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Mr and Mrs Lili Wedding

 

Smithfield makes the NY Times

As found by Laura @ http://travel.nytimes.com/2009/04/26/travel/26surfacing.html:

(They didn't mention the kids throwing stones and the other unsavoury types - and we'd kind of prefer the horse market found another venue, anyhoo...)

Changing Smithfield Still Holds On to Dublin-Style Fun

Published: April 26, 2009

FOR the last couple of centuries, the two main reasons to visit Smithfield, a diminutive Dublin neighborhood centered around a spacious square northeast of the city center, were to buy a horse at the local equestrian market and to see the red brick distillery where Ireland’s best-known whiskey, Jameson, was made.

The horse market still takes place monthly (though there’s talk of finding a new location), but Jameson moved most of its operations south to County Cork in the 1960s. The neighborhood soon fell into neglect.

But thanks to an urban renewal plan that the city started in 2003, Smithfield has slowly been making a comeback. Each of the square’s 300,000 cobblestones was uprooted, cleaned, polished and put back. Tall, contemporary-looking lampposts bloomed on the circumference of the plus-size plaza, and industrial-chic apartment and retail buildings rose on the western side of the square.

“A lot of people thought Smithfield would be an alternative to Temple Bar,” said Michael T. Hough, a bartender at the shabby-chic Dice Bar (79 Queen Street; 353-1-633-3936), referring to the once-derelict, now pub-crammed central Dublin neighborhood that was transformed into a “cultural quarter” more than a decade ago. “But it hasn’t really got there yet.”

In fact, the recent economic downturn hasn’t been kind to the neighborhood, as a few local businesses have recently shuttered. But Smithfield still has plenty to offer.

The distillery, meanwhile, has been rebranded the Old Jameson Distillery (Bow Street; 353-807-2355; www.jamesonwhiskey.com; admission is 13.50 euros, about $18.20 at $1.35 to the euro) and turned into a museum dedicated to the making of whiskey. Hourlong tours are given in six languages.

The legendary Light House Cinema (Blackhall Walk, Smithfield Market; 353-1-879-7601; www.lighthousecinema.ie), one of the city’s few indie movie houses, closed down when it lost its center-of-town location in 1996, only to resurface last year in a sleekly designed, award-winning space (with a modish cafe open to anyone).

The Maldron Hotel (Smithfield Square; 353-1-485-0900; www.maldronhotels.com; doubles from 59 euros), part of an Irish-owned chain, opened up a Smithfield branch last fall. The chic property’s 92 rooms offer free high-speed Internet access, floor-to-ceiling glass windows, balconies and, in some rooms, great views of the square. Stir, the hotel’s retro-chic restaurant and bar, serves decent globally inspired dishes like cumin-infused chicken strips and Peking duck.

A better dining bet is Peppe (31 North Brunswick Street; 353-1-671-8216; www.pepperestaurant.ie), a southern-Italian-leaning eatery serving thick-crust pizzas (9.50 to 13.80 euros) and hearty pasta dishes (10.90 to 13.90 euros).

Cristophe’s Cafe (Duck Lane; 353-1-887-4417; www.christophescafe.com), by day a casual spot for salads and sandwiches (5 to 10 euros), in the evening turns into a candlelit French bistro offering classics like ribeye steak in a red wine sauce (25 euros) and veal stew in a cream sauce (19.50 euros).

Any visit to Smithfield isn’t complete without stopping by the Cobblestone (77 King Street North; 353-1-872-1799; www.cobblestonedublin.com). There’s been some sort of drinking den in this spot for 150 years, but for the last 15, this popular pub on the north end of the square has become famous for its (sometimes impromptu) Irish music sessions. Both young and old, Smithfield veterans and newcomers turn up for plenty of “craic” (Gaelic for “fun”) and a pint or two of the local brew (that would be Guinness, of course).

No matter how trendy Smithfield becomes, some things, hopefully, will never change.

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