Title: PrettyCityDublin Discovering Dublin’s Beautiful Places (review copy)
Author: Siobhan Ferguson
Genre: Non-Fiction, Travel, Culture, Photography, Coffee-table Book
Blurb from Publisher
Dublin is a unique, multi-layered city, where ancient and youthful meet to form a community rich in culture, creativity and song.
With picturesque seaside villages and romantic medieval castles, you are guaranteed a warm Irish welcome.
This beautiful collection of images will take you past Dublin’s famous landmarks – the bridge, the Liffey, the pubs – and into the hidden gems waiting around every corner.
From secluded mews to artisan outlets, vintage markets and tree-lined streets, prettycitydublin champions the quiet, gentle moments that allow you to escape in a bustling capital city like Dublin.
Full of the unexplored and less-appreciated areas of Dublin, this stunning guide also includes tips on how to plan and capture your own prettycitydublin experience, whether on foot or dreaming from afar.
The author Siobhan Ferguson describes this book as a love letter to Dublin and I very much agree. She somehow manages to capture the heart and spirit of my beloved Dublin through her guide to all there is to see and do in Ireland’s capital.
But more than anything, it’s her beautifully photographed images of Dublin contained within the book that really capture the essence of the city. She manages to capture the wonderful mix that there is within Dublin; old and new, cobbled streets and alleyways, Dublin’s wide variety of parks and seaside views, beautiful Georgian buildings.
Siobhan Ferguson first came to public attention through her Instagram accounts: @PrettyCityLondon, @ThePrettyCities, and @siobhaise. And this book is an Instagrammer’s dream with fantastic tips for the amateur photographer who wants to curate a beautiful Instagram feed for themselves using just their phone camera and some readily available photo editing apps. Like anyone else I like to snap pretty pictures when I’m about to share on my social media and I certainly picked up a number of helpful tips from this book.
After advising the reader how to take the perfect photo Siobhan then directs us on our own walking tours of Dublin. She splits the city into neighbourhoods for prospective visitors to Dublin to explore.
I absolutely adored this idea and felt that this helped to capture a unique version of Dublin that isn’t found in other guide books to the city. Although I do feel that the Northside of the city might feel a little shortchanged as though it might frequently get the tag as the less affluent side of Dublin it has many hidden gems too.
Most visitors to Dublin will want to head to Temple Bar as it has a wonderfully eclectic and old-time feel as it is filled with great eaterys, unique shops, busy pubs, creative spaces, and much more besides. So it’s no surprise that Ferguson chooses South-West Central Dublin to start her tour of the city as it stretches from the edge of the of St Stephen’s Green to the Northern borders of Temple Bar. The photos really do capture the vibe of the city but what’s really great is that Ferguson maps out a meandering walk that really encompasses all that a visitor to Dublin would want to see and do in this area; from style emporiums to boutiques to craft centres to notable statues to great places to eat and drink. I very much agree with the author when she says that Drury street is an absolute must visit as the atmosphere of that street simply fizzes whenever you wander through it.
The next neighbourhood that Ferguson splits the city into is South-East Central. This is my personal favourite part of the centre of the city as it contains the beautiful green oasis of St Stephen’s Green, my favourite gig venue (Whelans), my favourite museums, and one of my favourite book shops… I am a book lover after all so I urge any book lover to take a trip to Hodges Figgis on Dawson Street. It also happens to contain one of the most beautiful libraries in the whole world: The Long Room at Trinity College Dublin. Ferguson again has a great many tips for places to visit; some typically on tourist bucket lists and others not so much. That’s what’s so wonderful about this book. It includes famous landmarks and places, and also the less well known. Dublin isn’t quite as large as many other capital cities in the world, and the bucket list places really are places that you should visit because they aren’t all about being tourist traps and really are must see. But as I said Ferguson also includes lesser known places that truly capture the heart of Dublin.
Ferguson then takes a trip towards the outskirts of the capital to Dublin’s villages which I think is what makes this book truly unique. So often guide books to Dublin are all about the city centre, but in this offering you get to see the sides of Dublin where people tend to live. That’s not to say people don’t live in the city centre but so much of Dublin is made up of outlying villages and suburbs. It was lovely for the book to focus on the village style life that people would know from London and to see that Dublin has its own unique village atmosphere.
Ferguson splits the outskirts of the city into five must visit areas including the beautifully leafy residential areas near the Grand Canal, she then heads out towards the seaside at Sandymount, continues further south to Dún Laoghaire, and further again to the breathtaking seaside views at Killiney Hill (once you see the photos you’ll realise why Bono has his pad nearby!) She then recommends that the reader finishes up in North County Dublin visiting the extremely picturesque areas of Howth, Clontarf and Malahide. With each “neighbourhood” Ferguson manages to capture the most beautiful images of the areas and in her words sums up the atmosphere of these places in a manner that will have the reader itching to book a trip to Dublin and to get out and experience all that Dublin has to offer for themselves.
The book finishes with images of Dublin through the seasons which perfectly shows how that no matter the time of year Dublin always looks beautiful and is well worth the trip. And lastly there is a bucket list of absolute must see places in Dublin. One of my personal recommendations is that you visit all the book shops that Ferguson lists as each are perfectly magical in their own unique way. Although this reader would also include Chapters bookshop on Parnell Street as the sprawling second floor is a second hand book lover’s dream.
Overall this was a really great read that made me as a reader feel truly immersed in all that is Dublin. The photographs were absolutely breathtaking and to me really represented all that is pretty about Ireland’s historic capital city.
I think this is the perfect coffee table book to flip through and really get a taste for Dublin, but it’s also a really informative guide book to the city. It would make for great reading before planning your first (or next) trip to the city. Fingers crossed we will all get through this current global pandemic and city breaks in a beautiful city such as Dublin become commonplace soon again.
*I received a complimentary copy from the publisher for an honest review.*
Published 18th September 2020, The History Press