If you are planning on visiting Dublin for Christmas make sure that you are either staying with friends or family, staying at a hotel that is going to be open or a self catering property like those advertised on a holiday homes website like jmlvillas.com for example.
Unlike France, Italy or England it is very difficult to actually eat out, or even get a drink on Christmas day. The reason is that traditionally it is a day when a family is meant to be together.
I tried in both 2007 and 2008 to find a restaurant or hotel that was open for Christmas lunch. It is nearly impossible.
Most hotels close early afternoon on Christmas Eve and don't usually open again till lunchtime on the day after St Stephens Day (Boxing day) the 27th. The pubs will close early on Christmas Eve and some will open on St Stephens Day. Many Guest Houses and bed and breakfast establishments also closed.
A lot of bar staff in Ireland used to be members of a union and it was agreed therefore that pubs would not open. Although the situation with staff will have changed a lot today, the same rules apply to opening. They don't!!
I discovered that a hotel in Drumcondra on the way to the airport is open for Christmas Lunch, however their arrangements included a small entertainment variety show. A hotel that is part of an American chain was open as well in the centre for a 4 course brunch. The price quoted was 160 euro per person without drink or service charges. They had two sittings and if you were a family of five after spending nearly a thousand euro taking the first sitting you would have to vacate quite quickly to let the second sitting take over.
Another hotel in the centre near Grafton Street that is Irish owned was also open, but by coincidence the price was exactly the same.
Looking outside Dublin, hotels around the country that were open and took guests for 2 or 3 nights were generally much more expensive than they would normally be. I stayed at a fabulous hotel on the west coat for the second time last June. Like the others I discovered their Christmas break prices had gone up considerably.
With the credit crunch biting hard in Ireland, it will be interesting to see if this changes for Christmas 2009.
If you are thinking of taking a break in Ireland over Christmas all of this is worth considering as the only place you might find open on Christmas day is the odd Chinese restaurant or petrol service station.