use it! Two years! That means I renewed it after not having used it for a whole year! Luckily Dublin Bikes cards are so cheap when you subscribe annually – just €20! And I’ve gotten my money’s worth out of them in the last few years. Sometimes it’s the fastest way to get from A to B, but sometimes it’s just the most fun. I’ve pulled over so many times to take a photo that I wouldn’t have been able to snap if I was on the train or a bus. That said, I’ve also cursed Irish weather on those bikes – there was a stretch when I swear it was only raining on me as I cycled across the city!

Here are a few tips from a regular Dublin Bikes user:

  • Obey the traffic signs and lights
  • Watch out for pot holes, they can be lethal on Dublin streets!
  • Cars often run red lights, so don’t go without making sure all the cars have stopped
  • Don’t wear earphones while you’re cycling, it’s my biggest pet peeve – so dangerous!

You can see the full infographic with lots more Dublin Bikes info right here.

All Over the World with Conde Nast Traveler

Over the last few weeks, I’ve been writing about places all over the world for Conde Nast Traveler. I thought I’d send you on a little journey through those articles today!


10 Best Free Things to Do in Dublin – I love directing people to the free things to do in Dublin, like stroll through the many beautiful parks, or visit the Chester Beatty Library. These are ten of the best things to do in Dublin that won’t cost you a cent!


The Restaurant Guide to Portland, Maine – I had such a fun time writing about my home state, especially because there are so many great places to eat. The image above is from Slab, where food writer and photographer Ted Axelrod describes the Sicilian pizza as a pizza pillow and he couldn’t be more right. Special thanks to Ted for snapping the photos for this story!


The Best Cities for Chocolate Lovers – This was one of the harder stories to write simply because I wanted to be munching on chocolate continuously, chomping with every word! This girl with a sweet tooth has her eye on Brussels soon!


Scenic Day Trips from Dublin – I can’t wait for the weather to warm up just enough to go out for a few day trips. We tried to brave Howth pier for a walk this weekend and it was just too cold and windy. Time for spring!

5 Dublin Cafes for Tea Drinkers


I must admit I rarely drink tea, despite living in a country that takes tea very seriously and despite growing up with a dad who drinks tea all day long. I love to drink tea when an Irish person makes it for me in their kitchen and it always tastes delicious, but when I make it in my house or order it in a cafe and it just isn’t the same and I can’t get through more than a few sips. I also like to drink one very specific kind of vanilla tea some afternoons when I think I shouldn’t have more caffeine. I always end up jittery, looking down at my shaking hands and remembering how much caffeine tea actually has!

But I’ve realized I’ve been neglecting the tea drinkers out there by talking about coffee so much (here, here, and here), and of all the places in the world to drink tea, Dublin is a pretty good one. So, I’ve compiled a list (with the help of a few tea-drinking friends) of lovely little spots to drink tea in the city.

First, I should mention that there are very few places you can’t get a cup of tea in Ireland. You can get regular tea in restaurants, cafes, hotels, even pubs at any hour of the day. And Irish people do order normal tea all day long, and they drink it with milk and sometimes sugar. When you see sugar packets on restaurant tables, typically brown sugar is for coffee and white sugar is for tea. Second, you should know that if ever you encounter a problem in Ireland, tea will likely fix it. It’s just the law of the land!

All that said, these are five spots in Dublin to find a special tea experience or fun, exotic teas. And all of the spots I’ve mentioned that are cosy cafes for coffee will serve you tea as well! Now, on with the show!


Open since 1927, Bewley’s Cafe in the middle of busy Grafton Street is where James Joyce, Patrick Kavanagh and Samuel Beckett chatted and worked over cups of tea. The Bewley family has been importing tea into Ireland since 1835, and they now produce tea and coffee for a ton of restaurants and hotels around the country. The cafe on Grafton Street has incredible Harry Clarke stained glass windows at the very back

Wall & Keogh

Wall & Keogh is filled with big jars of their own tea mixes – even their chai tea is their own blend. Wall & Keogh supply a lot of the other cafes in town, so you’ll see their name on tea all over Dublin. The cafe on Camden Street also does brunch all day, and if that isn’t something to smile about, I don’t know what is!

Clement & Pekoe

I’m realizing that Clement & Pekoe makes all my lists! The little cafe on South William Street is great for coffee, people watching, hot chocolate and now tea! They serve their tea with little individual strainers in each mug. You take the lid off the strainer and set the strainer in it when it’s strong enough for you. They also sell so many kinds of bulk tea in lovely black tins that would make such a nice souvenir for a tea fan!

Sister Sadie

I was in Sister Sadie right at the beginning of our clean and lean eating plan, so I skipped my usual coffee and opted for their “Sassy Sadie” tea blend. I usually make a face at fruity tea, but this was just the right blend of sass in my tea. I was calling it Zany Sadie until I double checked with them, but Sassy Sadie is probably a safer bet! Imagine what Zany Sadie might taste like?!


Nelly’s is a tiny cafe just up the block from Sister Sadie in Portobello, a slightly quieter option with a few little tables on the front stoop. I like Nelly’s because it feels like you’re having tea in your cool Irish older sister’s kitchen. They also have a pantry section where you can pick up teas and wholesome ingredients to bring back to your own kitchen!

Are you planning a visit to Dublin? These are great spots to try, whether you drink tea or not! If you’re looking for a place to stay, try Hotel Direct to find deals for hotels in Dublin.

How to Make Irish Hot Whiskey to Cure the Sniffles

how_to_make_hot_whiskey_title We’ve got a few sniffles in our house at the moment. Nothing severe, but Michael woke up with a bit of a cold. I hate to even call it a cold, since that could encourage them (the cold and the husband), but needless to say it was time to break out my signature hot Irish whiskey recipe.  irish_hot_whiskey

Michael and I met our senior year in college. Well, I like to call it our second senior years. We had both taken time off during our junior years (for very different reasons – I was working for a presidential campaign and Michael was encouraged to take a bit of a break), and we found ourselves meeting for the first time (or third, depending who you ask) when we returned.

Long story short, we spent our second senior years together, me wooing him with ham sandwiches and him wooing me with his Irish phrases that I later realized meant teacher, can I go to the bathroom? During that first winter together in Maine, Michael came down with a few colds and I tried my best to impress him with my Irish hot whiskey skills. I’ve honed this recipe over the years, and every time Michael comes down with a cold he asks for a hot whiskey. Magically, it always seems to perk him up a little!  how_to_make_irish_hot_whiskey

Irish whiskey is such a simple drink to make and takes about two minutes to whip up. Here’s what you need: honey, lemons, cloves (they’re optional), whiskey and water. It’s this simple. Put a slice of lemon, a teaspoon of honey, and a few cloves in a mug. Add a shot of whiskey. Mush that all together with a spoon and make sure the honey has dissolved. Finally, add 1/4 cup of just-boiled water and stir to combine.  kilbeggan_irish_whiskey

You can add a little more water or a little more honey if it’s too strong or too tart.  hot_whiskey_ireland

Do you have colds creeping into your house yet? I’ve managed to escape so far, but we’ve got another few months of cold season to go!

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