Popular at any time of the year, Dublin attracts visitors from all over the world, all eager for a taste of the city’s vibrant culture, warm Irish hospitality and, of course, the craic.

And yes, it is only half an hour by plane, but on this occasion I decided (in my wisdom) to spend seven hours sailing across a rather choppy Irish Sea.

With daily and nightly sailings from Birkenhead to Dublin Port, it is an ideal mode of transport for anyone not keen on flying or those travelling with families.

As a huge U2 fan, there was really only one hotel for me. The Clarence, situated in Temple Bar, is a boutique hotel owned by rock royalty Bono and The Edge of U2.

I stayed in a standard room, but if you’re feeling flush, there’s always the penthouse suite, a full-length loft room complete with baby grand piano, bar and a hot tub outside on the roof terrace! Now that’s rock n roll, although it will set you back around 2,700 euros per night.

Although I’ve visited Dublin many times, one place I’d never been before was Malahide Castle, one of the oldest castles in Ireland. Our evening began with a tour of the castle, with its beautiful period furnishings and extensive collection of Irish portrait paintings, followed by a six-course banquet in the rather majestic Great Hall.

And, with wine to complement each of the courses, together with some Jameson’s whiskey, it wasn’t long until we were all singing along (albeit rather badly) with some traditional Irish folk favourites.

Needless to say, it was a rather sleepy group of people meeting up for breakfast the following morning at Bewley’s legendary coffee shop on Grafton Street. A mere hangover, however, did not stop every one of us indulging in a full Irish breakfast and a tonne of fresh coffee, setting us up for a full day’s sightseeing.

There’s plenty to see, but by far the best way to get a true flavour of this historic city is with people like Pat Liddy and his fascinating walking tours of Dublin.

A real character, Pat is something of a local legend and what he doesn’t know about Dublin isn’t worth knowing.

After a whistlestop history of St Stephen’s Green, St Ann’s Cathedral, Trinity College, the real highlight was a trip to the Guinness Storehouse, home of the legendary black stuff.

It was here that our group, a mixture of ardent Guinness fans and stout virgins, had the opportunity to learn how to pour the perfect pint of Guinness. After much hilarity, I’m happy to say that my pint was used as the ‘perfect example’ although I couldn’t quite get to grips with the shamrock finish.

However, a couple of pints later and a few black velvets (half Guinness, half champagne) and no-one seemed to care… After a short cruise along the River Liffey, it was time for yet more culinary treats – an exquisite three-course meal at the Michelin-starred L’Ecrivain, on Lower Baggot Street. And what trip to Dublin is complete without a pub-crawl along Temple Bar?

Although when it comes to great pubs with live music, you’re pretty much spoiled for choice in Dublin.

It can be expensive, but it’s great fun and probably the best place on earth to spend St Paddy’s Day.

Dublin Tourism

0800 039 7000


Malahide Castle

00 353 1846 2184




Aer Lingus


The Clarence

00 353 1407 0820


Pat Liddy’s Walking Tours

00 353 8182 05205