While we won't all be able to cheer on the Fighting Irish from inside Aviva Stadium on September first, tens of thousands of Notre Dame fans will be boarding flights to Dublin this week; many others, of course, already reside in Ireland, and for them, the journey won't be so long.
For those of you making the trip, and for all who may one day visit Dublin, we have a guide to the city for you - tips on what to eat, drink, see, and do while on the emerald isle. This is serious stuff: we've got no fewer than 15 pub recommendations for you, all courtesy of a genuine Dubliner.
Dublin Domer Emmet Ryan has graciously offered to give us an insider's guide to the city our Fighting Irish and their fans will call home this game week.
Dublin Domer Emmet Ryan's Guide to the City
Welcome to my hometown, Fighting Irish fans. There's lots to do, so let's get to it. Note that none of these places pay me, so feel free to namedrop my Twitter handle, @action81, on the off chance they feel in the mood to provide me with free stuff. A blogger's got to eat!
Feel free to tweet me with any specific questions or requests. I love my city, but I'll be honest about it too.
WHERE TO DRINK
Okay, this is the important bit: some of you may have heard that Dublin is known for it's many fine pubs. I don't know who the rest of you are and I don't want to. Depending on what you're into, there're lots of options. If you're desperate for a good pint of Guinness, the best place in the city is Kehoe's on South Anne Street. It's usually packed and the Duke, around 100 yards away, does just as good a pint.
You may have been told to go to Temple Bar, but honestly, you're best off staying out of there except for the tailgate on Saturday. It's a tourist trap and you'll be paying for everything through the nose. There is one exception, and that's the Porter House there which has a great selection of beers, ales, and stouts from across the world, including several of their own brews.
It's sister pub, the Porter House Central on Nassau Street, however, is your better bet, as that's near several pubs that are supporting Dublin's thriving craft brewing scene. O'Neill's on Suffolk Street does a broad selection of local beers and all the mainstream favourites, too. If you want the best of the best of craft beer, then you've got two great options. Against the Grain on Camden Street is superb and its sister pub, The Brew Dock on Amiens Street, will be a good option for those of you staying on the north side of the city.
If you're looking to party, well, the top option on your list is Copper Faced Jacks. It's hugely popular with students, nurses, teachers, and gardaí (Irish cops). Everyone calls it Coppers and it's located on Harcourt Street. It's an experience everyone should do once. The queues are long, but they move fast.
On gameday, there are a few good options near the stadium. For those of you in the North stand your best bet is Murray's on Bath Avenue. If you're in the East, West, or South stands the options are a lot more promising. Drink in Ballsbridge - it's only a 7 or 8 minute walk to the stadium from there and there are more pubs to choose from. Paddy Cullen's is a personal favourite but Crowe's, Bellamy's, and the Horse Show House are all good options in the area.
WHERE TO EAT
Things have come a long way in Ireland when it comes to dining options since the Fighting Irish last came to Dublin in 1996, but there's also a long way to go as well.
One man has done more than most to raise the standard, a local dude called Joe Macken. Jo'Burger on Castle Market* serves the best burgers in the city without question. Crackbird on Dame Street is king of chicken in the city while Bear on South William Street does brilliant steak. Both Jo'Burger and Crackbird offer some interesting sides while the million dollar fries in Bear are a must.
*Nobody in Dublin knows the name of this street, so if you just ask people where "Jo'Burger in town" is they'll know. The original restaurant is out in Rathmines which is about a 30 minute walk from the city centre, so you don't want to bother heading out that far.
Mexican food is simply awful; however, if it's burritos you're after, there is some salvation. Pablo Picante on the corner of Pembroke Street and Baggot Street is the undisputed king on the local burrito scene. Nearer the stadium, Tolteca is a solid choice at the junction of Waterloo Road and Baggot Street.
The best area for Chinese food in Dublin is Parnell St. It's a long street that cuts across O'Connell St, the main street on the north side of the city. It's really hit or miss, but the one way to know if a place is good is if you see many Chinese people eating there. If you do, it's worth checking out. If you don't, keep on walking. The best Asian restaurant in Dublin is Saba on Clarendon Street. It's very popular, so book ahead.
If you're feeling ironic, the local rip-off of Johnny Rockets is called Eddie Rockets and there's a good few of these around the city. If it's more local brand junk food you want, Supermac's and Abrakebabra are Ireland's two biggest home-grown fast food chains. They are still just as unhealthy as their multinational counterparts. For the best kebabs try out Ishkanders on Dame Street.
If you are willing to go further afield, hop on the DART (suburban rail service) and go to Howth where there's a great selection of seafood restaurants. King Sitric is expensive but worth it; just be sure to book a table. Aqua on the pier is a solid second option.
