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County Dublin

County Dublin

Image by Giuseppe Milo

County Dublin Overview

The centre of County Dublin includes the city of the same name, along with the surrounding area, formerly known as the Pale.

Here, grand country mansions can be found alongside gardens filled with both native and exotic plants and sites of paramount importance to both ancient and Celtic and modern Irish history. Despite being one of the smallest Irish counties in area, it is one of the country’s biggest population centers. Dublin attracts large volumes of visitors every year and is a focal point for those travelling to Ireland.

The Dublin City of today is in the process of continual transformation, absorbing a bit of the trendy allure of other popular European cities. Shops, bars and outdoor cafes thrive, with recent Temple Bar redevelopment projects responsible for a great deal of the economic and cultural resurgence.

The City of Dublin is also a genealogical information centre  containing several fine facilities where natives and visitors can access collections of centrally located information about families and family history. Public records can be searched in Dublin at the National Library, Office of the Registrar General, The Public Record Office and Registry of Deeds, and at the National Archives, located on Bishop Street in the city.

The past exists alongside the present in Dublin, in historic buildings and monuments that stand amid the modern bustle of a changing economic and social landscape. A visit to the campus of Trinity College or a stroll along O’Connell Street provide proof enough that this city has long been the site of events that have changed Ireland forever.

Highlights of County Dublin

County Dublin contains sights, sounds and experiences for every taste. In the north of the county, Ireland’s rich heritage can be experienced within two miles of the airport at Swords Castle.

Three miles east of the airport, on the coast, lies the pretty seaside village of Malahide. Here you will find Malahide Castle, one of Ireland’s finest, which boasts a magnificent grounds and Irish arts and crafts shopping.

Staying in the north of the county, Ardgillan Castle is famous for its medieval spectre — the ghost of the lady’s stairs.

On the outskirts of Dublin City, Glasnevin Cemetery and the National Botanic Gardens provide quieter and more contemplative atmospheres. The port city of Dalkey offers picturesque scenery, the Martello Tower, and a beautiful beach to stroll at Sandymount Strand.

In the city centre, there is much to explore, beginning with the historic buildings at Trinity College, where the Book of Kells sits on display at the Old Library.

Passing from the medieval world into the more modern, is a recognized Irish institution in nearby Grafton Street, a shopper’s paradise. St. Stephen’s Green offers a relaxing outdoor atmosphere for strolling or lounging in the centre of the city.

Not far away, many of Ireland’s national treasures are concentrated in the National Museum of Natural History, National Gallery of Ireland, and National Museum of Archaeology and History. They are housed in convenient groups according to visitor interest.

The Guinness Storehouse provides an entertaining and enlightening experience for visitors who wish to learn about the most famous brewing company in the world; it offers tasty samples to those so inclined.

Pubs, restaurants and a variety of music, performances and nightlife can be enjoyed all around the city, but are particularly concentrated in the Temple Bar district, known also for its vibrant culture, creative art and design spaces.

O’Connell Street and the famous O’Connell Bridge lead to even more buildings of great historical significance, including the GPO and Customs House. Nearby is the Dublin Writer’s Museum, which houses first edition works of James Joyce, Jonathan Swift and other famous Irish scribes, as well as a variety of manuscripts and personal items.

The fine Georgian architecture of Dublin City is exemplified by James Gandon’s Four Courts building. Medieval and ancient influences can be seen at Dvblinia, an experiential attraction that transports visitors back in time, as well as at the ancient crypt located in the lower level of Christ Church Cathedral.

The eerie emptiness of Kilmainham Gaol marks the execution spot of principal organizers of the Easter Rising, while the Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle contains an award winning museum featuring exhibited materials from the four corners of the earth.

Finally, Dublin Zoo, one of the world’s oldest, provides education and enjoyment for people of all ages, origins and interests. Phoenix Park, where the zoo is located, provides room for a variety of outdoor sporting activities, as well as acres of land filled with monuments and important historical residences.

History of County Dublin

Recorded history in the region of Dublin might possibly extend back to the first century A.D. if, in fact, disputed references to the city in the writings of Ptolemy have been interpreted correctly.

It is undisputed that the ancient port city was occupied by the Vikings for nearly 300 years, as well as the Celts, who called it “Dyflinn” or Dublin. They settled near the black pool, as the name is translated from the Gaelic, where the River Liffey intersects with the River Poddle near Dublin Castle, while the original Celtic town was located a bit further upriver.

Perched on the eastern coastline nearest to mainland Europe, the Dublin area was historically prone to invasion from a variety of sources. When the Normans conquered the province of Leinster in the 12th century, ruling authority was transferred from Tara – Home of the Irish High Kings, to Dublin, where the English ruled the city and the area within the surrounding Pale. These events represent the actual beginning of the conquest of Ireland by the British, and the time when the seeds of the Troubles of the last century were sown.

Dublin celebrated its millennial anniversary in 1988. Visitors from other countries, especially the Americas, marvel at this fact – they are accustomed to cities and towns that where a centennial or bicentennial is considered a huge celebration.

Popular Dublin Surnames

Surnames that are common to County Dublin include:

  • Dunne
  • Behan
  • Moore
  • O’Toole
  • Plunkett
  • O’Casey,
  • Hennessey
  • Byrne

About Michael Heraghty

Michael Heraghty is a user experience designer who grew up in the beautiful county of Sligo in the West of Ireland. He now lives in Dublin, with his wife and three daughters.