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Ireland for Visitors

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Frederic William Burton - The Meeting on the Turret Stairs, 1864
The Meeting on the Turret Stairs, 1864
Frederic William Burton
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Visiting Dublin:
with a few Side Trips to Enhance your Holiday

dublin carriage

St. Stephens Green carriage

by Suzanne Barrett

Dublin is a fantastic city and a great holiday choice for anyone looking for an exciting and entertaining break. Located near the midpoint of Ireland’s east coast, it is the largest city in the country and also its capital. It was originally founded as a Viking settlement at the mouth of the River Liffey and has been Ireland’s main city for most of the time since then. Nowadays Dublin is a business and leisure hub, and has one of the fastest growing populations of any European capital city. A visit to the city might take in some of the vast array of shops located in the numerous shopping districts such as Grafton Street, Brown Street and the newly refurbished Ilac shopping centre. The shope here are filled with beautiful wares, including a wide variety of items made by talented Irish craftspeople. Here you can take your pick from all the top high street names as well as a good selection of independent boutiques, and a visit to the famous Brown Thomas is a must. Woolens, electronics, perfumes, jewelry, linens, leather goods, books, and pottery are among Europe's best. Dublin is also a purveyor of exciting fashion design as a walk along Grafton Street or visits to the Powerscourt Townhouse Shopping Centre on William Street and the Tower Design Centre off Grand Canal Quay will attest. The many individual shops within these buildings show Irish crafts at their best.

After hitting the shops take a well-earned break in one of the cafes or bars and sit down for some scrummy food before heading out to visit some of the great cultural attractions that the city has to offer. When night time falls then the areas around St. Stephen's Green offers some of the most popular evening entertainment venues, or visit the internally known Temple Bar area just south of the river Liffey.

Dublin has often been considered a great short city break location, and it is definitely worth spending some more time there if you can spare it. Ireland's capital city is not large, and the best way to begin one's exploration is on foot. Many of the historic buildings are located within a ten-block radius of the city center. The River Liffey comes down from the Wicklow hills, and is traversed by thirteen bridges, most of them originally constructed between 1760 and 1818, and having undergone a diverse series of names. The most famous bridge is the O'Connell Street Bridge, wider than it is long, designed by James Gandon, architect of the Four Courts building and the Custom House. The cast iron Ha'penny Bridge was originally named Wellington Bridge and is now simply the Liffey Bridge but retains its beloved nickname from the days when the toll to cross it was indeed a halfpenny.

While Dublin itself offers a great deal of things to see and do, a venture just outside the city bounds provides additional fantastic places to explore. Fingal is a good place to start; with its rugged seaside coastline and picture perfect seaside villages, it offers a good contrast to the fast pace action of Dublin city. Take a long stroll through the countryside and reward yourself with a pint of Guinness in a cozy pub or if you fancy something more lively, Fingal also offers a number of vibrant towns such as Malahide and Howth to keep you entertained. Fingal, it might be noted, was formed in 1993 from part of historic County Dublin, (hence the Co. Dublin names in some of the links). Look, too, into other delightful seaside locales. One of my favorite spots is the lovely town of Greystones, about 18 miles south of Dublin in County Wicklow.

If Dublin is your first stop, arranging transport at Dublin airport car hire couldn’t be easier, and if you plan to visit Dublin as part of a bigger driving holiday than you will be pleased to know that is the main hub of the country’s road network. The M50 motorway runs round the North, west and south of the city with the most important primary routes out of the city connecting on to it.

Until next time.

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