We "saved" Dublin for last -- planning on spending our last three days in Dublin before heading back to the airport. Dublin is a very old city; walking the windng streets you can discover the remains of a viking stronghold, a medieval walled city, the homogenous facades of the Georgian squares dotting the city. The revitalized Temple Bar area along the river Liffey is a chaotic, colorful, and unpredictable venue that literally rocks into the wee hours of the morning.
Dublin has been a city for millenia, starting from neolithic settlements in the 8th century BCE (the many stone ciicles, round forts, and other neolithic tombs cropping up across Ireland can attest to that). Ptolemy had Dublin marked on his famous wold map in 140 CE, called Eblana. It must have been a thriving city to warrant such a mention.
It became a notable city when the Vikings arrived and stayed in the 9th century CE. The vikings originally settled on the shores of the LIffey near Kilmainham , then moved further down to the Wood Quay (which has been destroyed and replaced with office buildings in recent years). They joined monastic settlements at the River Poddle (which lies underground now, only visible under the foundations of Dublin Castle). They met in a dark pool -- Dubh-linn, which is likely the source of the modern city name.The Irish name for the city is Baile Átha Cliath, the CIty ofthe Hurdles -- probably named for the wooden bog roadways across the harbor and nearby lands. At least some idea of early Viking settlement can be seen at Dublinia
Vikings settled here, and intermarried, and eventually popualted a large chunk of Ireland. However, Ireland was once again invaded by the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century. Strongbow, who has a part in the history of many local familes, was initially a mercenary hired to help in the internal struggles between the many Irish kings, but he stayed on and eventually conquered the city and was granted control by the Engligh king, Henry II. Soon, English people arrived -- bringing not only the hated English rule to Ireland, but also revitalizing the captol city, Dublin. The Castle was built in this period, as were Christ Church Cathedral and St. Patricks. These stone buildings are all that remains of the earlier city -- being made of timber, most earlier buildings were lost. A tiny section of the original city walls and gate remain near the LIffey at St. Audoens -- a short walk from Christ Church.
The Liffey divides the city into two -- north and south. Today it simply marks a dividing point for the city, but it once separated the vikings from the celts, and later the normans, with thriving settlements on bank evolving into larger and more powerful cities. Today's city is largely a Georgian-planned community, with beautiful green sqares -- such as Marrion Square and the nearby government buildings give the city a formal air.
The wokring-class neighborhoods of the last century have been transformed; Temple Bar is now one of the most excting cityscapes in Europe -- worth a wander to see the music, galleries, restaurants and pubs that sprawl along the river. And of course, you can't miss the Guinness Storehouse -- everyone visitng Ireland has to try the black stuff, and this glitzy, commercial tour is part of the fun.
We caught a hop-on-hop-off bus tour the second day (Dublin City Bus is one, Viking Bus Tours -- including horned hats!-- are another). Buying a ticket on these tours, or buying a Dublin Card, offer free entry to many of the sites in Dublin. Deifnitely worthwhile ify ou intend to visit any of the museums, castles, or churches.
Walking is a definite possiblity, but since we waited until the end of our trip, I was just about walked out. But it's possible to do several walking tours of the city and hit the highlights easily enough. We really spent three days in Dublin, which is really not enough. Unfortunately, we didn't take inas much of the nighlife as Mark would have liked -- I completely crapped out by 10pm, just when the night-happy Dubliners and oodles of tourists started revving up.
Hotels are relatively easy to find, alhtough quite expensive. We used a tourist office on the coast to find us a hotel for three days -- we had th eadded annoyance of having a car we needed to park (well, we could have returned it, I supposed, but the way it worked out, we needed a parking garage, which is mucho expensive in the city. YOu don't need a car in Dublin -- in fact, you don't WANT a car in Dublin unless you're a stress-junky
lost in ireland 2005 travelogue and photos © rfingerson