Top-Rated Tourist Attractions in Dublin
Dublin (Baile Atha Cliath, "Town of the Hurdle Ford", or Dubhlinn, "Dark Pool") lies in the wide sweep of Dublin Bay, between the rocky promontory of Howth in the north and the headland of Dalkey to the south. The River Liffey, which flows into the harbor, divides the city into a northern and a southern half. A major part of the inner city lies on the right bank in the south, bordered by fine parklands, and another nucleus is situated on the north bank. Both are linked by several bridges, the most important of which is the O'Connell Bridge. Upstream the Father Matthew Bridge marks the position of the ancient ford over the Liffey.
Dublin, the capital of the Republic of Ireland, was, centuries ago, the only real metropolis in the British Isles apart from London. In spite of the vicissitudes of Irish history, which have inevitably had their effect on the city, it has preserved all the air of a capital in its atmosphere and the way of life of its citizens.
The architectural character of Dublin is set not only by the numerous public buildings of the 18th and early 19th century, whose neo-Classical facades and domes bear witness to the skills of architects such as Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, Richard Cassels, Thomas Cooley, James Gandon and Francis Johnston, but also by the numerous private houses of the same period, in a plain but elegant style which gives architectural unity to street after street. Many of these houses have already disappeared and others are threatened with destruction. The city is in an age of change - the result of the still recent achievement of independence and also of new and closer links with other countries, combined with a modest but growing prosperity. Old buildings which have fallen into a state of disrepair are being pulled down and replaced by new but not usually better ones. Nevertheless there is also a recognition of the values which many of these older buildings represent, and efforts are being made to save them and adapt them to serve new purposes.
The oldest Irish name of the city and the one still generally used, Baile Atha Cliath, refers to the ancient ford which crossed the Liffey here. The place is mentioned by the classical geographer Ptolemy in A.D. 140 under the name of Eblana. St Patrick is believed to have visited Dublin in 448 and converted many of the inhabitants. Subsequently a Christian community grew up around the ford; then in 840 a first party of Danes occupied the town and established a fortified base for their raiding and trading activities. In 988 the Irish king Mael Sechnaill II captured the town and in 1014 the High King Brian Boru broke the power of the Danes by his victory at nearby Clontarf (now a suburb of the city). It was not until 1170 however that the Danes were finally driven out by the Anglo-Normans. Two years later Henry II came to Dublin to receive the homage of the Irish chieftains. The town now became the capital of the area under English control, the Pale (from 'palisade'), which was defended by the castles of Anglo-Norman knights. During the conflicts of the 15th and 16th century the Dubliners usually supported the opponents of the English king. In the 17th century, however, they sided with the Royalists against Cromwell - who captured the town in 1649 - and later with James II against William of Orange.
In 1697 public street lighting was introduced.
In the 18th century Dublin prospered, and the population rose from 65,000 to 200,000. A Wide Street Commission and a Paving Board were established to promote the development and improvement of the city, and there was a great boom in building both by public authorities and by Dublin's prosperous citizens.
At the beginning of the 19th century a brief period of independence was brought to an end by the political union with Great Britain. There followed a time of repression and resistance: in 1844 the Lord Mayor of Dublin, Daniel O'Connell, was imprisoned for "incitement to discontent", and a few years later the leaders of the Land League movement, among them Charles Stewart Parnell, were thrown into Kilmainham Jail. Political assassinations were carried out by a secret society, and separatist agitation grew.
In 1916 the Easter Rising took place in Dublin, and the General Post Office and other public buildings were occupied by the rebels. In 1919, on the initiative of the Sinn Féin (We Ourselves) movement, an independent parliament met in the Mansion House, presided over by Eamon de Valera. On May 25, 1921, during the Civil War, the Custom House was set on fire. In spite of the ratification of the treaty of January 1922, which established the Irish Free State, domestic conflict continued in Dublin until 1927. It was not until 1931 that most of the public buildings were restored.
During the Second World War Ireland remained neutral. In 1941, however, some German bombs were dropped in error on Dublin.
Tourist Trails: A number of Tourist Trails are signposted in the city center; a brochure about them can be obtained from Tourist Information Offices.
Street names are shown in both English and Irish. In many of the older streets the houses are still numbered in a continuous sequence, up one side and down the other.
