Sometimes when you watch movies you get a glimpse of far away places. I recall watching scenes of rolling green fields, gray stone walls, lively pubs with good music and company, ancient castles, and ...Read more
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Dublin is Ireland's capital city and a vibrant metropolis where over a quarter of the country's population lives. Dublin remains an intimate European capital city, rich in its cultural heritage and offers visitors much in terms of local charm from touring historical castles to cozy conversations over pints in traditional pubs. Located along the banks of the river Liffey on Ireland's east coast at Dublin Bay, Dublin is divided into two distinct areas, the south side of the river and the north side of the river. To the north is the main boulevard called O'Connell Street where the majority of shopping streets are located. Along the south side of the city is where you'll find such sights as Trinity College, St. Patrick's Cathedral, Grafton Street and the popular Temple Bar area. With all of its charms and quirks, Dublin is a proud city and a favorite for many travelers.
This Irish gem of a city is considered a cosmopolitan capital, but the heart of Dublin can be experienced through the many historical attractions and the local cultural traditions. Discover the city's rich literary history at the Dublin Writers Museum, which showcases the lives of distinguished local writers such as James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw and W.B. Yeates. The many museums from the National Gallery of Ireland to the National Museum of Ireland are all extensive in their collections.
Entertainment options abound in Dublin. Those looking for a night on the town don't have to look too far. Once named the number one party city, Dublin has its fair share of clubs, bars and pubs. Of course, the city has many traditional Irish pubs offering charming interiors, locally brewed pints of beer and live musical entertainment. Dublin is a great city to travel by on foot through the neighborhoods on each side of the river Liffey with an inviting culture, a rich history and the green countryside that Ireland is so famous for.
Dublin, Ireland, is the small, charming, eminently walkable city that visitors expect, and the corner pubs offer a warm welcome. Wry perceptions are uttered with a winsome Irish lilt in Dublin. And, as visitors stroll along the city's handsome Georgian squares, they'll realize the necessity of an umbrella.
But today's Dublin also includes tech companies, many of them located in the lovely Georgian houses that line the city's streets. High-rises, cosmopolitan restaurants and hotels continue to spring up next door to traditional taverns and friendly guesthouses, and a beehive of construction work aimed at improving the city's infrastructure buzzes around them.
Dublin is a city in transition, from medieval capital to exciting commercial center—a hip, electric city, astonishing even visitors who make it their business to stay on Europe's cutting edge. Dublin's unpretentious charm is still there, but chic urbanity has moved in beside it. Now known for its vibrant nightlife, Dublin has become a favorite city-break destination for young European visitors. Visitors could spend a week in Dublin and still not cover all the attractions.
Sights—Ancient Christ Church Cathedral; the 18th-century Georgian architecture of Merrion Square; the beautiful Book of Kells at Trinity College; St. Patrick's Cathedral, where the namesake saint baptized converts to Christianity at a well; Dublin Castle, with its elegant State Apartments.
Museums—The National Museum of Ireland's sites at Collins Barracks and Kildare Street; the impressive collection at the Irish Museum of Modern Art; the Dublin Writers Museum; Dublin City Gallery: The Hugh Lane; Dublinia, the Viking heritage center; The Chester Beatty Library, with its magnificent Asian art holdings.
Memorable Meals—Fresh Irish fare with a French twist at One Pico; modern Irish cooking at L'Ecrivain; lunches of fresh fish and seafood at Cavistons Food Emporium in Sandycove.
Late Night—A potent poitin (which is all the rage) at Bar 1661; mixing with the locals at Mulligans; listening to an up-and-coming Irish band at Whelan's; relaxing in a private booth at Kehoe's; laughing at the alternative comedians at the International Comedy Club; a visit through the cemetery to Kavanagh's (The Gravediggers)—it's a must on anyone's travel bucket list.
Walks—Enjoying breathtaking vistas of Dublin and Wicklow while hiking the Wicklow Way from Marlay Park; meandering through Temple Bar; strolling through the People's Park enjoying spectacular views of Dun Laoghaire; walking around the Baily Lighthouse near Howth; along the North and South Bull Walls or Dun Laoghaire piers.
Especially for Kids—Farmleigh and the Dublin Zoo, both in Phoenix Park; the Viking Splash Tour; Liffey River Cruises; the wonderful playground at Malahide Castle, including the Fry Model Railway Museum.
Dublin is situated on the east coast of Ireland. Its famed river, the Liffey, cuts through the center of the city and empties into Dublin Bay, dividing the city into north and south. On the north side are 18th-century architectural masterpieces—the Custom House and the Four Courts—and also the historic thoroughfare of O'Connell Street. At the northern end of O'Connell Street are Parnell Square and the Gate Theatre. The Abbey Theatre is east of O'Connell Street. South of the Liffey are Trinity College, the trendy (but old) streets of Temple Bar, the fine Georgian buildings of St. Stephen's Green, Grafton Street's upscale stores and restaurants, and most hotels.
Postal codes help serve as indicators of general location within Dublin, and most addresses incorporate them. With very few exceptions, odd-numbered postal codes are used to designate areas north of the Liffey. Even-numbered ones are south of the river. As examples, addresses in Dublin 1 are just north of the river; those in Dublin 2 are immediately south. County Dublin represents the Dublin metropolitan area north and south of the city. Addresses in County Dublin include the name of the village (Dalkey, for example), followed by the abbreviation "Co. Dublin."
Dublin's history is one marked by a tragic influx of conquerors. When the pagan Celts arrived from the European continent sometime around 600 BC, some of them settled on the banks of the Liffey and named the area Baile Atha Cliath (meaning the "ford of hurdles"—the name is still visible on buses and license plates).
