Don’t you just love it when something new comes out on a topic that you’re interested in, and it’s like nothing that has been done before? That’s how I felt when I saw Pól O Conghaile’s new book, Secret Dublin – An Unusual Guide, hit the bookshelves. The book offers to take you off the beaten path, and helps you find and explore some of Dublin’s lesser known tourist attractions. Pól has turned up some truly remarkable and very unusual places.
Pól, Ireland’s best known travel writer who contributes to the likes of The Irish Independent, The Irish Examiner and National Geographic Traveller, put the finishing touches on the book recently, and it came out just in time for the 2014 travel season. I got in touch with Pól to find out a little more about the book. Read what he has to say below. I think you might agree that the book is going to have a big impact on how people explore Dublin in the coming months/years.
Did you have any particular audience in mind when you set out to write the book?
From the outset, I was determined to make Secret Dublin as useful to locals as visitors. I wasn’t interested in yet another guidebook hailing the Book of Kells, the Guinness Storehouse and Dublin Zoo. I wanted to get everyone off the traditional tourist grid.
“An Unusual Guide” – Was there any one place that you would say stood out as most unusual?
All of the inclusions are quirky in their own way, but one of my favourites is the Museum Flat at the Iveagh Trust on Patrick Street. The place is a time capsule – a tiny flat preserved more or less exactly as it was when the last tenants arrived in 1915. An old Lambert Range is still set with newspaper for kindling; crucifixes and Infants of Prague line the walls. It’s brilliantly atmospheric.
Was Ireland’s capital an automatic choice for the book, or do you think we may see a “Secret Cork/Galway: An Unusual Guide” some day?
Secret Dublin: An Unusual Guide is part of a global series of guidebooks, published by Jonglez. Other cities include Amsterdam, New York, Paris and London, but Dublin is the first Irish destination to make the grade. I’d love to do Cork – I’ll just have to pitch the idea!
For anyone picking up a copy of your book who is new to Dublin, what’s your advice for ‘best’ time of year to visit?
The best months to visit Dublin are May, June, September and October. They offer the best windows for half-decent weather, and dodging the peak summer season also means shorter queues at the big attractions cheaper hotel rates.
The book is 250+ pages correct? Did you have to dig deep in the libraries of Dublin to find all the places?
Secret Dublin is approaching 290 pages, and though I dug deep into the backstreets, archives and libraries of the city in my trawl for unusual inclusions, there’s loads more stuff that could make a future edition. Now that the book is out there, it has taken on a life of its own – readers are emailing and tweeting me with suggestions of hidden gems they feel I’ve overlooked. Secret Dublin 2.0 is already in the works!
Being a popular face in Irish tourism did you get any special access to the places in the book, or are they all accessible to the public?
All of the inclusions are accessible to the public. That was one of our starting criteria – we didn’t want to disappoint readers by detailing amazing places they could never hope to see. Some – such as the Royal College of Physicians or the Museum Flat – require appointments, but most have very doable opening hours. I do hope Secret Dublin encourages readers to get out and explore their city!
Sounds pretty cool, right? And it is. I can’t wait to get back out on the streets of Dublin, guidebook in hand, and explore some of the places I’d have never found otherwise. The book has maps and color photographs throughout, and is sectioned nicely to allow you explore an area at a time. Don’t worry about finding the attractions, they’re all nicely pinpointed for you on the maps.
The book can be bought online on Amazon.com here, and don’t forget to stop by Pól’s super informative blog for more Ireland, and worldwide, travel advice and tourist tips.
****competition now closed***
I’m really excited to host a giveaway for this book! Like I mentioned above, I was in touch with Pól a couple of weeks back, and he kindly sent me 2 copies to give away to readers of the blog. Thanks Pól! Whether you’re a local or a tourist, I think this book is going to be a huge hit!
Here’s how to win…
Just leave a comment below with your details. If you’ve been to Dublin, I’d love to hear what places stood out most for you, or maybe you can even offer up a suggestion for An Unusual Guide 2.0. Never been to Dublin? That’s ok too. Just tell us what you’re looking forward to seeing/doing most when you get there some day.
You’re last chance to enter is this Wednesday (Jan 29th), so get your name in the hat now.
Best of luck!
And the lucky winners are…
Tari Bramlett & Declan Tierney 🙂
Thank you to everyone who entered to win, and of course to Pól for generously handing over 2 copies of this fine Dublin city guide book. Enjoy!