If you seek out the strange and unusual things when you travel, then a trip to Ireland won’t be complete without these 9 weird things to do in Dublin. Visiting cemeteries, haunted destinations, prison tours, death masks, and just super unique to Dublin – these 9 spots will definitely satisfy your craving to explore the weird nooks and crannies o Ireland’s capital.
Weird Things to Do in Dublin
Catrina from 24 Hours Layover
It’s not often you think to go inside a jail when you’re visiting a new city, but in Dublin you need to add Kilmainham Gaol onto your list of weird things to do in Dublin. Kilmainham Jail (or Gaol as it is known in Gaelic) is of incredibly significant importance to the people of Ireland. This place changed history. It was the birthplace of Ireland’s freedom and helped shape the future of Ireland.
But it is also an incredibly creepy and haunted place. Since the gaol has been converted into a museum there have been numerous sightings of entities and spirits and footsteps and voices of child prisoners are often heard.
The prison is also unusual in the sense that men, women, and children weren’t separated; they were often kept together in the same cells. Also, public hangings regularly took place at the entrance of the goal and you can, to this day, still see the remains of the fixtures of the gallows. Whilst life inside here was very hard, during the Great Famine of Ireland in the 1840s many people actually committed crimes just so that they would be sent to Kilmainham Gaol. Because at leas they knew in prison they would get food.
Tickets for the goal are only 9 euros and you can only visit as part of a guided tour so definitely book tickets online beforehand! If you turn up without booking, often you can be waiting a couple of hours until the next open tour.
National Leprechaun Museum
People often think of leprechauns when they think of anything Irish. But, did you know – you can visit the one and only National Leprechaun Museum in Dublin?! This museum focuses on leprechauns, of course, but all kinds of mythology and folklore associated with faeries and other Irish legends.
The museum includes an extensive history of the leprechaun starting with the first sighting in the 8th century. While innocent and family-friendly during the day, you can also participate in an after-hours exhibit called “The Dark Lands.” It focuses on the more adult themes found in Irish legends.
The Long Room Library at Trinity College
Not necessarily one of the weird things to do in Dublin, but it’s unique enough to include is the Long Room Library at Trinity College. The library (and the whole campus) is gorgeous and drowning in history. The Long Room was built between 1712 and 1732 and is home to 200,000 of the Library’s oldest books.
I would highly suggest doing two things if you want to visit the Trinity College Library: purchase your tickets online for the earliest time slot and get there early. If you purchase the tickets online, they are a bit cheaper. There will be people already lined up when you arrive so I suggest arriving maybe 15-20 minutes before your scheduled slot.
When you enter the building, bypass the Book of Kells exhibit and head straight to the Long Room. By doing this, you’ll be able to get pictures with zero, or very few, people in them. Unless looking at professionally taken photographs, most pictures I’ve seen of the Long Room have tons of people in them so I was shocked when I was able to get pictures with hardly any. Don’t worry, if you wanted to see the Book of Kells, you can backtrack and do so after checking out the Long Room in peace.
Death Mask at The Little Museum of Dublin
Stephanie from History Fangirl
After you visit the famous Dublin sites of the Guinness Storehouse and St. Stephen’s Green, set aside some time for a visit to somewhere a bit darker. I have a fascination with the macabre, so whenever I come across a death mask in my travels I tend to get a little over-excited. Well, in Dublin, my interest was peaked! The Little Museum of Dublin, a great museum in its own right, has a fascinating item on display: a copy of the death mask of celebrated Irish author James Joyce. Death masks have fallen out of fashion today, but they were much more common in the early twentieth and nineteenth centuries. In fact, ancient Roman families displayed the death masks of great ancestors in their families for centuries. The most important reason to have a death mask made was to give sculptors something to work off of when making sculptures of the deceased. For great men like James Joyce, this was an easily anticipated need. Joyce’s mask was cast two days after he passed away in 1941 in Zurich, Switzerland. The mask is on display at the Little Museum of Dublin, which also has a great collection of literary treasures related to the history of the city. Make sure to book your tickets ahead of time, as the museum is small (located in a historic house) and guided tours sell-out early.
Christ Church Cathedral
Chris and Heather from A Brit & A Southerner
A trip to the Irish capital of Dublin may lead you to iconic attractions such as the Guinness Storehouse, Temple Bar or Book of Kells inside Trinity College but what about some of the lesser known gems that are worth experiencing? One place that may not be the first place you think about visiting but needs to be on your radar is Christ Church Cathedral. One of many churches in Dublin, this is perhaps one of the most spectacular both in terms of architectural design and history.
Whether you love architecture or simply intrigued by the “weird and wonderful” stories associated with this cathedral, a visit to Dublin wouldn’t be the same without paying a visit to this structure that dates back to 1028. Take some time to admire the beautiful exterior before heading inside to peruse the intricate details of the design.
When you start hearing about the story of St Laurence O’Toole’s mummified heart, you won’t be able to resist finding out more. O’Toole was the Archbishop of this cathedral in 1150 and after dying in 1180, his heart was returned to this location and kept inside a heart-shaped box until 2012. For over 800 years, this was preserved but unfortunately in 2012 it was stolen. In 2018, the heart was located and returned to its home.
Take some time to chat with locals who will share myths, secrets and plenty of intriguing stories surrounding their thoughts on the O’Toole saga. It’s an enlightening experience in Dublin and one that you will likely want to share with others.
