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A remarkable ‘off-the-beaten-path’ Dublin City Guide Book

Dublin City Guide Book

Secret Dublin, An Unusual Guide (Cover)

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.

The Giveaway

****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!


  1. I’ve never been to Ireland, let alone Dublin. My dream trip is to visit Ireland someday and take in as many sights as possible.

  2. We’re planning a trip to Ireland early next year and I’m very excited! My oldest sister is going for the genealogy. My middle sister is going for the sights – and I’m going for that feeling of continuity and connection that comes with walking the same paths that my grandparents did. I am a fan of off-the-beaten-path adventures and will have a great time exploring Dublin. That’s one of the reasons I’d love to win the book!

  3. Hello Liam,

    I am back from a lovely long weekend in Dublin, actually it was Malahide. I love the Irish set dance and am a passionate dancer of this Irish art. In Malahide we have danced from Friday evening till Sunday afternoon. With friends from Italy, Japon, Germany and France; but also with nice local and homecoming ladies. These are usually the best guides and I had a wonderful cliff walk at Howth. The weather was great last Monday and the company was very nice.
    Now waiting for summer; in July we will spent three weeks, travelling around from Dublin to Shannonbridge -to see friends again- and Oranmore to dance with friends we know for more as 8 years. Probably to Spanish Point for a last dance and enjoy again to be with friends.
    Then to the south and explore the fortifications against the “French invaders” build around 1800 and 1900. I very nice tool is http://www.osi.ie ; it shows actual map and maps of 1st quarter of 19th and 20nd century. One of the best tools to prepare trips. I have some nice books (Flemish) about some special not so touristic monuments.And if you stay a few days longer in a b&b, the lady tells you a bit more what to see.
    I am interested in “secret Dublin – an unusual guide” it fits me bookshelf; and uncover some more secrets of the capital

  4. My dream is to live in Ireland. In the meantime, I would love to visit and visit as many places as I could in the time I had!

  5. What a nice treat Liam and thank you Pól, what a terrific idea to beat the tourist traps. I was only to Dublin once but very much look forward to another visit and finding the quirky spots. I love the “oldness” of Dublin, a rich history there to learn. I loved the GPO although I didn’t get to go inside, the columns with the bullet holes were fascinating in themselves. I also loved Kilmainham, a spot I wound up really enjoying. Even in a small city, there is much to see. I think those that want to experience heritage and history need to look for the little things and think outside the box a bit.

  6. Hello Liam,

    I went to Ireland with 3 of my daughters in March of 2013. According to all the delightful people I spoke with it was the worst weather they had ever seen! We had a marvelous time despite the wind, snow & rain, but by the time we got to Dublin I was sick. Thank goodness I made it through the awesome Christ Church, but that was it for me. My girls had a wonderful time exploring & a great dinner while I slept! I will schedule more time in Dublin the next trip & would love one of these guides.

  7. LOVED Dublin last July. Wish we’d had more time to explore, but adored Bewley’s Café on Grafton St., Dublin Castle, Trinity College – Book of Kells, and Guinness Storehouse (didn’t get to make it to Jameson’s, dang it). The Green Bus tour was GREAT!!!!

    Would love a Guide Book to remind me what all I did see, while helping me pick out sights for the next trip.

  8. I have never been but hope to in the next few years. I’m afraid I won’t want to come back home though! 🙂

  9. What a gem of a book this will be for anyone venturing into Dublin. I agree, there is so much more to Dublin than the well-known & well-visited attractions that everyone makes a bee line for, & sure, these attractions must be visited too. But what I love about Pól’s guide book “Secret Dublin” is that it will appeal to not only international tourists but local tourists as well. I spent two full days seeing all the well-known sights of Dublin back in 2012, but you can rest assure next time I visit, I’ll have Pól’s Secret Dublin guide book in hand to experience the more quirky’ nooks & crannies’ of this incredible city.

  10. I have seen a few places in Dublin. I took a walking tour and enjoyed it and the Hop On/ Hop Off bus tour. I would love to see things that are not real touristy. I haven’t spent nearly enough time there yet.

  11. Hello Liam!! Thanks for another chance at a Great Giveaway!! This looks like the perfect City Guide to Dublin….so looking forward to May or June of 2015~~ Daughter and i have been long-distance (Michigan to California) ‘plotting’ our Trip of a Lifetime. We want to see the “Unusual” and off the beaten path places!! Have a wonderful weekend my Irish FB Friend!!

  12. Someday I will make it to Dublin… On the top of my lists (I have several depending on time of year and who I get to go with) are the GPO and Kilmainham Gaol.

  13. I have been to Dublin and was excited to see the GPO with the bullet holes and to walk down O’Connell Street. I was also able to see Trinity College where the Book of Kells resides. And of course, I was excited to tour the Guinness Storehouse – what a treat that was. If I do get to go back, having this guide will help me see a lot of what I missed.

  14. I hope to get to Ireland this year. My first stop will be in Dublin for some genealogy research. Then after a tour, I hope to be able to take a week and visit Sligo, Mayo and Cavan to visit the places my grandparents came from.