Sightseeing in Dublin: Although apart from the two cathedrals few Dublin buildings are older than the 18th century, the city's handsome Georgian streets and squares, its public buildings, museums and libraries offer so much of interest that they are best seen in a series of separate tours.
Air traffic: Dublin International Airport is 5mi/8km north of the city on the N1; there is a city center terminal in the Bus Station (Busarus), Store Street.
Rail traffic: There are two main railroad stations, Heuston Station at Heuston Bridge (Kingsbridge) with services to Cork, Limerick, Galway, Waterford and Westport, and Connolly Station in Amiens Street with services to Belfast, Sligo and Wexford. There is a direct bus service between the two stations.
Ferries: The terminal for the car ferry service between Dublin and Liverpool is reached by East Wall and Alexandra Road. Sailings to Holyhead in summer.
Bus services: Most city and suburban bus services pass through the city center. Long-distance services start from the Bus Station (Busarus) in Store Street.
Main post office: The General Post Office is in O'Connell Street, at the corner of Henry Street. Poste restante mail can be collected between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m.
Bank of Ireland
National Musuem of Ireland
Behind Leinster House, to the left, is Dublin's National Gallery, with the entrance in Merrion Square, to the southeast. Originally opened in 1864, the gallery has since been extended, most recently in 1968.
The gallery has large numbers of portraits. The older portraits of prominent figures in Irish history, formerly hung in the front rooms, are now in Malahide Castle, 9mi/14km north of Dublin. The more recent ones, including portraits of Brendan Behan, Roger Casement, Eamon de Valera, James Joyce, Sean O'Casey, George Bernard Shaw, J. M. Synge, Oscar Wilde, Charles Stuart Parnell and W. B. Yeats, are in Room 14 (reached from Room 1A).
There are also a fine collection of miniatures (Room 29), a series of portrait miniatures on the upper ground floor and an important collection of water-colors, also on the upper ground floor (Room 32), which can be seen only by appointment.
Distributed throughout these rooms are sculptures from the 16th century to the present day, including works by Auguste Rodin and Aristide Maillol.
On the ground floor of the gallery are a book counter and a restaurant, and in the basement a library and lecture hall.
In addition to representative works by Irish painters the collection, displayed on the ground and upper floors, includes works by American, British, Dutch, Flemish, French, German, Italian and Spanish artists.
Among them are:
Irish: George Barrett, James Barry, Francis Danby, Nathaniel Hone the Elder and Younger, Robert Hunter, James Latham, James Arthur O'Connor, Walter Osborne, Thomas Roberts, Patrick Tuohy, Jack Butler Yeats (W. B. Yeats's brother), John Butler Yeats (the poet's father).
American: J. S. Sargent, Gilbert Stuart, Benjamin West, J. M. Whistler.
British: John Constable, Thomas Gainsborough, William Hogarth, Thomas Lawrence, Henry Raeburn, Joshua Reynolds, William Turner.
Dutch: Peter Claesz, Jan van Goyen, Pieter de Hooch, Jan Steen, Rembrandt van Rijn, Salomon and Jacob van Ruisdael, Emanuel de Witte.
Flemish: Gerard David, Anthony Van Dyck, Jacob Jordaens, Rubens, Jan Van Scorel, David Teniers the Younger.
French: Camille Corot, Edgar Degas, Eugène Delacroix, Claude Lorrain, Jean-Francois Millet, Claude Monet, Alfred Sisley.
German: Lucas Cranach the Elder, Wolfgang Huber.
Italian: Fra Angelico, Giovanni Bellini, Michelangelo, Tintoretto, Titian, Paolo Veronese.
Spanish: Francisco de Goya, El Greco, Bartolomé Esteban Murillo, Francisco de Zurbarán.
Number 29 Merrion Square
Natural History Museum
St Stephen's Green
Opposite Ely House in Dublin, Hume Street leads to the east side of St Stephen's Green, a 20ac/9ha park laid out in 1880 at Arthur Guiness's expense, with flower beds, ponds and a variety of monuments, including a fountain ("The Three Fates") by Joseph Wackerle, a gift from the German people in thanksgiving for Irish help in relieving distress after the World War II, and a memorial stone to W. B. Yeats by Henry Moore. The park is a popular resort of Dubliners, particularly during the midday break (deck chairs can be hired); there are lunchtime concerts of Irish music in July and August.
