GETTING THERE: The cheapest fares to Dublin for June and July are about $822 round trip, on American from Reagan National via New York, with restrictions. Aer Lingus has a rate of $855 round trip from BWI. Prices drop sharply after Sept. 1.
WHERE TO STAY: A good budget option is Egans House Hotel (7 Iona Park, 011-3531-830-3611, www.eganshouse.com), a clean, well-run guesthouse in a quiet neighborhood 15 minutes by bus from central Dublin. Rates, including a hearty breakfast, start at around $50 a night double. With spacious bedrooms, art-filled common areas, a spa and a lively bar, the Merrion Hotel (Upper Merrion Street, 011-3531-603-0600, www.merrionhotel.com) is one of the city's most elegant hotels. It is also home to Patrick Guilbaud, widely regarded as one of the finest restaurants in Dublin. For guests interested in James Joyce, the hotel is offering a special package in July and August: doubles for $159 a night with a two-night minimum stay, including an Irish breakfast, a Joyce walking tour and a CD.
WHAT TO DO:
* The Irish Tourist Board is featuring readings, tours and dozens of other events all summer to mark the 100th anniversary of Bloomsday. Info: www.rejoycedublin2004.com. Maps ($1.20) featuring a self-guided walking tour of Leopold Bloom's sojourn through the city are available at the museum, the tourism office and other places around town. For those who want deeper background and more options for self-guided tours, one excellent resource is "The Ulysses Guide: Tours Through Joyce's Dublin" (New Island Books Press), by Joyce expert Robert Nicholson; it costs $12 at the Dublin Writers Museum (see below).
* The James Joyce Museum (Joyce Tower, 011-353-1280-9265; about $7.50), 20 minutes outside the city in Sandycove, is worth a tour.
* The Dublin Writers Museum (18 Parnell Sq. N, 011-353-1872- 2077, www.writersmuseum.com; $7.50) offers a great overview of Ireland's literary history.
* For guided tours on literature, architecture or other subjects, I recommend Dublin Footsteps Walking Tours (23A Cowper Rd., 011-353-1496-0641); two-hour excursions cost $11 and include a cup of tea.
INFO: Tourism Ireland, 800-223-6470, www.irelandvacations.com. Dublin Tourism, 011-353-1605-7700, www.visitdublin.com.
-- Gary Lee