Dublin Decoded offer both public and private tours, but these are accessed in very different ways (see below)

But public or private, our basic philosophy and approach does not change.  With our traditional strength in art and architectural history, our tours are especially popular with people interested in visual and material culture, as well as those interested in history.  The tours will appeal to all  intellectually curious people, as well as determined urban explorers who expect the best buy also like getting slightly off the beaten track.

Our guiding principle is helping you read and decode the city, paintings, sculpture, landscape, and art works;  pointing out everything from street names, to underground rivers, from topography to architectural oddities, or an inscriptions, dates or an allegorical sculpture on buildings, then helping explain and interpret that information for you.  This is what we do best.

Our specialty these days tends to be high-end, quality, private tours for small to medium sized groups of discerning clients, whether family groups or friends.  However we’ve also provided many very successful tours for companies and corporate excursions, as well as schools, clubs, societies and university groups.  For all private tour inquiries,  choose a tour from below, then please use the comments field in the contact form page to tell us about yourself, your interests and requirements.  When using the Contact form, please don’t forget to include the title of your preferred tour as below, and of course, your requested dates.

and public tours?  Its complicated…   Unlike most walking tour companies we do not host regular, scheduled public tours.  We do lead one or two public tours each month and everyone is welcome to participate, but the dates, themes and routes all differ each month, tours are only announced 5-  15 days in advance, and in any case there are only 1-3 tours p/m.

Most of our public tour guests are based here and are loyal members of a mailing list / newsletter we send out once a month.  You are welcome to join the mailing list; the quick sign-up form may be found here.  Joining is especially recommended for people who live in Dublin, as well as regular visitors here, or those planning a forthcoming trip.  It is easy to unsubscribe any time.    Please note however we unfortunately can not answer email queries about public tours.  All of the information appear on the ticket pages of Eventbrite and is also made clear and available via the monthly newsletter.   Once events have been scheduled, links to tours on EventBrite also appear on the margins of our home page.   You are welcome to join our any of our public tours although they’re not terribly frequent.   For obvious practical reason therefore,  most overseas guest who participate in Dublin Decoded tours do so by booking their own private walking tours.

Our our private walking tours:  choose your route. 

If you decide you would like to inquire about one of these tours (listed below)  all such inquiries are now made via the contact form. To ensure a speedy response, please state the title of your preferred tour and of course your preferred date,  all in the “comments” field please.

Medieval Mass to Georgian Splendour, your private tour focuses first on Dublin Castle, then on the SW highly historic area of the city centre known as the Liberties, with an emphasis on Dublin’s ancient past, taking in early Christianity, the Viking settlement, Anglo-Norman conquest, their medieval castle, and great city walls and gates; as well as historic churches and vanished monasteries in the area.  We’ll also discuss early local industries like brewing  distilling and textiles; poverty and economic decline, social history, politics and rebellion, including the seminal events of 1798; 1803 and 1916.  This is one of most popular and acclaimed tours.  Medieval Mass to Georgian Splendour:route 2.8k, approximate tour time: 2.5 hours.    The walk sometimes includes interiors, to be Below:  some images from our tours on this route…

Liberties, walking the sligh mhor,  East to West:  offering another, slightly different approach to the same Liberties district,  in this private tour we will start together in the environs of Christ Church cathedral, now busy with traffic, yet still utterly central to understanding  Dublin’s very oldest history.  Christ Church also sits at the terminus of the ancient sli mhor.  a road which predates Dublin itself, and now boasts an extraordinary collection of deep historical connections and institutions,  On this route we walk the route will show you and discuss at least 5 or six churches,  discuss a vanished abbey, three old breweries, factories, colleges, fires stations, markets, pilgrimage routes, two old distilleries (and one very new one!)   We end near James Hospital, consider 1916 rovolutionary history,  then descend to old Kilmanham Village and the Royal Hospital (now IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art)  From this point guests may proceed onward to either IMMA/Irish Museum of Modern Art or Kilmanham Gaol, the unmissable 1916 experience and a must-see for any student of Irish history.

North by North West. (NxNW) a private walking tour of the North Georgian core of central city North of the Liffey and from Parnell Sqaure and its surrounding area, focusing on the western half of the historic urban estate formerly controlled by the Gardiner family, who essential created this remarkable district of Dublin in the 1700s.   Our tours starts outside he Hugh Lane Gallery, also known as the Municipal Gallery, an art gallery housed in  Charlemont House on Parnell Sq North, an 1760s aristocratic palazzo built for the scholar-collector James Caulfield, earl of Charlemont.    Time alllowing we shall explore some of the galleriues, including the studio of Francis bacon, miraculously preserved to the last detail, then transported  from London in 1996 and recreated here.   On leaving the gallery we explore and discuss the surrounding Parnell Square, including the 18th century Rotunda, first public purpose-built maternity hospital in the world, alongside the extraordinary array of theatres, dining rooms, and former pleasure gardens built to provide its funding.   From here we branch out to explore wonderful surrounding treasures like the Black Church, Dominick Street, Hennrietta St and Kings Inns.   All along the way we discuss the social and political history of the area.  Time allowing toward the final stages of the tour, we often loop back down towards the river via historic Capel St area, where you’ll discover the ground under your feet is full of ancient archaeology, including a vanished abbey.   Below:  some images from our tours on this route…

