Rathmines needs no introduction, flat dwellers from the four corners of the country have passed through its bedsits and converted Georgian redbrick flats. If you didn’t spend your student days in a dive in Rathmines at some stage you probably woke up on the floor of one, at the very least.
Rathmines is a somewhat eclectic mix of takeaways and thrift shops sitting side by side with historic buildings, iconic pubs and a wide selection cafés and restaurants. Somewhere between a village and a suburb, despite its reputation as ‘flatland’ it is in fact home to much affluence and a strong community.
Its accessibility and affordability saw Rathmines voted “Ireland’s Best Suburb To Live In” by The Irish Times in 2012. Most people know Rathmines, yet they know very little of its long history, stretching back before the Norman Invasion. Nor of some of its best kept secrets. Here are our top 10 tips; things you might not know about Rathmines and places you might not have been:
Bark Café in Hannas Bookshop
Up to recently Rathmines had been strangely lacking in cafés. However, the addition of the Natural Bakery, the Orange Tree Bakery and Starbucks has boosted the café scene here. Perhaps the most interesting option of all is Bark Café in Alan Hanna’s bookshop. Buy a book in the shop and tackle the first few chapters in this cosy snug.
Leinster Cricket Grounds
The Leinster Cricket Club is one of the oldest in the world. Apparently in times past the club was also the home to Rathmines’ most famous disco. The disco is no longer running but the beautifully maintained cricket grounds are still there, tucked away between the Main Street and Mountpleasant Avenue. The only entrance is via the narrow Observatory Lane, helping to keep this secret under wraps.
Upper Rathmines Road
Another way to get some fresh air is to wander up to the top of Upper Rathmines Road, towards the beautiful Victorian piles of Palmerston Park and Palmerston Road. The latter was the home of Sean Lemass, who was known to wander down on a Saturday evening to the now defunct Stella Cinema.
Connollys Fish Shop
While you’re there pop into Connolly’s Fish Shop, also on Upper Rathmines Road. Some people can live in Rathmines for years before they discover this gem. One of Dublin’s best fish shops, Connollys is a family business, where you’ll find superb seafood, fresh fish and daily specials. They’ll throw a free lemon in if you’re nice. It’s that kind of place.
The Dome at The Church Of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners
The magnificent green copper dome of Rathmines’ main church is reminiscent of the much more famous ‘Berliner Dom’, the huge green domed roof at Berlin’s Cathedral. While Berlin’s Dom stands alone in an open space, the church in Rathmines is surrounded by tall residential buildings. Poor town planning means this imposing structure can actually be easy to miss. Walk around the back of the church to Mountpleasant Avenue to get a better view.
Corrigans (or the Mountpleasant Inn)
While you’re there pop into one of Rathmines’ oldest but lesser known pubs. Think of Rathmines and you’re more likely to think of Rody Bolands or Slatterys, but if it’s a quiet pint with the locals you’re after then it’s Corrigans you need.
Two generations of the Slattery family have been at the helm of this traditional boozer. Famous for the quality of its pints and, somewhat surprisingly, for its music performances. Traditionally this was Rathmines’ go-to venue for jazz and blues sessions and to this day its upstairs bar is still the place to go for great live music.
Hidden away on the lane beside Slatterys is one of Rathmines’ best restaurants. Little Jerusalem is serving authentic Middle Eastern cuisine made from fresh ingredients. It’s BYO too so you’re in for some good value.
The Cathal Brugha Barracks just off Rathmines main thoroughfare is the HQ for the Army’s 2nd Brigade. It’s a little known fact that the Barracks has a visitor centre. Military artefacts on display here include Michael Collins’ Colt 45 pistol. It’s open on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10am to 12.30pm.
William Clegg is the fifth generation of the Clegg shoe making family. Back in the day Cleggs’ biggest queues would be on a Saturday evening, ensuring the population of Rathmines were well shod for Sunday Mass. These days William Clegg is just as likely to be resoling a pair of Louboutins but his Rathmines’ store still retains its traditional, old wordly feel.