A highly ornate Victorian facade conceals the ultramodern St Stephen's Green Shopping Center. On the west side of the park can be seen the Royal College of Surgeons (1806) and on the south side of the square stands the Department of Foreign Affairs, formerly the residence of Lord Iveagh, which has a large garden, and the Neo-Byzantine University Church (1854).
Royal Irish Academy
National Concert Hall
Dublin City Hall
Beyond Dublin's City Hall stands Dublin Castle, the main entrance of which is on Cork Hill. The hill now occupied by the Upper Yard was probably the site of a Celtic and later a Danish fort. In 1204 King John began the construction of a castle (completed 1226) of which little survives, and then much altered, in the present building. From the reign of Elizabeth I to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1921 the Castle was the seat of the Viceroy and the headquarters of British administration. The Castle is now used for important Presidential Inaugurations and State receptions.To the right of the main entrance to Dublin Castle is the Genealogical Office, where people of Irish descent can seek to trace their ancestry. The State Apartments are shown to visitors in a conducted tour lasting about half an hour (entrance in Upper Yard, opposite the main entrance to the Castle). Notable features are the colorful Donegal and Killybegs carpets, the chandeliers of Waterford glass and the pavement of green Connemara marble in the entrance hall. The conducted tour takes in the following rooms; St Patrick's Hall, with a painted ceiling (1778) and the banners of the Knights of St Patrick; the blue Wedgwood Room, with paintings by Angelica Kauffmann (?) ; the Picture Gallery, with portraits of Viceroys; the Throne Room, richly decorated in gold (1740), with an 18th C. throne; the long State Drawing Room with its original furniture; and the Apollo Room or Music Room, with a ceiling of 1746.At the east end of the Upper Yard a passage leads into the Lower Yard. On the right of this is the Record Tower, one of the four old corner towers, well preserved with its 16ft/5m thick walls, which gives some impression of what the medieval castle was like. The neo-Romanesque Chapel (1807-14) is notable for its unusual external decoration of over 100 limestone heads of famous Irishmen.
Christ Church Cathedral
St Patrick's Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral continued to play a leading part through all the vicissitudes of Irish history over the centuries, although in the 13th C. another church, only 0.25mi/400m away to the south was raised to the status of cathedral and has retained that status, in spite of all subsequent changes, down to the present day. This is St Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin, the largest church in Ireland (305ft/93m long) which is an Anglican cathedral.
At the time of its foundation in the 11th C. the church stood on a marshy site outside the town walls. Like Christ Church Cathedral, it has suffered from over-restoration (1864-69). The massive tower at the northwest corner dates from the end of the 14th C., the steeple from 1739.
The church is entered from the south side. The high interior, in severe Early English style, is of impressive effect. It contains numerous monuments and tombs. At the second pier, to the right of the entrance, are the tombs of Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) and his "Stella" (Hester Johnson, 1681-1728). To the left of the nearby door is a bust of Swift, with an epitaph which he himself composed: "He lies where furious indignation can no longer rend his heart." Swift was Dean of St Patrick's for 35 years.
Other notable monuments are the following: to the right of the baptismal chapel (old font) the Boyle Monument (1631) commemorating the Earl of Cork, with a number of colored figures, including a child who is believed to be Richard Boyle, later the celebrated physicist; on the north wall, opposite the entrance, the monument of Turlough O'Carolan (1670-1738), last of the Irish bards; on the north wall of the choir a marble effigy of Archbishop Fulk de Saundfort (d. 1271); on the south wall of the Lady Chapel an effigy of Archbishop Tregury (d. 1471); on the south wall of the choir four brasses, the finest of which are those of Dean Sutton (d. 1528) and Dean Fyche (d. 1539); and at the southwest corner of the south transept, the typically 18th C. monument of Lady Doneraile.
The choir was, from 1783 to 1869, the Chapel of the Order of the Knights of St Patrick, whose banners, swords and helmets can be seen above the stalls.
In the little park near the cathedral 12 tablets let into the wall commemorate Irish writers.