Visiting Dublin

To the north of Dublin is Dublin Airport with flights from major international cities. From Holyhead and Liverpool, ferry services go to Dublin Port, linked by bus to the city centre. There are internal flights from Cork, Shannon, Belfast, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Sligo and Knock. Dublin is divided into two by the River Liffey. Dublin's middle classes traditionally live on the south side which is somewhat more affluent than the north.

Dublin is known for splendid architecture. Dublin Castle lies at the historic heart of Dublin. Formerly the seat of British power, its ornate chandeliers, dining hall and state rooms depict a powerful symbol of the former colonial presence. The Chester Beatty Library is housed in the castle complex and visitors can enjoy Oriental and Islamic Art. The refurbished City Hall is an impressive building as are the city's two medieval cathedrals Christchurch and St Patrick. Marsh's Library is housed in a Queen Anne mansion and set amidst formal gardens. The marvellous interior features a cage which was used to lock in scholars who were consulting the treasured books and maps belonging to the library!

In the 1980s, Temple Bar was set to be demolished. However, it was saved and has become the focus of the urban regeneration which took place throughout the 1990s. Trendy arts centres, shops and bars are to be found at every turn and it is now the cultural heart of Dublin. The centrepiece of town planning from the 18th century is St Stephen's Green as many notable buildings surround it. A lake lies at the centre of the Green and the gardens contain interesting statues.

Dublin's main shopping is in Grafton Street where you will also find the National Museum, the National Gallery and Leinster House, the home of parliament.

Grand and imposing, O'Connell Street is the main artery of the city centre and is fast becoming Ireland's number one street for shopping. Easton Bookshop, the Gate Theatre and the Gresham Hotel as well as shops and bars are here. Just to the north are the Botanic Gardens with a riverside walk and elegant glasshouses.

Trinity College is one of the finest seats of learning in the whole of Europe and includes among its students Oscar Wilde and Semuel Beckett. The college has a series of quadrangles which give way onto College Park. One of the greatest treasures of the college is the Book of Kells, a beautifully illustrated medieval manuscript.

The south eastern part of the city has fine Georgian design. Merrion Square with its beautiful central gardens is quite exquisite. Well known names who have lived in the square include WB Yeats and Oscar Wilde as well as Daniel O'Connell, the great Liberator. The British Embassy was here until 1972 when it was burned down after the Bloody Sunday killings which took place in Derry, not far from Dublin.

The lungs of the city are Phoenix Park. The biggest city park in the whole of Europe, Phoenix Park is the home of Dublin Zoo and the Papal Cross which is a memorial to Pope John Paul II's visit in 1979 when he uttered the immortal words, "Young people of Ireland, I love you."

Today's Dublin continues to boom. Boasting one of the youngest populations in the whole of Europe, there are naturally sophisticated restaurants and funky bars. You will find traditional pubs with Irish music as you would expect but there is also a mix of cultures with Italian, Indian, Thai and French restaurants.

If you want a good Irish breakfast try Bewley's. There are several of these including one on Grafton Street. However, with Dublin becoming more international, you can now get muffins, Danish pastries and variations on eggs and bacon in most places these days and coffee is always to a high standard.

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