Location: East Coast of Ireland.
Language: English, with a mixture of non-English languages spoken at home from all around the world, including Lithuanian, Yoruba, Polish and Arabic. Irish is also used in Dublin, but is steadily declining.
Climate: Mild. Cooler Summers (around 20C/68F), Mild Winters (around 8C/48F), without extremes in either season.
Population: 1.9 Million.
Money: The Euro (€)
Transportation: Trams and buses within Dublin, and trains getting/to from there.
Religion: Catholic/Christianity (82%), No Religion (10%), with Islam, Judaism, Buddhism and Hinduism also being present, but not very strong.
Birthday: January 21, 1919.
Safety: Dublin is a very safe city with very little crime. The city is well-lit at night, so walking around isn’t as problematic, as in bigger cities.
Fun Facts: Guinness Brewery is the largest brewery in the world. Dublin has the youngest population of any European city, with about half the population being younger than 25. There are over 700 pubs in Dublin, with the oldest being from 1198. Dublin is from the old Irish-Gaelic word, meaning Black Pool. The band U2 is from Dublin.
History: First mention of Dublin is from AD 140, but Irish officials recognize the date 988 as when the city was settled. Dublin was a Viking settlement in the 10th century, despite the local Irish launching a number of attacks. The Normans launched a successful attack from Wales in 1169, but the change of power was short-lived, as in 1171, King Henry II of England attacked and took over the city. The King of Scotland, as well as other local tribes, tried to take over, but were all unsuccessful. The Black Plague hit Dublin especially hard in 1348 and killed thousands over the next 10 years. Another plague hit the city in 1649, reducing the population to half. While there were a handful of rebellions since the 1500’s, the most famous is the Easter Rising rebellion in 1916 against England. It only lasted 6 days, but was very important to the Irish, and in the 1918 elections, they won in a landslide victory, which gained them their independence in January, 1919.
Arriving In Dublin
From the airport to the city center: There are two buses going from the airport to the city center every 10-15 minutes, the 747 and 757, but both are called the Airlink Express. They cover a few of the same stops, but make sure to check your destination first, before entering the bus. You can buy tickets online, at the Airlink Express airport desk, from an airport vending machine or from the driver. You can buy a return ticket at the same time, which will save you €2 (a one-way ticket is €7/return ticket is €12) and if you buy online, it’ll save you €1 more (an online one-way ticket costs €6/return ticket €11). You can even buy an Airlink Express ticket, plus a Hop-on-Hop-Off and save on both tickets. The trip from the airport to the city center takes about 30 minutes, with the first 747 bus leaving at 5:45am, Monday-Saturday, and at 7:00am on Sundays, and the last bus leaving daily at 12:30am (00:30). The first 757 bus leaves the airport at 5:00am Monday-Saturday, and 7:25am on Sundays, with the last bus being 12:25am (00:25) Monday-Saturday, and 12:15am (00:15) on Sundays.
Getting Around: While there are trams and buses to get around, and are easy to use, most places are close enough to each other, that you can walk from place to place. Dublin is a flat city, so you won’t be walking up any strenuous hills or stairs.
Things To Do In Dublin
Dublin History Museum: If you want to get a quick overview of Dublin’s extensive history, but have it be fun and interactive at the same time, Dublinia is the place for you. It’s a museum that starts back in the Viking era and brings you up to modern day. There is a free daily tour (included in the admission price) everyday at 14:30 (2:30pm), except in July. There are also events that might include a Viking talking about life back then, or hearing about life as a surgeon, or maybe life during the Black Plague. Each month is something new. Regardless, within the museum, are great signs full of information, you can learn how to write your name in Old Norse, you can talk to a blacksmith and even dress up in period clothes.
Music In The Streets: While you might be familiar with the music of U2, the Cranberries or Enya, you may not realize how important music is in Ireland. In bigger cities like Dublin and Galway, it’s not uncommon to see musicians on the streets, with styles ranging from rock, to pop, to their local music, called Trad (traditional music). You can also find music inside of several pubs, which adds to a festive ambiance, that’s hard to find anywhere else in the world. And if you’re lucky, you’ll see the locals break into dancing, while people clap or cheer them on. After all they’ve been through in their history, to see them so free with music and dancing is a really fun experience.
