DUBLIN CITY first known as “Eblana” was noted on early maps of Ptolemy in the 2nd century. Later it became known as Dubh-linn meaning “Black Pool”. Its current Irish name is Baile Atha Cliath, meaning “Town of the Ford of the Hurdles”. Dublin is the capital of the Republic of Ireland. It is the resident city of President Mary McAleese and is the place of operation for the Irish Government. Dublin is split by the River Liffey (An Life) and is spanned by ten bridges. The Royal Canal and the Grand Canal provide connections between the port area and the northern and southern branches of the River Shannon.
Dublin is a city steeped in history. Along with its rich past, Dublin has been made famous in song from “Molly Malone” (the Tart with the Cart), to “Summer in Dublin”. It boasts of having the oldest pub in Ireland, “The Brazen Head”, and the oldest university, Trinity College. It is a center of art and culture and is the largest cosmopolitan city in Ireland.
Taking a walking tour of Dublin City Center can be quite intoxicating, even if you bypass all the pubs. Let’s begin our journey north of the River Liffey at the O’Connell Bridge.
O’Connell Street is the main thoroughfare and the widest street. At the south end, is a huge monument of Daniel O’Connell. At the north end of O’Connell Street is a monument of Charles Stewart Parnell. Turn on to Henry Street for High Fashion shopping. On O’Connell Street there used to be a statue of Anna Livia, reclining in the waters of the River Liffey. It seems too many people took advantage of her and nick named her “The Floozie in the Jacuzzi”. She has been moved to a temporary residence at the Croppie Field Memorial grounds off North Quay.
General Post Office (GPO), is located on O’Connell Street. It was the headquarters for the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and the provisional government of Ireland in the 1916 Easter Rising.
Dublin Writers Museum is an 18th century restored mansion located at the north end of Parnell Square. The museum houses the works of some of Ireland’s best writers, including: Behan, Joyce, Shaw, Swift, Widle, and Yeats. It is also home to an impressive collection of painting, photographs, and memorabilia of the various writers.
Gallery of Modern Art is located at the north end of Parnell Square. Guided tours, recitals, and lectures are offered.
Old Jameson Distillery, on Bow Street in Smithfield Village, tells the story of the “Water of Life”. Guided tours are offered in the original distillery and at the end you get a taste.
National Museum of Ireland, at Collins Barracks, includes displays and exhibitions of Ireland’s social economic and military history. Two other locations are noted below.
Phoenix Park is located beside Collins Barracks and is the largest enclosed city park in Europe.
“Aras An Uachtarain” is the official residence of the President of Ireland.
Dublin Zoological Gardens are located at Phoenix Park and is one of the best zoos in Europe. It is home to a wide variety of animals, birds, and reptiles.
Catholic Pro Cathedral, just off Marlborough Street, is architecture worth seeing.
Glasnevin Cemetery is a short bus trip at the top of O’Connell Street near Parnell Square. The cemetery is the largest in Ireland and final resting place for over 1.2 million souls… Daniel O’Connell founded the cemetery with the hopes that people of different faiths could be buried there. Many historical figures include Daniel O’Connell, Charles Stewart Parnell, John Keegan Casey, Roger Casement, and so many others.
Attractions South of the River Liffey:
- Temple Bar Area is the cultural quarter. This is a historical and eclectic area filled with art, theater, music, pubs, cafes, and the highest concentration of restaurants. There is the Market in Meeting House Square with organic foods, unique shops, book and music stores. It also plays host to many open-air events.
- Dublin’s Viking Adventure is a journey back in time when the Vikings occupied the city. It explores how they lived and worked.
- Trinity College is one of the oldest centers of learning, dating back to the 16th century. The library is home to the world renowned 9th century Book of Kells, a Latin text of the four gospels, with meticulous artwork around the borders. The campanile of 1853 is said to mark the site of the monastery of All Hallow, upon which Trinity College was first built.
- Grafton Street is an upscale commercial district, with lots of hip shops, neat pubs, restaurants, music, and interesting side streets to explore.
- National Museum of Archaeology and History is located on Kildare Street. This branch houses artifacts from 2000 B.C. through the 20th century. It includes the National Treasury with many archaeological treasures of Celtic and Medieval art, such as the Ardagh Chalice and Tara Brooch.
- National Museum of Natural History, located on Merrion Square West, houses specimens of wildlife and fauna, animals and mammals.
- National Gallery, located on Merrion Square West, houses many important art exhibits and sculptures by Irish and European artists.
- Guinness Brewery and Hop Shop provides exhibitions and tells of the Guinness Experience over 250 years of history. You end up in the Gravity Bar, with a pint and a great view of Dublin.
- Dublin Castle, dates from the 13th century, when King John built the structure. It was the center of British power until 1922. It is also the Garda Siochana Museum, Police Force of the Republic of Ireland, along with the Irish Constabulary, the Royal Irish Constabulary, The Dublin Police, and the Dublin Metropolitan Police.
- Christchurch Cathedral is Dublin’s oldest place of Christian worship. The Christian Norse, King Sitric, founded it in 1038. Part of the structure goes back to the 12th century. It is presently an Anglican Church.
- St. Patrick’s Cathedral is the National Cathedral for the Anglican Church. Originally built in the 12th century, it is the burial site of Jonathan Swift, a former Dean and author of “Gulliver’s Travels”.
- Marsh’s Library located beside St. Patrick’s was the first public library in Ireland. It houses several thousand volumes dating back to the 16th century.
- Merrion Square is an upscale area with fine townhouses and the “Georgian Doors”. The park is open to the public.
Additional notes on Dublin: the Irish are more casual than many other nationalities. If you are looking to enjoy the nightlife scene, you will want to dress properly. Smart casual is best. A lot of dancing goes on at various clubs so you might want to have your dancing shoes on as well. Dublin is a great walking city; however, if you have been out all day or are a bit tipsy, you might want to hire a taxi. Two or more people will usually get quicker service. There is also good bus service, NiteLink, makes runs on the main roads out of Dublin, each hour beginning around 12:30 AM. The last DART departs Connelly Station around 11:00PM. If you are looking for an elevator in any building, you won’t find one. They are referred to as “lifts”.
It is customary in pubs, anywhere in Ireland, for each person to purchase a “round” of drinks instead of each one paying individually. Everyone takes a turn. It used to be customary for women to remain in the lounge part of the pub. In Dublin, that is no longer the case. However, it may still be the norm in some parts of the countryside.
The drinking age in Ireland is 18. Stout/beer comes in two sizes, a pint and a glass. If you ask for a pint, usually you will be served Guinness. Ask for a glass if you don’t want a full pint. You might run into a “snug” in a pub. This is a little room off to the side that offers a bit more privacy. Pubs stop serving at 11:30 PM in the summer and a bit earlier in the winter. You have another half-hour to finish your drink.
All kinds of music abound in Dublin, including American Country-Western, Classical, Jazz, Rock and Traditional Irish known as a “session”. There are several entertainment newspapers circulated throughout the city, which provide excellent entertainment information.