When I drive into the centre of Dublin, Ely Place is one of my preferred parking spots so over time I have got to know it well. It’s nicely tucked away, yet central as it’s a mere stone’s throw from Dublin’s St Stephens Green and from one of the city’s main shopping arteries: Grafton Street. It’s lined either side with charming Georgian buildings and as city streets go it’s not long but there is a surprising amount one can do there.
At the far end of Ely Place, The Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA) Gallery stands proud with its minimalistic modernity a counterpoint to the centuries-old architecture of the rest of the street. The gallery’s spaces showcase modern and contemporary art in Ireland. The pièce de résistance in the RHA’s calendar is the open submission Summer Exhibition now in its one hundred and eighty-fourth year: this year the exhibition runs until the 9th August and is definitely worth viewing. One of the joys of the gallery aside from the wonderful quality of light is that entry is free so you can wander in and out for a few minutes whenever you pass by. The gallery holds classes, workshops and lectures full details of which are on their website.
The gallery’s retail space is now occupied by Inreda (formerly of Camden Street), a design shop that stocks chic products for the home. The shop is small but it punches way above its weight and is a good place to find unusual gifts or a well designed item with a Scandinavian vibe for your house.
Coppa is the RHA gallery’s café and it is one of my go to spots for a decent cup of coffee in Dublin’s city centre. And the cakes are good too! Coppa also serves a selection of sandwiches and other lunch dishes. It’s a buzzy spot with friendly and helpful staff: it’s particular busy at lunchtime so go early or late if you want to avoid the crush.
Should you want something more substantial food-wise then Dublin’s long-established Ely wine bar is at the other end of the street. It’s was age since I ate there so in the interest of research I had lunch there on a recent Saturday and I enjoyed it. I tucked into a main course of homemade beef burger and hand cut chips, tempted to do so as the beef is from an organic County Clare farm, and had a yummy berry crumble with vanilla ice cream for desert. Pleasingly The Ely has a good selection of interesting artisan wines and a goodly amount of them are available by the glass
What’s not to like about one of Dublin’s shorter street where you can: admire the architecture of yesteryear, drink in culture, find a good cup of coffee, buy Scandinavian goodies, and eat well while sipping a decent glass of wine.