Dublin is like a Christmas card, says New York Times

Capital described as a ‘newly energised city’ with a ‘literary spirit’ where Bono busks

Dublin is a "newly energised city" with "an abundance of artisan offerings" and "literary spirit", according to a New York Times journalist living in the capital.

Ratha Tep, a freelance journalist from New York who moved to Dublin last August, has described Dublin as "a Christmas card" in a seasonal travel piece for the newspaper's Frugal Traveller column.

“What I found was a newly energized [sic] city rich not only with jovial cheer, but also an abundance of artisan offerings and a creative, literary spirit,” writes Tep.

She describes the St Stephen’s Green Christmas market with its 60 vendors in wooden chalets and “throngs of revellers sipping warm brandy-spiked punch out of plastic flutes”, accompanied by “Louis Armstrong’s gravelly voice” booming from the speakers.


Nearby, “dazzling rows of white chandelier-style Christmas lights” illuminate Grafton Street with the city’s buskers adding electric energy to the atmosphere.

She advises readers to hang around on Christmas Eve to catch a glimpse of "hometown rock star Bono" who in recent years has joined other local musicians such as Glen Hansard, Damien Rice and Lisa Hannigan to raise money busking for Dublin's Simon Community.

Tep also gives a detailed description of Dublin’s top spots to warm up in with some tasty grub on a winter’s afternoon. On her culinary explorations she visits the Temple Bar weekend food market in Meeting House Square, drinks a flat white in Kaph on Drury Street and feasts on a braised pork sandwich from the recently opened Woollen Mills restaurant by the Ha’penny Bridge.

She tops it off with a browse around the Winding Stair bookshop, “one of the oldest independent bookstores remaining in the city”, followed by a pot of tea while soaking in the “singular smell of a roomful of books and calming creak of old wooden floorboards”.

Her budget tour around Dublin city also includes a stop off at the National Gallery of Ireland, a dance performance at the Project Arts Centre, and a lunchtime play in Bewley's Café Theatre on Grafton Street.

It looks like Ratha Tep is more than happy to be living in Dublin “with its ivy-swathed Georgian buildings, winding cobblestone side streets and amiable spirit”.

Her article follows the New York Times' 36 Hours in Dublin video which was released in November and features the top spots to visit in the capital.

This recent American media travel coverage of Dublin is expected to add to the rising numbers of tourists visiting the State. Tourism Ireland reported earlier this month that figures for 2013 are on target to reach 7.3 million, up 8.8 per cent on last year.

The organisation expects 7.74 million visitors to come to Ireland in 2015, surpassing the previous record year of 2007, and 6 per cent more than came this year.

The amount of money spent by overseas tourists is also set to rise, reaching €3.7 billion this year, up almost 11 per cent on last year, while next year’s spending is expected to hit almost €4 billion.

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak

Sorcha Pollak is an Irish Times reporter and cohost of the In the News podcast