A first visit to a new city would usually warrant a city tour to kick start the exploration. As I was searching for half day tours of Dublin, the Yellow Umbrella Free Walking Tour popped up on my Google search. With many websites recommending it, I booked a slot for this tips-based tour and I certainly didn’t regret it.
The meeting point for all Yellow Umbrella Free Walking Tours is at The Spire, O’Connell Street. This is behind the Jim Larkin Statue, who was one of the founders of the Irish Labour Party, Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, Workers’ Union of Ireland and the Irish Citizen Army (related to both the Dublin Lockout and the Easter Rising).
The Yellow Umbrella tour guide was holding, well, a yellow umbrella at the foot of The Spire. I was originally booked on an 11.00am tour, but since I woke up early, I requested to join in the 9.30am tour instead, and the guide was very accommodating.
Look out for passing trams – don’t stand too far out on to the road.
At 9.30am, the tour moved off from the starting point.
The first stop – General Post Office. (I won’t go into too much description of the place so that I don’t spoil the tour.)
Here, my tour guide, Desmond, had everyone mingle around in pairs to introduce ourselves before the tour proper.
Next, the O’Connell Monument, dedicated to Daniel O’Connell who campaigned for the rights of Catholics to sit in the Westminster Parliament, and repeal of the Acts of Union which combined Great Britain and Ireland.
Waiting to cross the road to O’Connell Bridge.
The O’Connell Bridge spans the River Liffey and is a major link in Dublin City Centre.
The the middle of the bridge, Desmond explains the history of Dublin from The Vikings to the English Kingdom of Ireland and how they landed using the River Liffey.
Looking down at various architectural styles according to the various settlement areas and times.
Also, the O’Connell Bridge is also one of very few bridges that is wider than its span.
Heading down to the Bank of Ireland.
Passing by Trinity College.
A little bit of history about the Bank of Ireland and Trinity College along with the difficulties of rivaling religions to join the college.
The facade of the Bank of Ireland.
Heading down College Green.
The other side of the Bank of Ireland with no windows.
As there was a tax on windows in the past as an alternative to income tax to gauge how much an individual earned, buildings had bricked up spaces in place of windows to avoid paying such taxes.
Heading into Temple Bar.
Learning more about the Rock ‘n’ Roll history here in Temple Bar.
Making a pit stop at Brick Alley Cafe for a coffee and toilet break.
Passing by Meeting House Square with a briefing on what other tours Yellow Umbrella has to offer, along with a €5 promo code to key in on their website for the Traditional Pub Tour which usually costs €25 per person. I won’t share the promo code here – join the free tour to find out.
Continuing on past the National Library.
The City Hall which kind of looks a bit like Singapore’s.
Passing by Lundy Foot’s, a new bar and restaurant which just popped up in Temple Bar. The tour also recommends new independent places for lunch that offer a good experience for tourists.
Entering Fishamble Street.
Under this gate at the Great Music Hall, George Frideric Handel’s Messiah was first premiered on Good Friday, 13 April 1742.
Heading past Darkey Kelly’s, a restaurant and bar. The guide also gave a brief history about Darkey Kelly, who was an Irish brothel-keeper and alleged serial killer.
Passing by Christ Church Cathedral.
Entering Dublin Castle.
The courtyard of Dublin Castle.
Desmond explaining how the castle and surroundings are developed.
The facade of Dublin Castle.
Walking past Chapel Royal, the only surviving part of the original structure left.
The blending between the original wall structure and today’s building.
A little bit more obvious on this side.
Entering the Dubh Linn Garden.
Going around to the other side.
The majestic view of Chapel Royal from the Dubh Linn Garden.
Desmond explaining about how Dublin got its name and what the Chester Beatty Library
The Chester Beatty Library contains manuscripts, rare books, and other treasures from Europe, the Middle East, North Africa and Asia, including the second largest collection of the Qur’an in the world.
Continuing on to the final stop, St Patrick’s Cathedral.
St Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland (Anglican).
Here, Desmond does a recap of the whole tour to test our knowledge.
Desmond concludes by holding up a shamrock, a symbol of Ireland and sometimes a lucky charm, explaining how wishes work on it. (It’s just a superstition.)
The free tour concludes with a last phrase, “Céad Míle Fáilte” which means “one hundred thousand welcomes”. Once you say this, you become an “honorary citizen of Ireland”. But don’t try this with immigration.
With such a valuable free tour, everyone gave well-deserved tips to Desmond, which means everyone enjoyed the tour and got some value out of it.
St Patrick’s Cathedral charges €8.00 (~S$12.28) for adults to enter, so I skipped it.
Overall, the Yellow Umbrella Free Walking Tour of the South Side of Dublin was an excellent way to get a crash course of the city, taking in the sights and sounds efficiently and knowledge directly from a local guide. I’d highly recommend this to everyone visiting Dublin as a must-do before starting the trip proper.