Dublin was first mentioned in AD 140. Its name is derived from the Irish "Dubh Linn" (Dark Pool), a reference to the peat colored waters of the Liffey River. It is believed that St. Patrick visited Dublin in AD 448 and baptized many converts to Christianity at St. Patrick's Well, near the site of which St. Patrick's Cathedral was later to rise.
The River Liffey provides a useful orientation, flowing as it does against the dramatic backdrop of the Wicklow/Dublin Mountains, cutting its way through the heart of the city.
O'Connell Bridge is usually defined at "the center". It is one of 10 bridges spanning the Liffey and is a very short bridge... wider than it is long.
O'Connell Street is the main shopping street. Off some of its side streets, there are pedestrian-only zones, street vendors who call their wares in the traditional Dublin style, and lovely flower stalls.
Rotunda Assemby Rooms were originally built to raise funds for the hospital beside them. They were very elegant and were the favorite haunt of the wealthy. Today they are a cinema.
Parnell Square, beyond he Rotunda, opens up one of Dublin's first Georgian squares. It contains many typical features of Dublin's architecture. When looking at a Georgian terrace, it is always worth looking upwards beyond the proportions of the facade to note the fantastic shapes made by the chimneystacks on the rooftops. Note also that the first floor windows are larger than the upper floors. This was so passers-by could see who was being entertained in your home. The top of Parnell is dominated by the impressive facade of Charlemont House, and its unfinished Palladian arcade. This is now the Hugh Land Municipal Gallery Of Modern Art. Just around the corner from the gallery is the Garden Of Remembrance, dedicated to those who gave their lives in the cause of Irish Freedom. A large bronze statue was erected in 1971 to mark the 50th anniversary of the signing of the truce of Britain. At the top of Pernell Square, you approach James Joyce Territory... and will see numerous places he mentions in his writings.
St. Mary's Pro Cathedral is the main Catholic church of Dublin
Abbey Street will lead you to the Abbey Theatre, the National Theatre of Ireland. It is a new brick building dating from 1966.
Parliament House is a short walk across O'Connell Bridge, down Westmoreland Street.
Bewley's Coffee House on the way to Parliament is an institution that has been serving coffee and buns since 1840. The interior is richly decorated with marble-topped tables, and stained-glass windows.
Trinity College was founded by Elizabeth I in 1591. At that time it offered a free education to Catholics, on condition that they accepted the Protestant faith. That no longer holds true. Trinity is built on ground which was reclaimed from the sea many years ago and, as a result, the cobblestones in the main court have to be entirely relayed every seven years
Leinster House is the seat of the Irish Parliament. The building has an interesting facade facing Merrion Square. The Kildare Street entrance is flanked by two important buildings: The National Library on your left, and The National Museum on your right. They are almost symmetrical, each featuring a massive colonnaded entrance rotunda. The National Museum houses an excellent collection of Irish antiquities dating from 6000 BC.
Mansion House on Dawson Street has been home of the Lord Mayors of Dublin since 1715. It is one of the best Queen Anne houses in Dublin.
Merrion Square is one of Dublin's most attractive squares. Plaques on the houses indicate famous past residents. On the corner at #1 lived Oscar Wilde's father. Others who lived here included Yeats and George Russell.
National Gallery on the west side of Merrion Square, opened in 1864. It is one of Europe's most pleasant and compact galleries. Over 2000 works are on view, including a major collection of Irish works, plus works from the 17th century French, Italian, Dutch, and Spanish. There is also an outstanding collection of paintings from the Barbizon School. At the entrance to the Museum, George Bernard Shaw (a benefactor) is commemorated by a statue.
Natural History Museum just past Leinster House. Its most famous curiosity is a huge skeleton of the extinct Irish Elk, whose antlers measure 10 feet.
Mornington House at 24 Upper Merrion Street is the birthplace of the Duke of Wellington. This British leader hated being referred to as Irish, and when reminded that he was Dublin-born and therefore Irish, replied, "Being born in a stable doesn't make one a horse".
Grafton Street off the corner of the square to Trinity College is a fashionable pedestrian shopping street.
St. Patrick's Cathedral: A stone marks the spot where it is said that St. Patrick struck the ground with his staff and caused pure water to gush out so that he could baptize his many converts. That "well" is about 90 feet north of the Cathedral tower. The Cathedral dates from 1190, and is mainly Early English in style. It originally stood outside the walls of Dublin, while its close neighbor, Christ Church Cathedral, was within the walls. This is why the city now has two official cathedrals within a short walk of each other.
Archbishop Margh's Library is a short walk from Stephen's Green, is the first public library in Ireland, and was built in 1701.
Dublin Castle: The castle square is an 18th century rebuilding of the medieval structure from the 13th century. Guided tours take one through the lavishly furnished state apartments, and provide one of the most enjoyable experiences in Dublin. These apartments are now used for visiting Heads of State
City Hall: Near Dame Street, this impressive Corinthian-style building was built in 1769 as the Royal Exchange, and its circular main hall successfully combines classical ornamentation with Georgian simplicity.
Phoenix Park: 1760 acres of green open space. Until 1984, large herds of wild deer, sheep, and cows grazed here. Today, there are only a few of the deer left. The 205 foot high Obelisk, visible from all over the park, is the Wellington Testimonial. Nearby, a towering Steel Cross marks the site where John Paul II celebrated Mass on his arrival in 1979.
Metal Bridge (Halfpenny Bridge) is the only pedestrian bridge across the Liffey. It is a high, arched bridge and offers excellent views up and down the river.
Custom House is a splendid late 18th century structure by James Gandon.
Four Courts: also by Gandon, located close to where Dublin was founded.
St. Michan's Church with mummified bodies in the crypt and a grand organ.
Dublin Airport is only 6 miles from city center and a bus runs every 20 minutes, dropping one off at the Central Bus Station. Another service stops at major hotels. Rates for taxis are posted outside the Terminals.
Guinness Museum and Visitors' Center on James St. Includes a 30-minute documentary on the history of Guinness and the brewing process, plus a sample of the brew. Mon-Fri 10 - 3