Dublin Travel Guide

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Georgian Door

Georgian Door

Alex Sokolow

Dublin is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, with a population of more than a million people. Plan to stay at least two nights to take advantage of its superb cultural offerings (theatres, museums and bookstores) as well as its lovely parks, friendly pubs, interesting historical sites and vibrant street scenes.

Though the River Liffey is in many ways the artery of the city, pumping with the tides, the riversides are not really exciting. But don’t miss the Four Courts on the north bank of the Liffey designed by the great architect James Gandon, and the Custom House about a mile downstream on the same side of the river.

There is a historical North-South divide in the city, with the River Liffey marking the divide.  The North part of the city has been traditionally working-class while the South has been more affluent.  The distinction has mellowed conisderably in recent years, mostly due to the favourable economic conditions of recent times often referred to as the Celtic Tiger.

On the southside of the river, you'll find some of the most important sights (museums, churches, castles and public buildings) concentrated in a relatively small area. At  College Green there's the Bank of Ireland and Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university. A little further there's Grafton Street, the centre of a luxurious shopping area. There are  craft and food markets in Meeting House Square and Cow Lane at weekends. Other shopping locations include Henry Street in the city centre on the north side of the river. Temple Bar, also south of the Liffey, is home to the biggest concentration of pubs, restaurants, and clubs.  A few very exciting bars are Bobs, Buskers, Farringtons, and Fitzsimon's Bar. Farringtons is the most visited by tourists. Temple Bar is not the only place to go to to find pubs considering they are as frequent in Ireland as Waffle Houses are in the Southeast United States. There are multiple locations on almost every street. Some of the area's clubs include the upbeat Club M and Viperoom. Tourists also enjoy Temple Bar's restaurants. Chameleon, Charlie's 2, and Cafe Topolis represent few of the many cuisines that are offered in Dublin. Some would consider Temple Bar to be the most exciting part of the city.

If you want to have a taste of eating out , you can try one of the pubs. They don't serve anything fancy but simple pub food and often is quite tasty. Here you can also have an Irish beer such as Guinness and sing along with traditional folk music. It's one of the fastest ways to get to know the Irish culture.

The Guinness Storehouse is the most visited attraction in Dublin. The history of Guinness beer is over 250 years old. Every level of the building explains different parts of its history. At the top, there is a bar and a 360 degree view of the entire city.  You can see more of Dublin here than anywhere else in the city. You can see the whole city and look out over the Irish waters. After going through the museum, everyone gets a free Guinness beer or a soft drink. Before the bartenders give the beer to the customer, they make a shamrock in its foam. Guinness beer will probably have a very strong taste for someone who does not usually drink it. Visiting the Guinness Storehouse can really give the tourist a "taste" of Irish culture.

Pub culture is alive and well in Dublin.  Expect to find a pub on almost every corner.  In the evenings, and especially the weekends, many pubs can be packed.  The pubs in the Temple Bar area are particularly tight on the weekends and you may have trouble squeezing in and getting to the bar to order drinks.  Pubs just off the tourist track can be more rewarding, like Cobblestone in Smithfield or M. Hughes on Chancery Street.

O'Connell Street, in the center of Dublin, holds most of the artistic history. One hive of activity is the General Post Office (GPO) which was the main site of the 1916 rebellion, or Easter Rising.  The freedom fighters, led by Padraig Pearse, read "Poblacht na hÉireann" a proclamation of the New Republic to a disbeliving public, and made the GPO the headquarters of the rebellion.  The rising was crushed a few days later and Pearse, along with some of his fellow fighters were executed by the British.  The pillars of the GPO, as well as some of the statuary on O'Connell St., still have bullet holes as a reminder of that time.  The Dublin Writer's Museum consists of literary pieces that are over three hundred years old. Some of the authors of these pieces include Swift, Sheridan, Yeats, Shaw, Wilde, Joyce, and Beckett. There is even a special room devoted to helping children understand the heritage these people left behind. James Joyce has his own museum, the James Joyce Center. For a more thorough acquaintance visit the National Museum and see the portraits of famous Irishmen in the National Art Gallery (free admission). Dublin keeps her dead poets and writers very much alive.

Be careful in Dublin!  Although the Irish are very friendly, Dublin is a city like any other.  Keep an eye on your wallet and bags.  If you leave something down and turn your back for more than a second it'll be gone.  Don't go wandering down dark streets late at night, just be as cautious as you would in any other unknown city in the world.

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