Firstly, a question. What the feck happened to Dublin?
I spent a week in Dublin recently with my son. We stayed close to the city centre, admittedly for the first time in almost 4 years. I have fond memories of exploring the city, it was always a lot more animated and lively than Cork but this time around it just somehow seemed a bit more depressed and rundown.
The streets were dirtier than I remembered. There was Smashed bottles, overflowing rubbish bins and remnants of things I’d rather not think about littering the sidewalks. Temple Bar seemed to now belong to the pre-teens and whilst I remember it always being rowdy it had a certain undeniable, now it was simply a sad memory of what it once was. Maybe I’m just that bit older or maybe it’s something else, I just didn’t really enjoy my time in the city this time around which is a shame. It could also just be the reality of how hard the last year has been for everyone. I hope it can get back to what it once was.
On the photography side of things though I did have some fun exploring the streets and the mix of people did provide some great subjects for my shots.
If you don’t want to read any further and just want my picks for great street photography spots around the city here’s my top 5;
Frenchman’s Lane / Talbot Street
Temple Bar / Ha’Penny Bridge
Irish Life Group Building
Pearse Street Station
I started by exploring the buildings and alleys on the North Side of the Liffey River. I would recommend shooting around the Irish Life Group building. It’s brick and concrete facades and arched exteriors make for great framing, there are also several bus stations around the building meaning there is no shortage of people coming and going any time of the day.
Just to the east of this building you will find the train line running North / South through the city center. The raised railway line provides some great shadows and framing in the alleys that intersect the line. Frenchman’s Lane and Talbot Street would be two I’d recommend for shadows and texture.
I walked towards the Dublin Docklands area which spreads to both the North and South of the Liffey. The continuous development means a great mix of old and new architecture. The area is quite vibrant also with lots of murals and street art to explore. If you like architecture there is also the "Samuel Becket Bridge" designed by the famous Spanish Architect "Santiago Calatrava".
If you then loop back towards Temple Bar on the South Side of the River Liffey you can pass the Dublin Pearse Railway station with it's old brick and steel facades. Turning towards the West you'll also find yourself passing Trinity college and on towards the famous busty statue of Molly Malone.
Temple Bar is easily one of the most well known attractions of Dublin. Always lively and before COVID always a place to enjoy an overpriced pint and some great live music. I would recommend walking through the streets during the day but always come back at night because once the sun disappears and the lights come on the streets are transformed and it's quite beautiful. I would also recommend swinging by the Ha'Penny Bridge with it's iron fences it is always a great place to catch some interesting people and great views of the River Liffey (I met a lady with a pet Macaw).
So what are my take aways from shooting in Dublin? It was fun, there was loads of interesting people and when the sun is out it is just perfect. Rainy days make it a bit harder but the gritty streets and cobble roads lend themselves for moody black and white shots on those less than perfect days.
I didn't feel unsafe during my walks but I would say that I was very "Aware" of my surroundings and would probably recommend shooting in the evenings with a friend. It wasn't all bad and I met some wonderful people. We shared a few drinks, laughs and swapped stories but it just always felt like something was missing and I wasn't sad to be packing up and making my way back down to Cork at the end of the week.
If you are planning a trip to Dublin here are a few travel tips;
Go to Cork instead.
Pay a bit more and stay somewhere that is a little out of the city (South Side of the Liffey if you can) or even out towards the Docklands. There are several Hospitals in the middle of the city and the sirens together with late night punters can be loud.
Parking – Street parking is all Paid parking and most city hotels don’t offer on site parking. If you are taking a car, make sure you have a plan. I used “Apcoa Parking” at Dalymount Park which was about a 20-minute walk from the city. It was safe and reasonably priced, and you don’t need the car to explore the city.
If you do have a car I highly recommend driving to the East of the city and doing the walk out to the “Poolbeg Lighthouse”. On a nice day it’s a lovely walk and great view.
Nando’s Chicken is always a good idea. LOL this is a personal one, but I bloody love Nando’s.
Don’t forget to pay your toll. If you drove into the city you more than likely passed through the M50 toll at some point. You have 24 hours to pay your toll, don’t forget because it just starts to compound after this (http://www.eflow.ie).