  15. I will be in Ireland for the first time in May and will be visiting Dublin. Although officially a “Tourist” I want to get away fro the tourists. Your book will definitely help!

  16. I love the Viking Splash Tours. Also a great idea to hop on a DART and head to Howth to see the seals. Malahide Castle is lovely too.

  17. Would LOVE a copy! Actually tried to buy one from the UK site and was told it was out of print! I am going to Dublin for my birthday 06-10Mar2014. Have been before but I am on a mission to see all the out of ordinary places and sites! This would be the icing on the top of my birthday cake! So looking forward to the entire experience! Please and Thank You!

  18. I married a woman from Ireland in 2005. Since, I have made made six trips, including visits to Dublin, the last in 2007. This July, we will be staying in Dublin and basing our holiday from there. My sister-in-law has recently bought a house in Dublin and is letting us stay there on our visit, so I need to be doing a lot of research on Dublin.

  19. I will be in Dublin in July for my first trip to Ireland, so very excited to see the country of my heritage.

  20. There are plenty of places to visit for free in Dublin. In the summer there is nothing nicer than a visit to the botanic gardens, Ashtown castle, the Iveagh gardens. Lovely gardens bad nice cafés too

  21. I’m from Dublin and love it. There are so many places I’ve never seen in Dublin. I have a lot of friends who live abroad and who always want yo visit somewhere new so this book would be perfect

  22. I got to visit ireland in October of 2012, and can’t wait to come back!! We didn’t get to Dublin, but I might the next time we go! I would love a copy of the book! I love getting off the beaten path!

  23. I haven’t had the joy to visit Dublin yet, but know I will eventually. I would love to learn the history, see as many sights as possible, even learn all the fables and stories. I would love to interact with locals and see if I would be accepted as one of their own, even though I was born and raised in the USA. Can’t wait till that day comes! Love, peace, and happiness to you all!

  24. Have been to Dublin as a ‘tourist’ and enjoyed, but hope to come back to see such unadvertised places as this book tells of. Also look forward to the one about Cork City, as I’ve enjoyed that area. Thank you for providing this Give-Away!

  25. We visited Ireland in 2011. We absolutely loved it. We rented a car and went along the south and east coast. We loved the St. Patrick’s Cathedral we even attended a Sunday worship service. Dublin has very nice people and great attractions to see. We stopped by Saint Stephens Green, but it was raining so didn’t get to see much there. It is our dream to go back on our 10th Anniversary and tour Dublin again. Someday we hope to have a summer cottage there.

  26. We’ll be visiting Ireland again in June, 2014. We would love to see some of the non traditional sites this time.
    Your book would be a wonderful guide. Thank you for doing the research for us.

  27. I always visit Dublin for ‘Open House’ over 100 hundred buildings that are not normally open to the public are open with guided tours. Last year I visited the fruit and vegetable market, Connelly train station and the Dublin port headquarters .
    The history and architecture of the building is explained and you get to see places not normally open to the public. In Connelly train station are the original five lamps.

  28. In the mid 90’s my sister and I traveled to Dublin for 2 nights by bus. We stayed at Trinity college dorm. We left our 4 children with our parents in Galway while we took this side trip. I remember a boat festival that summer with lots of street fairs and concerts. There was little time to sight see however, we did manage to see the Book of Kells and theTemple Bar . Now that the youngest child reached 21, we are hoping to return to Dublin with the entire family and continue to explore Dublin. I think that new Secret Dublin book is a must on our list. Sounds like a great find! Thank you
    Sharon from NY.

  29. I retired last September & two weeks later we were on our way from the US to fulfill a lifelong dream of visiting your beautiful country. We flew in & out of Dublin but didn’t have near enough days to do it justice. What a lovely city and the people are so friendly. We felt safe everywhere we went in Ireland (that is not always the case in the US.). We saw the standard stuff, Christ Church, St. Patricks Cathedral, visited the Pubs & Trinity College. When we travel, we usually like to see things that we just stumble upon off the beaten path. That is how one really learns about the country…not what the tourist boards want you to see but what the locals recommend. We are planning to come back to Ireland at the beginning of June & your book sounds like exactly what we need to really experience the flavor of Dublin.

  30. Hi Liam. This looks a wonderful book. It would add a lot to my wife’s anniversary gift: I’m taking her to Ireland this May. We’ve never been but we are looking forward to seeing everything we have time for.


  31. Mary Ellen Boyer Mack

    I enjoyed seeing the Book of Kells & the rich History of Dublin & Ireland! Can’t wait to come back to Ireland right into Dublin Airport! I would give the world to live in Ireland! Ireland is a little bit of Heaven on Earth! The Irish are the friendliest and most caring & helpful to their visitors! You feel like family when you are there! Are you planning to do a book on Donegal County/Dungloe another hidden gem! Thank you!

  32. i’ve been meaning to check out the flat museum for ages, totally sounds like my kind of place! i don’t think my favourite dublin places are off the beaten track but blackrock market and the dead zoo are personal favourites.
    thank you for the giveaway! xnora