Tucked away to the south of Dublin‘s River Liffey and up against the Irish Sea, Ringsend is a stronghold of the traditional Dubliner, though it has developed fast in recent years. A previously largely working-class reputation has been set aside with an influx of the likes of Google, Facebook and the improved national football stadium (the Aviva) moving in just down the road.
This is still a distinctive community, though, with the suburb famed as the landing point of (locally hated) Oliver Cromwell‘s invading army, and home to the distinctive Poolbeg Chimneys, seen by many locals as a symbol of returning to the city. While central, it’s very much more a suburb than a part of the city’s heartland, but this is a suburb with plenty to explore. Here’s what we’d suggest.
This is quite definitely the symbol of Ringsend, and seen by many locals as a real icon of Dublin itself. The twin chimneys of the Poolbeg Power Station are located in Ringsend’s industrial estate, and famously visible as you enter the city’s port by boat. As you stroll past them, you arrive at windy beaches that are popular with kitesurfers, and then at the Great South Wall. The rustic port wall stretches more than a kilometre into the Irish Sea, forming a narrow, walkable sea road that’s best accessed only in moderate weather. At the end, you’ll find a distinctive red lighthouse, some rusty dock equipment and an utterly different angle on Dublin. There’s even a swimming club two-thirds of the way down, if you’re feeling brave.
Greyhound racing was once a major sport in Dublin, but it’s been in decline, with the recent closure of a major track in Dublin’s Harold’s Cross feeling like a critical moment. Shelbourne Park is still going strong, however, and as well as dogs chasing (artificial) hares around a track at high speed, the track does great deals on food and drink to try to bring in the punters. Gambling is a key part of the sport, too, naturally. If you’re staying in the city, there’s a free shuttle bus to the stadium on Friday and Saturday evenings, leaving from Burgh Quay, and you can grab a ‘how to bet’ guide to work out how to add a little spice to the races by risking a euro or three.
South Lotts Road, Dublin 4, Ireland. +353 61448080
Explore the local sailing and rowing scene
Given Ringsend is all but surrounded by water (the River Liffey, its tributary the River Dodder, Grand Canal Docks and the Irish Sea all but surrounding the district), it’s no surprise that sailing and rowing are both popular here. Rowing is more established, with rival clubs Stella Maris and St Patrick’s hosting regular smaller competitions throughout the summer and also the annual Ringsend Regatta as a flagship event. St Patrick’s has been here more than 75 years. Sailing is a newer proposition, but Poolbeg Yacht Club has an 18-race series running through the summer, so there’s plenty of watery action to check out.
Stroll through Grand Canal Dock
This plush redevelopment around Dublin’s south city Docklands has proven so popular that it’s drawn in a host of major tech firms, including Google, Facebook, LinkedIn and home-grown payment company Stripe (sure, the Irish corporate tax system might have played a small role, too). It’s also become an upmarket alternative to the city centre, a business-heavy spot that still has funky art, a sizeable theatre (the Grand Canal Theatre, see below), loads of restaurants and bars, hotels, and a clutch of local kids who spend half the summer leaping into the dock’s waters. It’s a far cry from the industrial corner it used to be, and a symbol of Dublin’s rejuvenation.
Dig into a surprisingly deep cinematic history
Actor Colin Farrell was a longtime resident of Ringsend (though he hails from the other side of Dublin, in Castleknock), but for movie buffs, there’s a far more substantial cinematic legacy to explore. Naturally, Boland’s Mill appears in a number of Irish revolutionary films. More surprisingly, the region plays a role as Rita’s hometown in Educating Rita (1983), and has several streets that feature as market scenes in Agnes Brown (1999). In The Name of the Father (1993) and The General (1998) also feature the district, which evidently went through a 90s cinematic heyday. No coincidence, perhaps, given the impact of U2 at that time, and their studio’s location in Ringsend.
The Grand Canal Theatre (now known by its sponsor’s name as the Bord Gais Energy Theatre) is one of the biggest theatres in Ireland that hasn’t crossed over to being dominated by the predominance of local music over theatre. Located in a shining glass building overlooking the canal (the building with the sloped roof in the image above), it hosts a lot of musicals and plays, alongside the occasional gig, performances dedicated to a few local stars, and kids shows. You never quite know what you’ll find here, but it’s garnered a solid reputation for consistently strong productions and is a generally pleasant place to spend time.
Grand Canal Square, Docklands, Dublin 2, Ireland. +353 16777999
KEEN TO EXPLORE THE WORLD?
Connect with like-minded people on our premium trips curated by local insiders and with care for the world
Since you are here, we would like to share our vision for the future of travel - and the direction Culture Trip is moving in.
Culture Trip launched in 2011 with a simple yet passionate mission: to inspire people to go beyond their boundaries and experience what makes a place, its people and its culture special and meaningful — and this is still in our DNA today. We are proud that, for more than a decade, millions like you have trusted our award-winning recommendations by people who deeply understand what makes certain places and communities so special.
Increasingly we believe the world needs more meaningful, real-life connections between curious travellers keen to explore the world in a more responsible way. That is why we have intensively curated a collection of premium small-group trips as an invitation to meet and connect with new, like-minded people for once-in-a-lifetime experiences in three categories: Culture Trips, Rail Trips and Private Trips. Our Trips are suitable for both solo travelers, couples and friends who want to explore the world together.
Culture Trips are deeply immersive 5 to 16 days itineraries, that combine authentic local experiences, exciting activities and 4-5* accommodation to look forward to at the end of each day. Our Rail Trips are our most planet-friendly itineraries that invite you to take the scenic route, relax whilst getting under the skin of a destination. Our Private Trips are fully tailored itineraries, curated by our Travel Experts specifically for you, your friends or your family.
We know that many of you worry about the environmental impact of travel and are looking for ways of expanding horizons in ways that do minimal harm - and may even bring benefits. We are committed to go as far as possible in curating our trips with care for the planet. That is why all of our trips are flightless in destination, fully carbon offset - and we have ambitious plans to be net zero in the very near future.