Dublin, Ireland !
The River Liffey is neither grand nor rushing, but it has always served as the focal point of the city it divides. Things have come a long way since the Vikings set up their Dyflin trading post over 1,000 years ago, naming it after Dubh Linn (Dark Pool), an earlier Gaelic settlement. In the 12th century, at an Irish Chieftan's fateful request, the King of England sent his Anglo-Norman knights to wrest Dublin from its Viking rulers. They laid the foundations for a thriving medieval city - part of which can still be seen - and set the course for 800 years of English oppression, which finally ended with hard-won independence in 1922.
With its recent joining of the European Union, Dublin received a massive infusion of financing and technology that has led to tremendous change and growth, and it is now the fastest-growing economy in Europe.
The tourist precinct is a small and friendly place, a well-defined compound focused around Grafton Street, St. Stephen's Green, and Temple Bar, best explored on foot. Artists who once felt compelled to leave now stay, and if Joyce and Wilde could see Dublin today, they'd dig in along with the new creative breed, including Nobel Literature Prize-winner, Seamus Heaney.
Once upon a time, Julius Caesar put all his power into defeating the Celts, but they have returned with a vengeance. In 1998, Dublin settled the ancient score by leaping past Rome to become the 5th most-visited city in Europe, already surpassing Milan, Amsterdam, London, and Rome as Fortune magazine's "best place in Europe to do business." The word is out - for work or play, Dublin is the place!
Reasons to Visit
Picturesque European Capital: Dublin treats visitors to an extraordinary mix of youthful energy and traditional customs. You can easily explore the many facets of Dublin because it's built to human scale, easy to navigate on foot and centered around the Georgian squares and vibrant pubs of downtown. Music, monuments, cathedrals, museums, castles, pub culture, cheerful and remarkably hospitable people, and the legendarily beautiful scenery are the main reasons travelers say they enjoy visiting Ireland again and again.
Discover Your Irish Roots: If you want to seek out long lost relations and become reintroduced to Irish culture, be sure to pay a visit to the Heraldic Museum and Genealogical Office. The only one of its kind in the world, this museum focuses on the uses of heraldry through exhibits of shields, banners, coins, paintings, porcelain, and stamps depicting coats of arms. Ireland's chief herald alsooffers a consultation service on the premises, making it the ideal place to start researching your Irish roots.
What to Do & See
Tour of Dublin: Take a "hop on, hop off" tour of the city for a dynamic and memorable way to learn about and savor everything that Dublin offers. From its Medieval structures to its extensive Georgian architecture, this diverse and popular city offers as much to see as it did when Swift and Joyce called it home. Modern additions include the vibrant Temple Bar area full of pubs, nightclubs, and restaurants, as well as the shopper's heaven on Grafton and Henry Streets.
Dracula Trail: Take a tour that explores the major influences which led Dublin-born writer Bram Stoker to pen the Gothic horror tale of Count Dracula. A highlight of the tour is a visit to the 14th-century Malahide Castle, where 14 members of the Talbot family had breakfast together the morning of the infamous Battle of the Boyne, from which none returned.
Glendalough & ICON Tour: Combine the old with the new on a journey that takes you from an early Christian monastic settlement to 21st-century Ireland. The road to Glendalough passes through the stunning Blessington lakes, after which you'll visit the early Christian site of Glendalough. Proceed to ICON, the Home of Baileys, where the brewery treats you to a glass of their delicious Irish cream liqueur and a show.
Ballykissangel & Powerscourt Tour: Just an hour from the bustle of Dublin, on a journey that takes you along the southern coastline and into the " Garden of Ireland," you'll escape to the gorgeous countryside of Arklow and the pretty village of Avoca, better known to some as the inspiration for The Meeting of the Waters and as TV's Ballykissangel. After exploring the yachting town of Dun Laoghaire and stopping for a spot of lunch and shopping in Avoca, continue to one of the crown jewels of Ireland estates, Powerscourt. This noble house stands proudly on manicured gardens with Italian and Japanese designs. It also has a popular pet cemetery.
Christ Church Cathedral: Its origins date to about 1038 when the Viking settlers constructed a cathedral on this site. The construction of the present building - the seat of the Church of Ireland and one of only two Protestant cathedrals in Dublin - began in 1172 under the direction of Strongbow, a Norman baron and conqueror of Dublin for the English crown. The hulking crypt, with its 12th- and 13th-century vaults, is Dublin's oldest surviving architecture.
Dublin Writers Museum: This restored 18th-century townhouse on Parnell Square is one of Dublin's best cultural sights. The nation's greatest writers, including Joyce, Shaw, Wilde, Yeats, and Beckett among others, are commemorated through rare manuscripts, diaries, posters, letters, limited and first editions, photographs, and other mementos.
