It is customary for the residents of any city
at that city's more touristy haunt
s. Temple Bar, however, is really not as bad as dedicated Dub
s like to make it out to be. It is comprised of a series of small alleys and side streets off of one long main street, running from Parliament St.
to Westmorland St. and College Green
, flanked by the river on one side and by Dame St.
, one of Dublin
's busiest streets, on the other.
A lot of money went into turning Temple Bar into an art colony or urban creative centre. These days no struggling artist (and few successful ones) could dream of affording studio space in so central a location. However, there are still numerous art galleries in the area, as well as the Irish Film Centre (which has a very good programme of old, arthouse and foreign movies). A lot of the architecture is suitably modern and experimental, but in the best possible sense; particular notice should be given to the Earth House, a residential building built entirely out of natural materials and having a local water source of its own, as well as solar and geothermal electricity.
During the day, Temple Bar is a veritable alternative shopping mall - Che Guevara t-shirts, goth boots, kinky jewelery, tattoo parlours (OK, one tatoo parlour - but then it's not a very big place), second hand clothes and CDs, and whatever else you can imagine art students would like to wear. It also has a large number of middle of the way eateries, almost exclusively geared towards tourists and some with annoyingly "Oirish" themes. One exception is the Irish restaurnat Gallagher's - it's overpriced and twee, but the boxties are lovely and they stock real ales and other beers from a small and apparently very highly regarded local brewery (not being a beer fan, I don't remember its name). Don't let anything tempt you into the Mongolian Barbeque, however. Bleurgh.
The trendy centre of Temple Bar is located around Temple Bar Square, with several rather swish restaurants (Luigi Malones, Fitzers, Trastevere) around the perimeter. A branch of the hyper-cool clothing and lifestyle emporium Urban Outfitters has recently been opened, and though it occupies and entire block, one of the exits is to the aquare. By crude rule of thumb, I'd say everything within view of the square is as trendy, mediocre and overpriced as everything in that shop.
The Parliament St. end of Temple Bar is home to several very good restaurant, in quieter and more secluded locations and therefore more attractive to locals. Eden is my current favourite restaurant in Dublin (but not for the faint of wallet), and the Tea Room in the Clarence Hotel is not only very nice, but also very popular with visiting film and rock stars.
To summarise, although large chunks of Temple Bar are entirely to be avoided (pubs with trad nights and anchors hanging from the ceiling, in particular), and despite the fact that on warm weekends it turns into and outdoor meat market, it is still more than worth a visit on a quiet, sunny weekday. It is atmospheric and almost entirely closed to traffic, making it a perfect location for a low-intensity sight seeing day out for all the family.