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10 Hidden Gems in the heart of Dublin’s Liberties

  • Needful Things: Books, Collectibles and Antiques 

A treasure trove is really the only way to describe this hidden gem. Opened in mid 2018 by Trinity graduate John Healy, there is something for everyone in here; although you may have to hunt for it. Located on busy Aungier Street, you’ll be in awe once you step inside this secondhand bookshop that also offers a range of antiques including maps and some elegant pieces of furniture. You could find a copy of one of your favourite page turners for a few euro or you could invest in an early edition of one of the classics. 

John McGeever, owner of Needful things. Photo by Megan O’ Brien.
  • Marsh’s Library

There aren’t many buildings left from the 18th century in Dublin that are still used for their original purpose. Marsh’s Library however, is one of these and is busier than every with events and workshops happening every week. Founded by Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, the library houses at St Patrick’s Close right next to St. Patrick’s Cathedral, the library is now a charity that still serves as a public resource for research and education. They have a catalog of hundreds of beautiful books and a reading room where you can browse them free of charge

  •  Groundstate Coffee

A little cafe on the corner of a busy street in the Liberties. It looks relatively plain from the outside but that’s not reflected in the atmosphere once you step through the door. A relaxed, welcoming place, during the day Groundstate Coffee on James’ Street  is a great spot for a weekend brunch or bite to eat in the afternoon. By night, it is a yoga studio offering yoga classes of all styles for all levels of ability. 

  •  Atelier Maser

Irish Artist Maser is known for his bright and bold pieces, the most prolific one probably being the ‘Repeal the 8th’ mural on Georges Street which was painted in the run up to Ireland’s abortion referendum last year. Although the mural was painted over, Maser himself as gone from strength to strength opening his own studio gallery in December 2018 on Charlemont Street. It’s here that the artist expresses himself onto his canvas but it’s also here that young Irish talent is being nurtured and promoted. The space is open plan and multi-functional allowing it to lend itself to many different shows and exhibitions.

  • Bretzel Bakery

The Bretzel Bakery on Lennox Street is a special spot also known as the Jewish Bakery. Established in 1870, they have been “baking in the heart of Dublin for over 100 years”, they are famous for their “challah”, a special braided, Jewish bread, that is still baked with the same recipe as the one they used in the 19th century. 

  • Brown Bag Film

Brown Bag Films are an animation studio in Smithfield in Dublin’s Liberties that create animation for the international market. They have branches in Toronto, Manchester and Bali but Brown Bag was founded in 1944 right here in Dublin. Since then they have won 18 Emmy awards and have been nominated for an Oscar twice! Peter Rabbit, Doc McStuffins and Noddy are just a few of their famous creations. Although the studio is not open to the public, you can see what they do on their showreel and get involved in other ways at their YouTube Channel ‘Brown Bag Films’. 

  • The Kevin Kavanagh Gallery 

The Kevin Kavanagh Gallery on Chancery Lane is a great place to visit to see a variety of amazing, thought-provoking works. The Gallery plays host to new exhibitions nearly every month and variation is the name of the game here. They carry shows from single artists as well as groups, paintings, portraits, mixed material pieces, photography and some sculpture too. 

  • The Garda Museum 

On the periphery of the Liberties but still just a 10-minute walk from Thomas Street, the Garda Museum and Archives located at Dublin Castle is unknown to many Dubliners. Open from 10am-2pm Monday to Friday, the exhibition gives visitors an understanding of the interesting history of An Garda Siochana. It also offers information on policing in Ireland prior to 1922 when the law was enforced by the Royal Irish Constabulary who’s policing was so effective it influenced many other police systems around the world.

  • The Revenue Museum

Also housed in Dublin Castle, the Revenue Museum may sound boring at first but you might surprise yourself if you venture down into the crypt of the Chapel Royal and take a look at the wide range of exhibits. The Revenue Commission has a huge amount of different responsibilities which you’ll gain an insight into through colourful audio-visual displays, interactive video games and fun challenges. Among the exhibits are artefacts such as a stamp duty machine, the first set of exchequer returns for the Irish Free State, a poitin stil, counterfeit goods and endangered species seized at Irish ports and airports and early computer technology.

 Copper House Gallery

The Copper House Gallery, hidden away near Heytesbury Street, is a place that does more than just display works of art. While they do host exhibits of every type from collage to watercolour painting to landscape photography and socio-political displays they have a lot of other things happening too. The Copper House is the longest established fine art printing studio in Ireland, every wonder where original artworks and artefacts get digitised, preserved and archived? This is where. They have rare devices such as ‘Cruse Scanners’ which are owned by institutions like the Guggenheim in New York and the Vatican Secret Archives.

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