15 sci-tech hotspots you have to visit in Dublin

14 Mar 2016

Given that St Patrick’s Day is this week, and tourists aplenty will descend on Ireland, we’re here with a quick whistlestop tour of Dublin’s science and tech landmarks.

100,000 tourists are expected to visit Ireland this week as St Patrick’s Day looms into view. While many of these holidaymakers will travel right throughout the country, the vast majority will base themselves in Dublin.

The landmark day alone is expected to bring €70m to the capital city but, rather than go down the paddywhackery route, we’re here with 15 places to visit that showcase Ireland’s science and technology achievements, past and present.

Tour of Dublin: Broombridge (D7)

Quaternion mutterings don’t usually make headlines, or indeed get inscribed in stone. Yet, at Broombridge along the Royal Canal, William Rowan Hamilton’s ‘eureka’ moment is captured in all its tangible glory.

Broombridge Tour of Dublin landmarks

Broombridge plaque for William Rowan Hamilton, via Wisher/Public Commons

It was here that Hamilton came up with the idea for a revolutionary new form of algebra. You can read all about it, if you want.

Trinity College (D2)

Sticking to the tangible theme, Trinity College is full of hits. For example, the iron railings along Nassau Street sport the inscription R&J Mallet, which, as all you eagle-eyed engineering historians out there already know, relates to Robert Mallet.

The R&J Mallet railings outside Trinity College, via Luke Maxwell Free tour of Dublin

The R&J Mallet railings outside Trinity College, via Luke Maxwell

He was dubbed the ‘father of seismology’, with his iron foundry business obviously well enough respected for Trinity architects.

Elsewhere there’s the painstakingly boring pitch drop experiment, and plenty more besides when you get indoors.

Science Gallery (Pearse Street, D2)

We love the Science Gallery here at Silicon Republic and, after the wonderful Trauma: Built to break exhibit finished up last month, the team are back in force in March with a new farming show.

It’s free. It’s brilliant. Do it.

Makeshop (Nassau Street D2)

Created by Science Gallery, Makeshop is for everyone from novices to advanced makers, young to old. The aim of Makeshop is to provide people with the tools, materials and guidance they need to get making, in a place where creativity is encouraged and everyone is welcome.

Makeshop on Nassau Street, Free Tour of Dublin

Makeshop on Nassau Street, via Luke Maxwell

Silicon Docks (Grand Canal Dock, D2)

If it’s more of a modern schtick you’re into then check out Dublin’s very own Silicon Valley: Silicon Docks. Home to plenty of software companies you rely on for much of your social media-ing, you could gaze at Facebook’s European HQ, or even watch Google staff out in the wild, getting a coffee at 3fE.

3fE in Grand Canal Dock | Free Tour of Dublin

3fE in Grand Canal Dock, via Luke Maxwell

If you want, you can struggle to understand why the red pipes outside the Grand Canal Theatre are supposed to represent trees – come back in the summer to check out Inspirefest these, too. Also, if you’re flush with money and want to invest in start-ups, let out a yell and someone there will be happy to talk to you.

Merrion Square (Merrion Square, D2)

Do you like moderate mistreatment of cats? Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger sure did, at least intellectually speaking. He also took a shine to Dublin many moons ago.

Landing here from England at the outbreak of the World War II in 1939, Schrödinger’s self-described ‘long exile’ was 16 years, during which he became the first professor of physics at the newly-established Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies.

Erwin Schrödinger Worked Here sign, via William Murphy/Flickr

Erwin Schrödinger Worked Here sign, via William Murphy/Flickr

He also penned What Is Life? during this time, one of the most significant scientific contributions ever made in Ireland. His name adorns a plaque around Merrion Square.

The Little Museum of Dublin (St Stephen’s Green, D2)

The Little Museum of Dublin is, well, little. It’s also a treasure trove of trivial historical artefacts related to the city. Situated on St Stephen’s Green, it’s an easy find. The Irish Times voted it “Dublin’s best museum experience”, with the tours there very enjoyable.

The Little Museum of Dublin, via Luke Maxwell

The Little Museum of Dublin, via Luke Maxwell

Natural History Museum (Merrion Square, D2)

One of the better cabinet-museums around, Dublin’s Natural History Museum is great and well worth a trip. It holds millions of specimens, with just a fraction on display at any one time. If you can’t make it down there’s always this 3D virtual tour, should you like that kind of thing.

Natural History Museum via Neil Turner on Flickr Tour of Dublin

Natural History Museum via Neil Turner on Flickr

The Zoo (Phoenix Park, D8)

Of course, not everybody likes hanging out with dead specimens, so, if you prefer the real thing, then Dublin Zoo in Phoenix Park should sate your appetite. Highlights here include the new gorilla enclosure and the excellent zebra, giraffe, ostrich and rhino enclosures.

Dublin Zoo, via Wikimedia Commons

Dublin Zoo, via Wikimedia Commons

Wi-Fi murals (Throughout Dublin city)

Okay, this is a bit of a weird one but, if you occasionally look up from your phone when you’re walking around the city you may succeed in (a) not walking into traffic, bikes or other people and (b) see some of the really cool tiled murals signifying Dublin’s free Wi-Fi.

Croke Park (Jones’s Road, D3)

Right now, Croke Park is home to a whole host of cool pieces of technology. A test bed for internet of things developments, Croke Park is testing everything from micro weather patterns to crowd control.

Croke Park, via Wikimedia Commons Tour of Dublin

Croke Park, via Wikimedia Commons

For example, on the roof, at this very minute, Intel has a tiny little weather centre. In the stands, cameras are monitoring shade levels in minute detail to improve grass growth. The future of stadia, and perhaps cities, is all here.

Botanic Gardens (Glasnevin, D9)

An animal-free alternative for nature fans would be the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin. Billed as “an oasis of calm and beauty”, not even dogs are allowed here, so any cynophobia sufferers out there rejoice.

Botanic Gardens via Wikimedia Commons Tour of Dublin

Botanic Gardens via Wikimedia Commons

A premier scientific institution, the gardens also contain the National Herbarium and several historic wrought-iron glasshouses.

Guinness Storehouse (St James’ Gate, D8)

What is a widget? It’s a Guinness creation that floats about in some cans of beer and stout, keeping the drink’s make-up relatively natural. If you take a tour of the Storehouse – Ireland’s most popular paid tourist attraction – you’ll hear all about it.

There’s far more cool stuff inside the building, too, like the pint-glass-shaped interior and some of the biggest steel beams you’ll see in the country.

Guinness Storehouse image via Ccharmon on Flickr

Guinness Storehouse image via Ccharmon on Flickr

Teelings Whiskey Distillery (Newmarket, D8)

We could recommend the Jameson tour in Smithfield but, given it doesn’t actually produce any whiskey, we’ll plump for Teelings. Take a tour, learn about whiskey and enjoy your samples. Simples.

Teelings Whiskey Distillery, via William Murphy on Flickr

Teelings Whiskey Distillery, via William Murphy on Flickr

The Digital Hub (Thomas Street, D8)

Right beside the Guinness Storehouse sits a hive of start-up activity, with the Digital Hub and the Digital Exchange home to businesses like Slack, Emaint, Tibco and even, eh, Silicon Republic.

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Main image via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic