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Be sure to bring some energy, here are our Drumcondra essentials.
Dublin’s heart is encircled by canals, the Grand Canal arching around the south of the city, and the Royal Canal around the north. The Royal Canal runs all the way from the Liffey River to Longford, in the heart of the country, where it joins up with the Shannon River, which in turn eventually joins the Atlantic coast. It’s in a state of modest disrepair these days, but walking the lochs and exploring is still a pleasure. It’ll take you past the prison walls referenced in the iconic trad song ‘The Auld Triangle’, under Croke Park, and into a strange kind of city byway in its towpaths. It’s a great route to jog around, too.
Dublin loves a good old-world sweet shop, and Kavanagh’s is one of the better ones; not so much an overpriced reinvention, but something that feels like it’s actually taken from fifty years ago. Pick up hard candies in paper bags by weight, served from glass jars. There’s a heap of the old favourites, from bonbons to sours, as well as plenty of friendly recommendations.
The latest addition to Croke Park, the Ericsson Skyline Tour takes you onto the roof of the stadium. There are regular stadium tours too, taking you into the dressing room and out onto the pitch, but unless you’re a GAA aficionado, this one, offering views across all of Dublin from your vertigo-inducing perch on a metal walkway over the Cusack stand, is the one to go for. You’ll get a nice view of the pitch, too. The roof-walk requires at least modestly good weather, though there’s something incredibly thrilling about it if you’re feeling brave and head up in a bit of a breeze.
Jones Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 3, Ireland. +353 8192300
Yes, we know, but it really is the big thing here. If you want to actually get stuck into a bit of the old Gaelic games action, Drumcondra club side Na Fianna is one of the clubs involved in the ‘Experience Gaelic Games‘ days, which give you a couple of hours of action in both football and hurling in the company of a solid player or two. Since most locals start playing the games as toddlers, this is a great way of getting a taste of the real basics from a company that’s used to going really basic, and will serve up your kit for you, too. A great experience.
Na Fianna, Mobli Road, Drumcondra, Dublin 9, Ireland. +353 18370210
Drumcondra is mainly about GAA, but this sports-obsessed part of the city has another love, too, in local soccer club Shelbourne. Currently going through a real low-ebb in their history, the Tolka-side club play in a slightly derelict ground, ‘Tolka Park’, right in the heart of Drumcondra, but once gambled on joining the European elite. The club invested a fortune in attempting to reach the Champions League, breaking new ground for Irish club football in knocking out several higher profile clubs in the process, in the early 00s. They never quite made it, and financial catastrophe followed. There’s something reassuringly old-school about watching them play now.