In the fifth century, Christianity began to sweep across the island, led by the conversion efforts of St. Patrick. Religious scholarship flourished in Ireland until the ninth century, when Viking invaders wreaked havoc on the Emerald Isle and firmly established the city of Dublin. In 1014, the Vikings were defeated by the Irish king Brian Boru in the Battle of Clontarf, but it wasn't long after that the British took an interest in their western neighbor.
In the late 12th century, England's King Henry II sent his well-disciplined army of Anglo-Normans to Ireland, claiming sovereignty over Dublin and the surrounding area. After triumph in the English civil war in the mid-1600s, the Protestant Oliver Cromwell also took control of Dublin, precipitating a power struggle between Catholics and Protestants that has continued to the present day.
As the seat of English rule in Ireland, the town prospered. An 18th-century economic boom fostered a Georgian architectural expansion still evident in the city. At the beginning of the 19th century, however, the Act of Union between England and Ireland abolished the Irish parliament, and many of the city's aristocrats left for England. This mass exodus was accentuated by the Great Famine of the 1840s and '50s, when 2 million Irish people either died of starvation or moved abroad as a result of a far-reaching potato blight and staple-crop failure. Emigration continued over the next century, dramatically reducing the population and inflaming a movement for Irish independence (or Home Rule) from Britain.
During Easter of 1916, a band of Irish rebels led by James Connolly and Patrick Pearse took over Dublin's General Post Office and proclaimed an Irish republic in what became known as the Easter Rising. The British subsequently executed most of the rebel leaders, enraging many Dubliners who had been less enthusiastic about independence. On 6 December 1921, the Irish Free State was finally established. A bitter civil war immediately followed, leaving Dublin in ruin. The conflict ended in a partition of Ireland: The 26 southern counties gained their independence, but six counties known as Northern Ireland remained part of the U.K.
Dubliners rebuilt their city, and after seven turbulent and impoverished decades, they experienced an economic upturn in the 1990s. Many former emigrants returned to their native land. With them came immigrants from eastern Europe, Africa and Asia, giving Ireland its first experience of being a multicultural society. An abundance of restaurants, pubs and hotels cropped up, reflecting the increasingly cosmopolitan tastes and spending power of the local populace. The city's expansion and resurgence is still going strong.
But the capital has struggled with its growth. A hyperinflated property market has left many burdened by huge mortgages. Affordable housing is hard to come by—in fact, the city is one of the world's most expensive places to rent. During the prosperous early 2000s, Dubliners developed expensive lifestyles, which are now financed through credit-card spending—giving the Irish one of the highest levels of personal debt in Europe. The Irish travel frequently, especially to southern Europe and the U.S., in search of bargains. Fiscal conservation is under way as the country is struggling with a currency crisis and Ireland attempts to stabilize its economy.
Killiney and neighboring Dalkey form "the Beverly Hills of Ireland." George Bernard Shaw was from there, and residents have included Bono and The Edge from the band U2, singers Sinead O'Connor, Van Morrison, Enya and filmmaker Neil Jordan. Internationally renowned writer Maeve Binchy was born there and lived there until her death in 2012.
At noon and 6 pm, the national broadcaster RTE stops all TV and radio programs on its main stations to play "the Angelus," a one-minute recording of church bells, to allow people to say their daily prayers. The tradition is a vestige of the institutional power held by the Catholic Church in the days when the station was founded.
Stay alert to pick up a few Dublin words and phrases such as me old segosha (my old friend); craic (fun, good conversation and entertainment); holliers (holidays); and the mott (a girlfriend or wife).
Because of the smoking ban in workplaces and public venues, the Irish have developed the custom of "smirting"—smoking and flirting with people they meet outdoors. The term is said to have originated in Dublin's nightclub-rich Temple Bar district.
Dublin's most notable statues are given nicknames that are usually rhyming and often politically incorrect. A statue of Molly Malone near Grafton Street is called "the tart with a cart" or "the dish with the fish." The Anna Livia statue, a woman sitting in a fountain to represent the spirit of the River Liffey, was unveiled in 1988 and promptly became "the floozy in the Jacuzzi"—or even more impolitely "the hoo-er in the sewer." The sculpture attracted so much abuse from pranksters that it was replaced by the Millennium Spire, soon known as "the stiletto in the ghetto," among other names. In the Grand Canal Basin, just off Pearse Street, the floating cubic building—officially known as the Waterways Ireland Visitors Centre—is affectionately referred to as "the box in the docks."
Dublin's O'Connell Bridge, which spans the River Liffey and connects the north and south sides of the city, is known for being the only bridge in Europe that is just as wide as it is long. What's more, it's not the only O'Connell Bridge in the city; the other can be found in St. Stephen's Green, where it dramatically spans a pond.
Dublin's Trinity College is probably best known as the home of the legendary Book of Kells. Its lengthy list of notable alumni, however, includes Jonathan Swift, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and even Bram Stoker, author of Dracula, who was born in Dublin.
Dublin Port Authority books approximately 125 cruise ships and welcomes more than 442,000 passengers each year.
Smaller liners can dock on the River Liffey, and large ships dock at Alexandra Quay, an area more suited to cargo ships. There's not much when you disembark, as the area is virtually all industrial, so your best bet is to take one of the shuttle buses or a cab into town. The entire Quay is experiencing redevelopment, including facility updates and other improvements, but work is likely to be ongoing for several years.
Dublin Port is centrally located, only minutes from Dublin city center and major tourist attractions. The port is also within walking distance of the Georgian-style 1791 Customs House, where you can stroll through the arcades and pavilions.
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