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Hugh Lane to Grangegorman your private tour:: is one of our longest, most original but also most distinctive and rewarding tours.  This is a longer walk, at 3 to 3.2 hours.   It’s a walking therefore for for people who like walking, and getting stuck into urban exploration at its varied and gritty best.    It commences with the ame first 30-40 minutes as the  Then we travel North, then gradually west, via Henrietta St one of the first planned Georgian streets in the world, with its huge redbrick mansions, as well as the the Broadstone and Kings Inns area. The final part of the tour explores the extraordinary, often poignant history of the Grangegorman area, with its old and former prisons, hospitals, work houses and asylums; one of the least known areas of central Dublin, even for natives and Dubliners! At the end of pur epic tour we’ll discover and discuss the extraordinary metamorphosis currently transforming this area, with Ireland’s newest University campus – including both conversions of historic buildings and awarding contemporary architecture- springing up on the grounds of the former St Brendan’s asylum asylum.                       Hugh Lane to Grangegorman: tour route 4.8k, approximate tour time: 3- 3.2 hours.  We can make alterations to reduce the overall walking time to 1.8 -2 hrs, by request.  Please specify this in your email if required.    Below:  some images from our tours on this route…

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South East Highlights: your private tour: brings you around Trinity College and the South Georgian Core, the most gracious district of elegant 18th and 19th century buildings, aristocratic clubhouses, townhouses and plutocratic mansions.  Highlights of  feature a wonderful 19th century neo- Byzantine church and a section of superb historic buildings among the tranquil campus of Trinity College.  Trinity (founded 1592) the alma mater of Edward Burke, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett, showcases some of the best examples of historic building styles from the 1600 to 21st century,  our selection includes an 18th century Temple, a modernist masterpiece library, and one of the finest Victorian era Gothic-Revival buildings in the world.  Please note however this tour does not usually include the the old Library with its Long Room and Book of Kells *.  Although these can be added as an extra, there is more than adequate interpretation available there on-site.  Our best recommendation therefore for guests who wish to visit these to do so after or prior to our tour, then meet us outside for the start of our walk.  You’ll find there are countless other treasures on the campus, and the adjoining streets, right across this entire, lovely area.  South East Highlights:tour route 2.8k, approximate tour time: 2- 2.4 hours. 

  • Old Library included by special request only:  to include Old Library with Long Room and the Book of Kells,  please add approx + €100 to fee depending on numbers and + 1 hour to itinerary.

Private and bespoke tours of the National Gallery of Ireland (maximum 14 people) 

How to Read a Painting.  our well known, highly enjoyable, convivial yet hugely high-value fine art tour, and the subject of scores of rave reviews on TripAdvisor and elsewhere. This event explores the National Gallery collection. For the general yet intellectually curious visitor, it helps answer important questions concerning how to interpret and understand old master paintings.

How does it work?   We will look at somewhere between 12 and 18 paintings in penetrating detail, helping you learn some of the arcane skills of reading symbolism in paintings. Such symbols include religious iconography from French and Italian Renaissance masterpieces, recognizing essential visual ingredients of popular subjects in historic religious art (such as the Annunciation, Holy Family, Lamentation, Assumption and other, oft-depicted stories) and learning how to recognize the key attributes (identifying symbols) of the frequently depicted religious/ biblical stories and characters. Developing these skills helps to add huge pleasure and interest when looking  in future at Art,  whether in the great museum collections of the North America,  Europe and the world, or in old churches in France, Italy,  Belgium or Spain.

What type of Art?   our tour features a thought-provoking selection of old master paintings from the 1300s, 1400s, and 1500s including Italian Pre-Renaissance, Quattrocento and High Renaissance (from Paulo Ucello to Andrea Mantegna and Filipo Lippi)  as well as Art from France from the 1400s to the 1600s (Vuet, Claude and others)  and from the 17th Century Golden Era of Dutch Art (the time of Rembrandt, Jan Steen, van Ruisdael and Vermeer). As well as religious saints and symbols we’ll also glance at some of the best-known tropes of classical mythology,  and see how artists use symbols to help viewers identify mythological characters and subjects too. 

How to Book, with several days notice,  the How to Read a Painting tour is available as private tour on most weekday afternoons.

Thursday evenings. once a week,the tour is often available most Thursday evenings with sufficient notice, from 6pm – 8.10om.    The galleries are beautifully quiet and peaceful this time of evening,  offering perfect viewing conditions, and the chance to discuss the artworks in a relaxed and highly enjoyable atmosphere.

Fees:  €220 booking fee, which also covers the first 4 people, then + €25 pp after.   Please add €30 supplement for a Thursday night booking or weekend, if less than 6 people are attending.  (Events with 6+ people are exempt from the evening time and weekend supplement fees)

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