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Top 10 Day Trips from Dublin

Ireland’s capital offers plenty to see in its own right, but the chance to get away and take a look at some of the trademark greenery of the emerald isle shouldn’t be missed. Plenty of attractive sites are within an hour or two of the capital, and give a great taste of Ireland of old. Here are ten that are well worth the journey:

1. Howth
Perhaps the perfect place to blow away a Dublin-induced hangover, the pretty port of Howth and cliff-side walks around it are a short train ride from the city, and a great way to spend a Sunday. Only the steady-of-foot should attempt the stroll around the headland, which is unfenced and has a hefty drop. On a clear day the aesthetic rewards are stunning, especially the surprisingly turquoise seas. There are plenty of other attractions, too, including a castle, a monastery and a crumbling church.

2. Glendalough
Five churches and a cathedral incorporating an iconic 100ft tall round tower are all contained within this historic centre of learning in the Wicklow Mountains. The highly picturesque surroundings are a popular destination for hikers, featuring glacial mountains and valleys and extensive marshlands. Glendalough’s two lakes are peaceful and atmospheric, a real taste of the ancient origins of this beautiful country.

3. Powerscourt
The 18th century Georgian mansion at the centre of the huge Powerscourt estate offers a glance at landowners’ old ways of life, as well as housing a popular department store and a coffee shop with some incredible views. The 50-odd acre estate includes numerous gardens (including Italian and Japanese themes, and a terrace with a view over a large lake) and Powerscourt waterfall, Irelands tallest at 400ft, which also features in a prominent painting in Dublin’s national portrait gallery.

4. Malahide Castle
Dating back to the 12th century, Malahide’s spectacular castle contains enough impressive paintings, furniture and paneled walls and ceilings to keep antiques aficionados busy all day. For the rest of us, it’s fascinating history (including the day members of the former-owner’s family ate breakfast in the castle, then rode out to battle never to return) provides ample interest. The 15th century great hall, with its detailed paintings of the battle of Boyne, is particularly impressive.

5. Bram Stoker Dracula Museum
After a fairly tame start, this Dracula museum takes a shocking turn half way round, becoming an adventurous collection of grim animations and frightening twists and turns. The “disorientation tunnel” leaves your head spinning. It’s all in aid of Bram Stoker, a long-deceased, ghoulish local writer that the owners aim to promote. The museum’s located in amongst a sports centre: only in Ireland!

6. Forty-Foot Pool (Sandycove)
Forty-foot hole is exactly what it sounds like. Ireland’s most famous outdoor swimming location is on the coast to the south of Dublin, where bathers jump into the freezing cold Irish Sea,  floating over a forty-foot fishing hole, throughout the year. Forty-foot hole used to be a male only location, but now anybody willing to brave the cold is more than welcome. You’d have to be a hardy soul to jump in winter! Bring a thick towel.

7. The Pearse Museum
Padraig Pearse was the leader of 1916’s Easter Uprising, when he unsuccessfully declared Irish independence from the UK. He was executed. This later lead to a successful bid for independence, and Pearse is still held in high regard today. The Pearse museum is located in what was his nationalist school in Etna Park, and celebrates all aspects of his life, focusing especially on his earlier achievements and upbringing. The surrounding parkland is also a beautiful area full of waterfalls and walled gardens.

8. Glasnevin Cemetery
Few places groan with the weight of national symbolism the way that Glasnevin Cemetery does. Founded by nationalist leader Daniel O’Connell in 1832, it has since become the burial place of a huge number of politicians, artists and soldiers of national note. The rows of Celtic crosses are harrowing and memorable, and a 160ft round tower (built in memory of O’Connell himself) rises over it all.

9. The James Joyce Museum
The Joyce Museum is set in a coastal tower built to guard Ireland from Napoleon, and rented to the great man in the early 1900s. He stayed only a week, but the tower later featured strongly in his masterpiece “Ulysses”. The museum contains a thorough record of Joyce’s life, including a host of first additions and rooms recreated how he described them. The gun platform on the roof offers panoramic views of Dublin Bay.

10. Bray
Bray’s rustic seafront and shingle beach bring in the crowds during the summer, hosting Jazz festivals and celebrating the birth of Oscar Wilde over the course of the summer. The amusement arcades full of penny-shove machines and fish and chip shops do a roaring trade, and the national sealife centre is also a big draw. The centre is conservation focused, and displays numerous well laid out tanks containing, amongst others - sharks and piranhas.