The Liberties embodies old Dublin. As one of the city’s oldest and most historic neighbourhoods, it’s referred to by many as the heart of the city. The winding, cobblestone roads tell as much a story as the name itself. In the 12th century, a royal abbey was established and given land in Dublin, Meath, and Wicklow counties. Some of that land, however, maintained its own jurisdiction, and the monks of the Abbey were able to conduct trade and commerce at their liberty. Long after these “liberties” were abolished in the 19th century, the area remains “The Liberties” neighbourhood we know today.
But perhaps the area’s biggest claim to fame arrived in the 18th century, when Arthur Guinness built his iconic brewery at St. James’s Gate--a prominent Liberties attraction to this day thanks to that 9,000-year-old lease.
The Liberties has a lot to offer in its old age, and the more Dubliners become hip to its historical charm, the more desirable it’s become. The area has experienced a revival that brought with it an influx of new, hip cafes and restaurants as well as a thriving tech and media hub. This, along with its ideal central location, makes The Liberties an exciting place to live.
The Liberties is a neighbourhood that roughly covers the area from St. Patrick’s Cathedral to St. James’s Gate. Located on the edge of city centre and a short drive to the M50, it’s in the mix without getting too loud, allowing you to hit snooze a few times before your short commute to work. It’s handy to get around by foot or cycling, especially with plenty of dublin bike stations around the area, but The Liberties is also serviced by public transportation in all directions, with several nearby bus, train, dublinbike, and LUAS stops.
From The Liberties, it’s just a short walk to the lively Temple Bar area, the River Liffey, the Dublin Castle, and the Grafton Street shopping district. Take a leisurely stroll down Thomas and Meath streets for street stall bargains or hit up Francis Street for antique finds.
Two Pups is a Francis Street staple offering yummy food (read: out-of-this-world avocado toast and possibly Dublin's finest toastie) and tasty coffee. We’re not sure which is more aesthetically pleasing: the stylish interior or the snarky loyalty cards.
Not to be overlooked is Legit Coffee Co. The hip, minimalistic decor and the breakfast and lunch options are as legit as the coffee.
Weaver Park is the newest addition to The Liberties’ park scene after the long-standing St. Patrick’s Park. It’s got a seriously substantial playground and a green space for all ages. Did we mention it also has a skate park?
Of course, you can always run or cycle along the LIffey, but there are plenty of gyms, like Iveagh Fitness Club and St James’s Gate Health & Fitness Club, that offer a wide range of equipment and classes from spin, yoga, and Pilates to pool-based classes, among others. For a more relaxed scene, there’s Estelle Birdy Yoga and Yoga Kitchen above Two Pups.
Fumbally is a must for brunch (and they recently started serving dinner on Wednesdays). Do yourself a favour and go, if not for the wonderfully experimental menu then definitely for its mismatched yet perfectly cool decor.
At The Riddler, you’ll find everything from a full Irish breakfast to an impressive wine list. Bonus: the riddles all over the walls make this a great first-date spot. (Bye, awkward silences!)
Try the bright and inviting Tasty 8, if you’re looking to chill. Perfect for coffee or a healthy meal, these guys are proud of their fresh, local ingredients and gluten-free, vegan, and vegetarian options. Of course, you can’t go wrong with a sandwich at Mannings Bakery or a treat at Dublin Cookie Co. to curb your sweet tooth.
The Liberties has plenty of great spots for a pint, and what better place to start than The Thomas House, an edgy bar and venue with excellent taste in music? Or how about pizza and a pint for €12 at Lucky’s?
For the beer snobs, The Beer Market’s selection is next-level, offering limited releases and rarities. On the other hand, if it’s cocktails you’re after, try the BYO Cocktails option at Drop Dead Twice. You bring the liquor. They bring the magic.
With all this talk of history, how could we not include The Brazen Head? Located on the edge of The Liberties, it’s the oldest pub in Ireland--dating back to 1198--and has hosted an impressive list of patrons over the years, from James Joyce to Michael Collins.
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Vicar Street is one of Dublin’s beloved music and comedy venues. The shows are intimate, maxing out at a capacity of about 1,000-1,500, but you can hear some tunes in an even more intimate setting at either Arthur’s or Kennedys.
There’s also the Tivoli for the night owls … because you can never have enough live music.
The Liberties’ trading roots run deep, as evident in its being home to one of the city’s longest running markets, Liberty Market, on Meath Street. Marsh’s Library, is another one of Dublin’s oldest and offers picturesque rows of original oak bookcases holding thousands of rare books. If you can peel your eyes away from the books, head over to Urban Plant Life where you can grab a coffee from the in-house cafe and chill on the balcony before scoring some cool new houseplants.
We’d be remiss if we didn’t acknowledge the Guinness Storehouse. Let’s face it: You’re not going here every weekend, but the Sky Bar offers incredible, 360-degree views of the city, while new additions to the self-guided tour include live traditional music, exclusive tastings, and Irish dancers.
DwellDown on The Liberties
Average Rent: €1,150 (2 bed)
Public Transport: Dublin Bus (Stations: #1939 - Thomas Street [St. Catherine's Lane], #1998 - Thomas Street [St. Catherine's Lane]), dublinbikes (Stations: High Street, Francis Street, James Street, John Street West, Market Street South, Oliver Bond Street, St. James’s Hospital), train (Heuston Station), LUAS (Stations: Rialto, James, Heuston)
Popular with: Students, Young Professionals
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