Culture Near You is an online map of culture in Dublin. We’re constantly adding to this cultural map so we get to meet lots of the great people featured, and we thought you might like to meet them too!
For this blog series, we’re meeting the makers, the movers and shakers, the partakers, and the doers of the map - to find out more about what they do in the city. You can find out more about Culture Near You and how to get involved here.
Anthony is a Tour Guide with In Our Shoes - a walking tour of the Liberties area of Dublin which takes in some hidden gems, well-known sights, and explores local folklore and history.
Below Anthony tells us about his favourite stops, what visitors on a tour might expect, and shared a very surprising Dublin fact!
Tell us a bit about yourself, and your role as a Tour Guide at In Our Shoes.
I’m Anthony - born and bred in the Liberties, in the heart of Dublin and proud of where I’m from. It’s important that people from the area have a voice and are able to control the conversation that is happening around the area. That’s what In Our Shoes Walking Tours does for me and I think that’s really important.
How did the idea for In Our Shoes come about, and what can visitors on the tour expect?
The idea of In Our Shoes Walking Tours is to help locals tap into the tourism industry.
Our social enterprise is a responsible tourism initiative by Robert Emmet Community Development Project - training local unemployed people within Dublin 8 as walking tour guides, in one of Ireland's most visited parts of Dublin. (Let’s face it, if we had a euro for every tourist we pointed towards Guinness, we’d be millionaires!)
In Our Shoes invites visitors to uncover secrets and discover a community, off the beaten track, through local history and folklore, across famous & hidden landmarks and through high streets and back laneways.
Why did you decide to become a Guide, and what do you enjoy most about your role?
It changed my life. I grew up with social anxiety, I was never that great in school, trying to find work was difficult and I generally had a feeling of not being good enough. But stepping into Robert Emmet Community Development Project and committing to In Our Shoes Walking Tours turned my life 360.
The faith they had in me encouraged me more. I still get imposter syndrome delivering tours sometimes but now I enjoy everything and I am confident in who I am. Being a guide at In Our Shoes has also opened up so many opportunities such as designing Christmas cards and even becoming a beekeeper!
The thing I enjoy most about my role is showing people that we are in the community. Showing visitors the history is important too but also showing visitors that people live here is just as important – a village full of families – guests go away feeling the Liberties is a strong community.
What is your favourite stop on the tour and why?
It may have to be Liberty Market - one of Dublin's longest running markets.
Located on Meath Street, it's a treasure trove packed from floor to ceiling with household goods, clothing, food, books, handbags, beauty products and toys. It’s a chance for visitors to experience real Dublin at its non-touristy best.
My second favourite stop – if I’m allowed to cheat here and throw another one in – is the Grotto on Meath Street. I don’t think anyone ever expects to see a grotto in the city centre. It’s such a peaceful stop – you can’t hear the hustle and bustle from the world around you when stopping here.
Do you have a favourite Dublin fact?
Dublin has its very own version of Tom and Jerry. Christ Church Cathedral in Dublin 8 found a perfectly preserved cast of a cat chasing a rat. They decided to exhibit them in a glass and nicknamed them Tom and Jerry. Since then, they became a very popular attraction! You can still see them in the crypt of Christ Church Cathedral.
What’s your favourite thing to do in Dublin? (This can be anything from a place to visit, or an activity - from nature, sport, food, cultural activities - anything goes.)
NCAD would be one of them! I have a big passion for art, so for me it’s a great place to walk through and draw, paint and create. With creative people and ideas all around you, it’s a great place for inspiration.
Lastly, what has been your favourite or most surprising discovery on the Culture Near You map so far?
Seeing a specially commissioned portrait of Ellie Kisyombe, a Dublin 'Local Hero'. As I mentioned earlier, I’m a big art fan and seeing a portrait highlighting a community-driven non-profit project as a response to the ban on asylum seekers cooking for themselves is very important for people to see and understand.
Anthony was born and raised in The Liberties - right in the heart of Dublin.
As well as being a tour guide at In Our Shoes Walking Tours, he’s an art enthusiast and a budding beekeeper. He’s very passionate about the community and believes it's at the centre of all that we do.