Dublin is the capital and the largest city of the Republic of Ireland, located near the midpoint of Ireland’s east coast, forming the center of the Dublin Region. Originally founded as a center of Viking settlement, the city has been Ireland’s capital city since Medieval times. The river Liffey divides Dublin into two distinct halves: the south side of the city and the north. The Northside has traditionally been viewed as working-class, while the Southside has been seen as middle and upper-middle class. This divide has mellowed considerably in the past number of years, due primarily to the favorable economic conditions currently in Ireland and the emergence of the Celtic Tiger economy. Correspondingly, Dublin has progressed to become one of the wealthiest cities in Europe. Key industries include electronics, telecommunications, retail and tourism.
Dublin is a genuinely friendly city with the youngest population in Europe (41% under 25 years and 69% under 45 years). Dubliners maintain a great pride in their rich cultural history. The city has been built up moderately, so as not to overshadow its historic landmarks. Among the city’s renowned Georgian architecture and traditional pubs, you will also find cyber cafés and a lively club scene. And if you enjoy outdoor pursuits, there’s plenty to keep you busy. The enviable array of activities includes sailing, hill walking, fishing, and riding to hounds (foxhunting), not to mention more than 350 superb golf courses.
Dublin city center is generally agreed to lie in the O’Connell Bridge area, with most of the city’s historical sights concentrated within a 1.5-mile radius of the bridge. This area is simply referred to as the “City Center,” or “Town” for locals. Most areas of the city are typically referred to by the nearest street name or landmark (e.g. the Grafton Street area, known for its shops and cafes). Probably the best know example of this naming system is the Temple Bar area, immediately southwest of O’Connell Bridge. Officially dubbed “Dublin’s Cultural Quarter,” it is better known as home to a large number of pubs and restaurants. The cobbled streets and old street pattern contrast with the more modern and ordered street layout in the rest of the city center. On Saturdays a popular food market is held in Meeting House Square while jewelry and clothing stalls line Cows Lane off Lord Edward Street.
Most of the streets in the center of Dublin were laid out in the Georgian era of the 18th and early 19th centuries, but in most cases the original buildings have been replaced at some stage. However in the southeast section of the city center, around Baggot Street, Merrion Square and Fitzwiliam Square, most of the original townhouses remain. The elegant streets with their colorful doors are still popular with the city’s lawyers and estate agents as offices.
Other highlights of the city include the early medieval Christchurch Cathedral (Dublin’s oldest building), Phoenix Park (Europe’s largest urban park), the National Gallery of Ireland and the treasures of the National Museum of Ireland, containing Europe’s finest collection of prehistoric gold artifacts. A plethora of buildings and museums (including Trinity College, Ireland’s oldest university, and the Guinness Storehouse) convey a real sense of living history. Indeed, it is this living history, present in the media of music and literature, which has brought Dublin such international acclaim. In the 20th century, a string of poets and writers immortalized the city, none more so than James Joyce whose seminal Ulysses (1922), which depicts one day in Dublin, is considered by many literary critics to be the greatest novel of that century. This vibrant, fun-loving city on the River Liffey is full of atmospheric pubs where the craic (fun) is spun with a well-polished finish and the streets echo with the ghosts of artistic luminaries in a fascinating blend of tradition and contemporary Irish life.