Dublin’s Fair City
Welcome to Dublin, the capital of Ireland. Famous for its easy going charm and cultural heritage, Dublin is also the capital of The Craic (pronounce ‘crack’), the art of life. Famous Dublin sons such as writers Oscar Wilde, James Joyce and Jonathan Swift had it, playwright Samuel Beckett had it, and so have more contemporary cultural ambassadors such as U2. The city is steeped in rich history, starting with the Vikings laying its first streets. Through the centuries, The Craic and an unruly artistic streak have helped shape Dublin into what it is now: A vibrant capital that moves at an easy going pace.
Dublin is located on the East Coast of Ireland, stretching along the Irish Sea in a half moon shape. The city is bordered to the South by the dramatic Wicklow Mountains.
Meet The Natives: The Dubliners
As a city, Dublin’s character is firmly shaped by its people. Dubliners are a friendly and mildly inquisitive lot. Rarely will you venture into a pub without somebody standing near you striking up a conversation. If you ever find yourself lost, ask somebody and more than likely you’ll be greeted with a little friendly chat. Dubliners are also known for their sharp wit and deadpan humour. Any bookshop in Ireland will sell you books of ‘Dublin Humour’.
With three of Ireland’s largest universities in town, Dublin is a very young city. Part of Dublin’s charm is that all ages and all walks of life mix together. Particularly at night time, this mix makes for a lively and welcoming atmosphere in Dublin’s myriad pubs, bars, restaurants, clubs and concert venues.
The language spoken in Dublin is English. Street signs and official buildings are signposted in both English and Gaelic, the indigenous Irish language. Despite this, you are highly unlikely to hear any Gaelic spoken on your travels across town. You are, however, likely to come across a lot of cursing in casual conversations. IRelax, it does not carry the same connotations it might in other languages.
The currency in use in Ireland is the Euro. Cash machines (ATMs) are widely available. Bank opening hours are typically between 10:00-16:00 Mondays to Fridays. Most hotels, shops, restaurants and some bars accept all major credit cards. Visa and Master Card are the most widely used credit cards in Ireland. If you plan on visiting a pub it is advisable to bring some cash. You will also need cash for taxis and most public transport.
Shops are typically open from 9:00-18:00 Mondays to Saturdays. Many shops are open late on Thursdays and Fridays (typically up to 20:00) and a good number is also open from 12:00-18:00 on Sundays. Pubs open at 10:30 and close at 23:30 Mondays to Thursdays, 0:30 on Fridays and Saturdays. On Sundays, pubs open 12:30 and close at 23:30. Clubs and late night bars typically stay open until 2:30.
Dublin’s Two Halfs: North- And Southside
Dublin is a city of two halfs, the Northside and the Southside, divided by the River Liffey in the city centre. The Northside is generally more working class, the Southside is more upmarket. Exceptions apply, but by and large this is a good rule of thumb to apply when exploring the city. Dubliners on both sides can get very passionate about this division and it is the basis of many a joke or smart remark you may overhear in conversation.
The Northside of the city is home to the main thoroughfare of Dublin, O’Connell Street, running north-south from Parnell Square, the city’s most expensive address in the late 17th century, all the way to the Liffey. The central location of the 1916 Rising, the General Post Office (GPO to Dubliners), is located halfway down O’Connell Street. Henry Street off O’Connell Street is a popular shopping district. Only in Dublin could you find a traditional vegetable market in the middle of it all: Turn off Henry Street into Moore Street and mix with the hustle and bustle of a working street market.
The Northside is also home to many museums, theatres, Croke Park Stadium and to Phoenix Park, Europe’s largest city park which houses Dublin Zoo.
On the Southside, you find the bohemian Temple Bar district with its galleries and nightlife the main shopping area centred around Grafton Street and the delightful park Saint Stephens Green. In general, you find more trendy and unusual shops in the backstreets to the West of Grafton Street, particularly on Clarendon Street, William Street South, Drury Street and Wicklow Street and Exchequer Street to the North.
The Southside is also home to Ireland’s oldest and most famous university, Trinity College, the Government Buildings, Dublin Castle, Lansdowne Road Stadium and the oldest parts of the city around Christchurch Cathedral and St Patrick’s Cathedral.
Venture South along Dublin Bay and you will come to some of Dublin’s most picturesque spots. The scenery changes rapidly from flat sandy beaches to rocky cliffs and coves harbouring picture perfect seaside towns and harbours. Sandycove, Dalkey and Killiney have presevered an old world charm. On a sunny day, you can even find an almost Mediterranean atmosphere here. To the North of Dublin you find Howth, a major fishing harbour and Malahide, a quaint seaside town with a park and romantic 19th century castle.
Here are ten trivia facts about Dublin’s fair city
1.The name for Dublin in the Irish language is both Dubh Linn and Baile Átha Cliath. While walking around Dublin you’re more likely to see the latter on road signs. The literal meaning of Átha Cliath is “Ford of the Reed Hurdles.”
Dublin or Dubh Linn is derived from the Old Irish Gaelic, which has its literal meaning “Black Pool”. The Dubh Linn was a lake used by the Vikings to moor their trade ships and was connected to the Liffey by the River Poddle.
2. The city of Dublin covers a land area of 44.5 square miles. The average temperature in January is 41°F and the July Average is 63°F. It is estimated that 50% of the city’s residents are under-25 years of age. My advice dress warmly and party hard.
3. Dublin is twinned to cities Barcelona in Catalonia, Spain, Liverpool in the United Kingdom and San Jose, in California.
4. Dublin’s O’Connell Bridge that covers the famed River Liffey is reckoned to be the only bridge in the European continent that has the same width as its length.
This present concrete structure was built in 1863, replacing a wooden bridge built in 1801. Amazingly, prior to that time, O’Connell Bridge was a rope structure that could only carry one person and a donkey at a time.
5. Dublin has a renowned history in the Literary and Movie World with celebrated native names such George Bernard Shaw (dramatist, critic & Nobel Prize winner), James Joyce (writer and poet and writer of Ulysses), Oscar Wilde (playwright, poet, essayist & novelist) and Dracula creator Bram Stoker to name but a few. Prominent Hollywood Actors hailing from the city include Maureen O’Hara, Brendan Gleeson, Gabriel Byrne and Colin Farrell.
6. The “Oldest Pub in Ireland” is reputed to be located in Dublin. The pub is called the Brazen Head. There has been a pub on this site since 1198.
7. Handel’s classic “Messiah” was premiered for the first time in 1742 in Dublin at the New Music Hall in Fishamble Street, with 26 boys and five men from the St Patrick’s and Christchurch choir cathedrals taking part.
8. Dublin is home to many of Ireland’s most famous musicians, from the Dubliners and Thin Lizzy to Sinead O’Connor and U2.
Many of U2’s back catalogue of albums were recorded in their home city. Windmill Lane Studios was the place where U2 recorded their early work and first three albums. The site at Windmill Lane Studios is covered in graffiti from fans that have paid pilgrimage from all over the world and is known as the “U2 Wall.”
9. Trinity College, the ancient Dublin university set up at the request of Queen Elizabeth I, has had some memorable graduates including Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift and, surprisingly, Bram Stoker, creator of Dracula.
10. None of the so-called Dublin Mountains is high enough to meet the criteria required to claim mountain status. The Sugarloaf is the tallest ‘Dublin Mountain’ yet measures a mere 423.3 meters above sea level.