Mrs Beoirgra and I stayed in the Annally B&B on the basis that we wanted to experience a sense of what it is like for normal Dubliners away from the noise and chaos of Dublin city centre. One of the results of Ireland's growth and economic strength in recent years is that Dublin city centre has become very much like many major cities throughout Europe. Don't get me wrong - it still retains many of the charms I enjoyed frequently whilst staying there as a child, but like all places of beauty and historical interest, these charms come at a price. Accommodation in Dublin city centre is great if you like the sterile and rather hands-off hotel chains, or the scruffy and bustling hostels. But if you want to experience the 'real life' of Dubliners outside of the city centre, then the Annally B&B is the best place I can think of.
Situated in the charming suburb of Raheny, north-east of Dublin centre, and perfectly placed between the city and the coastal delights of nearby Howth, the Annally B&B is easily accessed by the Dart train service. The rooms are lovely and comfortable with a very 'home' feel to them, and the local pubs are inviting and contain a host of lovely locals.
And this is where we get on to the real reason why I always want to stay at the Annally when visiting Dublin - the owners Bill and Kathleen. A nicer, more helpful, professional and funny couple you would hard-pressed to ever meet again. My attitude to B&Bs is that really I want to be left alone to unpack, and then go and see the sights. But Bill and Kathleen are so utterly charming that you may find yourself spending all your time nattering with them! (Though of course, they leave you to it when you need space and privacy). As others have noted, they cannot do enough to help you. Bill picked us up from the train station, and then dropped us off in Howth, and then DEMANDED that he pick us up. As it happens the trains, buses and taxis in the area meant that wasn't necessary, but Bill was insistant that he help us as much as possible.
The breakfasts are delightful - except Bill had cooked some of his lovely bacon for a traditional Irish breakfast, whereas myself and Mrs Beoirgra do not eat pork. The look of sheer pity on Bill's face is testament to the quality of the breakfast, I feel.
As I have said, there are plenty of places to stay in Dublin centre if you so wish, but if you want to taste real Ireland, real Dubliners and a sense of real life in this most beautiful city, Annally is the place to stay. If I could stay in an equivalent of Annally in every major city in Europe, I would be taking city breaks a great deal more often.