Day Trip to Dun Laoghaire: Seaside towns are one of Ireland's special pleasures, and this yachting village adds flash and sport to the traditional ambiance of shore life. Four yacht clubs are housed along the seafront, neighboring the bustling center of high fashion and commerce of the largest sailing and water sports center in Ireland. The harbor was built 1817 and has two grand piers, the East Pier and the West Pier. At the end of the East Pier is the famous Kingston Battery built in 1850, which is one of only two gun saluting stations in the country. Bands play the East Pier on summer Sundays and the new ferry terminal houses a restaurant and shops.
Day Trip to County Wicklow: Just south of Dublin, this county is known as "The Garden of Ireland" for the deep glens and wooded valleys that make up some of the finest scenery in Ireland. Films and television shows like Braveheart and Ballykissangel (a popular Irish show) regularly feature this region for the rich green lands, blossoms, and timeless lakes that evoke the Ireland of myth and literature. Many stately homes and gardens are scattered around the county, the most notable being Powerscourt and Russborough House. Many of Wicklow's villages reflect their English origins as estate villages, while the Irish kept their hold on the highlands, providing refuge to rebels during Wicklow's prominent role in the 1798 rebellion.
Guinness Brewery: Ireland's premier brewer, Arthur Guinness, founded the home of his famous black stout in 1759 on a 60-acre spread to the west of Christ Church Cathedral. It's safe to say this spot gets more visitors than any other in town even though the brewery itself is closed to the public. Visitors are content to watch the 18-minute audiovisual presentation, which ends with the curtain rising on an old-fashioned pub serving complimentary pints.
National Gallery of Ireland: At the time of its inauguration, by an act of Parliament in 1864, there were just 105 paintings in the collection, begun with 15 bought in 1856 in Rome. Today's collection has over 2,500 paintings, 5,400 drawings, watercolors, miniatures, 3,000 prints, 380 sculptures, and more, making it one of the finest collections of European art. It houses a major collection of Irish paintings, as well.
National Museum: Opened in 1890, the museum contains artifacts dating from 7000 BC to the 20th-century. The archaeological collections include outstanding examples of Celtic and Medieval art, such as the famous Ardagh Chalice, the Tara Brooch, and the Derrynaflan Hoard. It holds the largest collection of Celtic antiquities in the world - an astonishing array of gold jewelry, carved stones, and weapons.
St. Stephen's Green: Ireland's best-known Victorian Public Park was the center of fashion for 18th century aristocrats, after which the 22 acres were laid out in 1880 as a public park. The land provides sanctuary from the bustle of the city streets with tree-lined walks, flower gardens, formal lawns, a Victorian bandstand, and an ornamental lake that is home to many waterfowl.
Trinity College: The oldest university in Ireland was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth. Its 40 acres retain most of their cobbled squares and Old World seclusion, and the gardens and parks have a unique collection of buildings dating from the 17th to 20th centuries. The most striking manuscript created in the Anglo-Saxon world, the 9th- century illuminated Book of Kells, is on view in the Old Library.
Heraldic Museum/Genealogical Office: The only one of its kind in the world, this museum focuses on the uses of heraldry through exhibits of shields, banners, coins, paintings, porcelain, and stamps depicting coats of arms. Ireland's chief herald also offers a consultation service on the premises, making it the ideal place to start researching your Irish roots.
Dublinia: What was Dublin like in medieval times? Find out with a visit to this historically accurate recreation of the Old City from 1170 to 1540. Journey through the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in 1170 to the closure of the monasteries in the 1530s. Experience everyday life in Medieval Dublin, complete with a prototype of a 13th-century quay along the banks of the Liffey. Stop by the Fayre, displaying the wares of merchants from all over Europe, and visit the armorer to be fitted for chain mail and a proper helm.
James Joyce Center: The Center is a beautifully restored Georgian townhouse that was once the home of a dancing instructor who appears briefly in Ulysses. The Center promotes a greater understanding of the life and works of James Joyce with daily tours of the house as well as walks through the north inner city.
Shaw Birthplace: This simple 2-story terraced house, built in 1838, is the birthplace and childhood home of George Bernard Shaw, one of Dublin's 3 winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature.
Dublin's most luxurious 5-star hotel places particular emphasis on marrying its elegant surroundings and atmosphere with a warm Irish welcome and friendly, efficient service.
The Westbury is a 2-minute walk from elegant shopping, theaters, and cultural attractions. This member of the "Leading Hotels of the World" regularly hosts diplomats and celebrities.
The Gresham Hotel
The flagship of the Gresham Hotel Group, The Gresham Dublin has enticed countless visitors through its doors since it opened in 1817. Close to the many cultural attractions of central Dublin, guests enjoy efficient and friendly service, attention to detail, and warm comfortable accommodations.