Coffee lovers have some great options. 3fe on Grand Canal Street is only a 10 minute walk from Aviva Stadium and a good option to start you off on gameday. The Twisted Pepper on Abbey Street is run by the same people and will be of more use while sightseeing. The Bald Barista on Aungier Street is another good option. Oh, and yes, we have a ton of Starbucks, including one in Ballsbridge, so you can get your fix before kick off.
WHAT TO SEE
Again, you've got pub crawls and the usual tourist trap lark, but fortunately for everyone, I've mostly dated girls from overseas, so ended up doing all the sights in Dublin. Trinity College is the one architecturally interesting campus in the city (and I say this as a graduate of both of Dublin's other universities) and worth a stroll around. If you walk into the Pavilion bar, take a beer outside and sit on the cricket pitch.
The Viking Splash tour is the tackiest looking but by far the best sightseeing tour in the city. The guides are excellent and you get to wear silly Viking hats (Dublin was settled by Vikings in 988 AD). Again, book early as they are quite popular. I'd advise taking this tour before most other sightseeing options as the guides will give you some good advice on places to check out.
The Dublinia exhibit at Christchurch Cathedral opened in 1988 and was meant to be a one year celebration of Dublin's Viking heritage. It proved so popular that it remains open 24 years later. Outside of the free options, of which there are many, this is one of the cheapest sights in the city and you can take in the cathedral, as well, where Strongbow is buried.
There are a lot of free things to do in Dublin. The National History Museum at Collins' Barracks could keep you occupied for a whole day and it's free. Get the red line Luas (tram system) to Museum to go there. Despite being a relatively small city, the National Gallery, off Merrion Sq. West, has an impressive collection of art. Glasnevin Cemetary is resting place to many of Ireland's historic figures. It's free in, but you're better off paying extra and taking a tour.
If it's shopping you're after, then Grafton Street is the main option in the city centre, while the mall du jour at the moment is Dundrum Shopping Centre. Take the green line Luas to Balally to go there.
Finally, Croke Park is the other and bigger stadium (capacity 82,300) in the city. It's the home of the GAA, which governs Gaelic Football and Hurling. The tour and museum there are both worth doing and you can now walk on top of the stadium; just don't try it on Sunday as there's a big game on.
Dublin is a great city, but it was never planned; everything sprouted up by chance. As a result, getting directions may seem arduous at times - "you take the sorta left and then a kinda right" - but you'll get the hang of things pretty quickly.
Several bus stops feature displays indicating when a bus is due. Sometimes these displays are accurate, very often they are not. The Luas (trams), and this goes for both lines, is tremendously reliable to the point that I decided where my last two apartments were based on their proximity to Luas stops. The Dart (local rail) is hit or miss. On weekdays you shouldn't be waiting too long. On Saturdays you can expect a long wait. On Sundays you're better off walking.
Taxis aren't too expensive, just be sure to get one at the front of a queue if it's at a rank. Oh - and seeing as you're accents might give the game away, here is your cover story to avoid being taken on a cumbersome route and paying an exorbitant fare: you live in Blackrock, off the Rock Road, and you moved here because you work for Google.
For the most part, walking will suffice in Dublin. It's an easy city to get around on foot.
OTHER SPORTS TO CHECK OUT
It's a big weekend for sport in the city. The All-Ireland Gaelic Football Semi-Final between Dublin and Mayo is in Croke Park is on Sunday the 2nd. Tickets will be hard to get but you might get lucky at the official ticket office on Dorset Street on game day.
Soccer fans may want to check out a League of Ireland game while over here. The standard is slightly below MLS and it's typically €15 in. There are two games in the city on Friday, August 31. UCD play Bray Wanderers in the Belfield Bowl, which is on the Stillorgan Road. Shelbourne play Derry City the same evening in Tolka Park, which is in Drumcondra. If you are staying through to Monday, there's a game in Richmond Park, Inchicore (which can be reached on the red line Luas) between title-chasing St Pat's and Derry City.
Finally, there are lots of activities being organised on game day, but you'll obviously want to get in and out of the stadium and have a good time. If you go to the tailgate in Temple Bar, allow an hour to walk to Aviva Stadium. There are shuttle busses, but traffic along a narrow and mostly two-lane road won't be pretty. It should only take 45 minutes walking to get there, but give the extra time just to be safe.
I've mentioned the best places for drinking and coffee in the area already. There are catering services inside the stadium, and yes, they do serve beer. If you are getting the Dart to or from the game expect crowds, huge, ridiculous crowds.
If you're still reading, congratulations. I am on hand on Twitter @action81 to answer all of your queries between now and game day.
Our hearty thanks to Emmet Ryan for sharing Dublin with us. Safe and celebratory travels to all those making the trip to Ireland to see Notre Dame take the field against Navy to kick off the 2012 season.