Christina of Ireland Travel Guides
Glasnevin Cemetery is a large Catholic cemetery in Dublin, Ireland. I know it is not something people would think of doing when visiting a new place, but, if you are looking to do something unusual in Dublin, then this cemetery tour is a must.
It holds the graves and memorials of several notable figures in Ireland and was opened to the public for the first time in 1832. Despite being an unusual place to do sightseeing, this cemetery is considered as one of the top attractions in Dublin due to its rich history.
A cemetery tour in Glasnevin will take you back to the history of Ireland through the people buried there. You can learn the stories of Ireland’s political and notable figures such as Eamon De Valera, Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, Michael Collins, Countess Marckievcz, and Brendan Behan just to name a few.
Opening Glasnevin was also a historical even for Catholics in the country. For the longes time, there wasn’t any cemetery for the Catholics in Ireland because of the law that prohibited Catholic people to perform any related Catholic services in public. Thus, most Catholics buried their dead to the Protestant-run cemeteries.
Aside from the graveyard, Glasnevin has a museum as well.
St. Michan Church
Stephen of A Backpacker’s Tale
St. Michan Church isn’t well known, but without question, one of the most unusual things to do in Dublin. The small church has a long history that can be traced back over 900 years. Originally, the church was built for the Vikings who, being outcast among their kin, remained in Ireland.
And during its nearly thousand-year history, the crypt has remained untouched. What’s strange about this church – and the crypt in particular- is that the bodies of those buried there have slowly become mummified.
Imagine gathering your courage, heading into the dank and dark crypt, and being greeted by the 6-foot tall mummy of a Crusader Knight. Or the mummy of a thief whos hands and feet were taken in punishment. Almost everybody in the crypt has been mummified.
What makes it more unusual is that no one knows how these bodies have turned into mummies over time.
Laura of Live Adventure Travel
I grew up living in Ireland and there is nothing I enjoy more than checking out some of the weird and unusual things to do in Dublin. There are so many exciting hidden gems just waiting to be explored. My favorite being the Hellfire Club located at the foot of Montpellier hill on the Dublin Mountains.
A hike up to the hellfire club is best suited for a clear sunny day as the top of the mountain is home to stunning views of Dublin city and beyond. Hikers have the choice of 2 routes, the first follows a well kept trail, that takes 40 minutes to complete. The second is a little more adventurous and involves walking straight up the hill (technically, a mountain) and takes between 15/20 minutes to complete.
The Hellfire club is by far one of my favorite walks in Dublin as there is so much to do and see, like watching the sunset, have a picnic or explore the surrounding Dublin Mountain trails.
However, the hellfire club is known for having a little bit of a spooky past. On the foot of the mountain lies an old house ruins. Ireland is known for its myths and legends and the Hellfire Club is subject to that. It is said that one stormy night the roof of the once occupied house was blown away. However, this wasn’t any old storm, the storm was believed to be the work of the devil.
A handful of years later, the house was supposedly occupied by the ‘hellfire club’ an illegal group that engaged in many unlawful activities. It is even said that one night the devil appeared at a hellfire clubs meeting and set fire to the house. The building still remains in that ruined state to this day. I’d 100% recommend checking out the ‘spooky’ trail for yourself.
The Hungry Tree
Ivan from Mind the Travel
Most trees basically require water, sunlight and carbon dioxide, which they absorb through their roots and leaves. Some, though, prefer to absorb other things as well.
Located within the grounds of The Honorable Society of King’s Inns, the training ground of centuries of Irish lawyers and barristers, the Hungry Tree is arguably the weirdest thing to see in Dublin. This impressive London plane tree is currently in the process of devouring an original 19th century cast iron bench and the entire view is completely surreal.
As time has passed, the tree has grown, causing it to eat the parts of the bench that stands in its way. Its gnarled bark now spills over the bench’s backrest, making it appear as though the whole thing is being sucked into the tree’s trunk.
You’ll find this extravaganza right behind the intricate iron gates at the corner of the King’s Inns property on Constitution Hill. It’s a reasonably popular attraction from various films that have been made in Dublin such as Anne Hathaway’s Becoming Jane and Glenn Close’s Albert Nobbs. While not far from the main tourist hotspots of central Dublin, you’ll need to mark it on the map ahead of time, as the tree is not indicated by any signs.
It isn’t the first tree to swallow something that stood in its way, a lot of trees around the world act similarly when faced with an obstacle that intrudes upon their growth. That hasn’t stopped this arboreal bench-eater from being listed as one of Ireland’s Heritage Trees by the Tree Council.
St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre
Kate from Our Escape Clause
A mall might not seem like the most interesting or offbeat place to visit when spending a couple of days in Dublin, but St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is interesting enough to be worth the trip.
Set just steps away from St. Stephen’s Green Park and along popular Grafton Street, this beautiful shopping centre is constructed with a glass-and-iron dome ceiling, giving it a beautiful, vintage vibe that immediately demands to be photographed.
Surprisingly, the photogenic building was only constructed in 1988, though that’s quite hard to believe when admiring it!
When visiting St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, be sure to climb to the top floor to capture the beautiful shopping centre in your photos, and then to leave time to peruse the shops and cafes.
The shopping centre is home to a combination of common chain stores and more interesting independent outlets, selling everything from clothes and homegoods to those selling quirky odds and ends, hobbyist items, and traditional Irish crafts.
Regardless of your taste and needs of the day, you’re bound to find something that catches your eye here.
Once you finish shopping, consider heading to one of the many cafes in St. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre for a cup of coffee or tea and a snack before continuing your explorations of Dublin.