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My gay Dublin: Aifric Chriodain on Ireland’s most charming, cheerful city

My gay Dublin: Aifric Chriodain on Ireland’s most charming, cheerful city

I’ve lived here since… I was born – I’m a true ‘Dub’!

Dublin’s best-kept secret is… Vintage Cocktail Club. It’s behind a black unmarked door in Temple Bar – ring the bell and it’s a gorgeous three-storey speakeasy-type-place with a huge cocktail menu.

My favorite queer bar has to be… Mother on Saturdays. It has the best DJs and the coolest regulars of any gay night in town. The best time to go is around 1am; cover is €10 and the club stays open until 4 (most clubs in Dublin shut at 3). I’d also recommend Panti Bliss’s famous Pantibar. The drag show starts at half 9-10pm and features Panti and guests, and is packed out every week. Cheap drinks and great buzz means Pantibar is unmissable of a Saturday.

My favourite place to people-watch is… Grogan’s and Pygmalion on South William Street have big smoking areas and are great for spotting hipsters. For a more traditional Irish vibe try the Stag’s Head.

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I shop at… Dublin’s vintage shops. Tahiti in Georges Street Arcade is super cute and good value, as is the Dublin Vintage Factory on South William Street. Post-payday, I head to Indigo+Cloth for beautiful designer clothes. When funds are low, you do the Georges Street Mile up to Aungier Street and go through the charity shops for excellent value.

For date night, I head to… The Woolen Mills on the quays is a nice spot for lunch or dinner, and offers quirky takes on traditional Irish food. Super Miss Sue on Drury Street does gorgeous seafood and excellent chips, and Musashi has the best sushi in town. Rustic Stone on Georges Street is great for salads and superfoods, all curated by top chef Dylan McGrath.

For a cheap eat I head to… Bear on South William St – it’s gay-owned, and perfect if you like steak. The same team also have a gourmet fried chicken place called Crackbird on Dame Street, a gourmet burger restaurant called Jo’Burger, and a cutesy pizza place, Skinflint. If you like Mexican, hit up 777 for the Sunday brunch where all dishes and cocktails cost €7.77.

Dublin’s best building is undoubtedly… The IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art [below]. A fabulous selection of art in a gorgeous Georgian setting, surrounded by impeccably-curated gardens.

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Here in Dublin, we always look forward to… Pride, obviously. The second last weekend of June sees the city crowded with happy gays drinking and partying for at least three days at a go. Paddy’s Day is a quiet one for Dubliners – we go local.

For culture, you can’t miss… The National Gallery, which boasts some great homegrown art from the likes of Jack Butler Yeats, along with incredible pieces such as Caravaggio’s Last Supper. Dublin Zoo is actually great at the moment; there are new baby lions and elephants to check out. It’s a bit pricey but funds go towards conservation and education!

The most romantic place in Dublin is… Merrion Square, a gorgeous city centre park with meandering paths and acres of history. Or for a post-night out smooch, head to the Samuel Beckett Bridge [below] for beautiful sunset views.

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For a day trip, I head to… Howth, just half an hour out of the city centre. It’s really worth it, a lovely little port town. Climb the beautiful Howth Head, then head for fish and chips at Caffé Caira. Grab a cone from Maud’s Ice Cream Parlour and then pints at the Bloody Stream before heading back to town. Or a BYOB dinner at the Doghouse Blues Tea Room, one of my favourite places in Ireland!

I’d take a Dublin virgin to… Izakaya on George’s Street, a really cool Japanese bar with gorgeous cocktails and Asian beers. We’d cross the road to San Lorenzo‘s for a nice Italian dinner and then buzz over to The George for one. We’d hit up Bowes Lounge for a traditional Dublin pint, and then head to the Twisted Pepper for a dance! Bar With No Name on Fade Street is also pretty trendy, but on a sunny day get to the Pav in Trinity College for dirt-cheap pints in the sunshine.

LGBTI people in Dublin always look forward to…  This year one of the biggest nights will be the 23 May, when we get the result of our marriage equality referendum. There’ll be huge parties all over town and (fingers crossed) all the gays will be on a great buzz! It coincides perfectly with Eurovision so it’s essentially the Gay New Year. Not to be missed!

Words: Aifric Chriodain