Famine Remembrance: Something that a lot of people aren’t always aware of, is that there was a massive famine that hit Ireland from 1845-1849, called the Great Famine. It was much harder for the people on the West Coast and the South, than for other parts of the country. Around 1 million people died due to the famine, and another 1 million emigrated from Ireland. Even though Dublin wasn’t affected as hard, they still have a remembrance along the River Liffey, in front of the Irish Emigration Museum and the Jeanie Johnston boat, which talks about the long trip many Irish took to North America.
Trinity College: Trinity College was opened in 1592, making it the oldest surviving university in Ireland. Due to its prestigious status in Ireland, it’s seen as the Irish equivalent of Oxford and Cambridge. Originally set outside of the city’s walls, Trinity College is now within the city center, so you can go walk around the campus anytime during the day. Their library is famous, as it contains 6.2 million printed volumes, as well as many manuscripts, including the Book of Kells. The Book of Kells is a combination of the 4 Gospels of the New Testament in the Bible, and is believed to be created in AD 800. During the summer, the dorm rooms are opened up to the public, so if you’d like to stay a few nights on campus, you can do so. It’s really quiet at night, despite being a few steps away from pubs and lively nightlife. You’ll have access to a kitchen (some are within the room, some are a shared kitchen), the gym ( €12 a day), parking, WiFi, etc.
Historical Jail: A really unique place to see, relating to Irish history, and later independence, is the Kilmainham Gaol (Gaol is the Irish word for jail/prison). Built in 1796, the jail didn’t separate the inmates, so it was common to have men, women and children in a cell together. Later it was a place to hold the people caught from the 1916 Easter Rebellion. After Ireland gained their independence, the jail went unused for many years, until 1971, when it was reopened as a tourist attraction. It’s also been in over 10 films, including the 1969 version of The Italian Job.
Ireland’s Second Language: While English is the main language spoken in Ireland, the native language is Irish, which unfortunately has been on the decline for a while. The Irish language is a Celtic language, which was first mentioned in the 4th century, and later spread to Scotland and Isle of Man, which turned into Scottish Gaelic and Manx respectively. The Irish Constitution is in Irish, but all official government debates and business are done in English. Anyone studying to become an elementary school teacher in Ireland, must pass a test in Irish. And in 2005, it became one of the official languages in the European Union. While walking around Dublin, you might see signs in both Irish and English, with Irish typically being the first language on the sign. Sláinte! (cheers!)
New Years Eve: While it might not be your first thought to spend New Years Eve in Dublin, something that’s really nice is the fact that there isn’t the mass tourism that is in other popular cities. It’s a more tame celebration, with things like a free light/music show, instead of the typical firework show. You’re likely to see more families walking around, as it’s really safe, and the light/music show happens twice, once for families and once for night owls. As with any New Years Eve, there will always be the typical drunk crowd in the popular areas, but it can be easy to avoid that crowd. There are still lights around Dublin from Christmas, so it’s a festive feel as you walk around the city.
Day Trip From Dublin
Wicklow Mountains: While these mountains can’t compare with the Alps or Mount Everest, they are quite special for local scenery. Several rivers come from the Wicklow Mountains, including the Liffey River that runs through Dublin. Throughout history, the Wicklow Mountains provided a great place for locals to hide during battles. And due to the beauty there, several movies have been filmed there, including Braveheart, the Count of Monte Cristo, King Arthur, and the TV show Vikings. Whether you take a tour there, drive around, or go for a hike, the area is really pretty and worth a few hours of your time.
Guinness Lake: About 40 minutes south of Dublin is a lake called Guinness Lake. It’s on the private property of the Guinness family, but with a tour or just driving yourself to the handful of parking lots on the R759 Road, you’re able to have a nice view of the lake. If you look for the J.B. Malone memorial stone, you’ll have a less-crowded and alternative view of the lake and surrounding mountains. The bright white sand was imported to make the lake look like a pint of Guinness from above.