Not a souvenir, more a neat token...
June 24, 2014 12:46 PM   Subscribe

I'm going to Dublin, Ireland for several weeks for work. Do you have any suggestions for something to acquire while I'm there that isn't a tourist-type thing and that is usually only doable if you're in a place for more than a few days?

This is my first trip outside of North America and I've figured out everything else I need to do so now I'm at the "looking for unique tips" stage. I'm looking for something that most tourists can't or won't buy, but it doesn't have to be a tourist-type item. Most people buy SIM cards when going to a new country, so while I'll probably get one, it's not what I have in mind.

For example, a long time back when I went to Colorado, I got a driver license back when they'd issue them to non-residents. I've collected transit passes with my photo on them before, as well as a city "business license for itinerant dealers to sell items on the beach" from Daytona Beach Shores. Is there something like this I can try for in Dublin? I already looked at driver licenses--though I wouldn't go for it since I don't want to try driving on the left side--and they don't issue them to non-residents.

Ideally this is something I can do on the weekends but I can also probably knock off of work for a day or two during the five weeks to go scouting around.
posted by fireoyster to Travel & Transportation (16 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
One thing you'll likely get after being there a few days is....ideas.

Seriously - a sense of the place you're in is something other people can't give you while you're not there, and is something that will lead to a memento with meaning.
posted by amtho at 12:58 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

When I was in Dublin it was autumn and the leaves were falling off trees in pretty colours. I reached down to pick one up and was surprised when a cheeky Irishman walking by me shouted, "Hey, that's my leaf!"
posted by winterportage at 12:58 PM on June 24, 2014 [8 favorites]

When I was studying abroad in Dublin a few million years ago, I rode the bus a lot. There was a promotional poster that cracked me up every time I saw it (I can't find a photo of it online, but it was of Jonathan Swift getting caught trying to skip a fare.) I wrote a note to Dublin Bus telling them how much I liked it, and they sent me one!

So maybe keep an eye out for consumer-y things that you enjoy in the first few days, and write notes to their makers?

Another thought: An adult personalized Leap Card?
posted by gnomeloaf at 1:13 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Find a great pub to be your "home base" there and collect stories from people you meet. Jot them down in a journal to remember later. My best memories of Ireland are the people I met and just had a really great conversation with.
posted by goggie at 1:21 PM on June 24, 2014 [2 favorites]

The National Library issues Reader's Tickets, which gives access to their collections. Sort of like a library card (though you can't check anything out).
posted by troika at 1:30 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bookmark from Hodges & Figgis on Dawson St.? Luas ticket, packet of Taytos, coffee from Bewley's? A sweater or something from Cleary's, maybe? It's like the Dublin equivalent of Macy's, don't believe they exist anywhere else. A stone from Ireland's Eye in Howth, a grave rubbing from Glasnevin, a skeeball ticket from the boardwalk in Bray?

Hard to think of what else might work for you if you want something more official-seeming, like a license or a certificate of some kind. The Irish aren't terribly officious.
posted by Diablevert at 1:32 PM on June 24, 2014

You can get an official Irish Whiskey Taster Certificate after going through the Jameson Distillery Tour. This is very touristy but seems to sync with the drivers' license thought.
posted by blackjack514 at 1:33 PM on June 24, 2014

What I started to do (and my son continues) is to find a small stone/rock, that I could use a sharpie on, to write the name of the state/country I found it in. I have a large flat-ish bowl with all the rocks in it. I even have a small colorful piece of the Berlin Wall in there.
Guest enjoy looking through the bowl at the different types of minerals/stones/sea glass in the bowl.
posted by donaken at 1:56 PM on June 24, 2014 [1 favorite]

If you're interested in music you could take an intensive short course over a few days in a traditional Irish instrument. I'd imagine you'd get some kind of certificate but you can also buy the instrument itself. The bodhrán (pronounced bore-awn) is a fun thing to learn and you can get quite cheap ones with nice designs. They're fairly lightweight so you should be able to bring one home with you if you wrap it well. Or the tin whistle - it's also quite recognisably "Irish", easy to carry, but not something I think that most tourists would consider buying as a token. I think that would be a cool future story: "Oh that bodhrán/tin whistle? Yeah I picked it up while I stayed in Dublin, had a few lessons while I was there..." *proceed to play*
Enjoy your trip!
posted by billiebee at 3:54 PM on June 24, 2014

Have a look at the Dublin City Council site to see what you might need a permit for. There's a filming in the city application form for instance.
posted by alusru at 4:27 PM on June 24, 2014

Steal beer glasses from bars
posted by winterportage at 6:10 PM on June 24, 2014

When I go someplace new, I usually try to buy books that are somehow tied to the place. I have, for example, a two-volume Icelandic-English dictionary from Reykjavik, a Bavarian cookbook (in english) and two illustrated children's books (in German) from Munich, and a book of local fables (in English) from Andorra, just to name a few examples.

Perhaps an Irish-English dictionary? A book of Irish slang or jokes? A cookbook (depending on what you think of Irish cuisine)? A children's book in Irish, or dual-language?
posted by lollymccatburglar at 9:50 AM on June 25, 2014

Steal beer glasses from bars

Stealing coasters is easier and I would think a bit less obnoxious?
posted by naoko at 11:53 AM on June 25, 2014

The Science Gallery has walk-in workshops where you can make a small motorized robot, FM radio, or other small projects.

While I was looking around for things I came upon the Dublin Falconry and the City of a Thousand Welcomes initiative, where a Dubliner takes you out for a cup of tea or a pint. While I can't find solid evidence that either offers a token, both seem like they would make something like that available - photo of you with a falcon, "I've been welcomed to Dublin" certificate, etc.
posted by troika at 12:33 PM on June 25, 2014

take on the (now solved, obviously) James Joyce riddle; walking across Dublin without passing a pub. Highlight the route on a map, print it, frame it, put it in your hallway - hopefully a nice conversation piece.
posted by kev23f at 1:44 PM on June 25, 2014

If you want something with your name and picture on it, you can get a photo ID from the main Dublin Bus office on O'Connell Street in Dublin. It comes with a number on it and is intended for use with non-transferable public transport tickets. It'll cost you around €3.

If you want something that will come with some awesome memories, get an annual subscription to Dublin Bikes, and use the bikes to get around. (Use your Dublin office as your address, and your card can be waiting for you when you get there). It will be the best €20 you spend in Ireland.

Five weeks is definitely long enough to have a preferred local coffee place. Loyalty cards are everywhere in Dublin - buy nine get tenth free type thing. I currently have cards for manicures, beer, a steakhouse, burritos, the cinema, etc, etc. You could collect stamps on a coffee loyalty card and take it home as a memento without redeeming it.

Please do not steal beer glasses from bars.
posted by bimbam at 7:58 AM on June 26, 2014

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