Dublin’s Fair City
Dublin, the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, is one of
the most fun places in the world. It’s especially popular with tourists and
travelers from the US, for whom a trip to the city is often a journey back in
time in search of Irish immigrant ancestors.
But Dublin is much more than a museum: it is emphatically a city
that is looking to the future while taking care of its rich and varied past.
The Republic of Ireland, of course, is one of the youngest independent nations
in the world – it has been in existence for well under a century – and its
capital city encapsulates its vibrant and forward-looking nature.
all that, it’s difficult to ignore the past. The Irish War of Independence
against the UK – and its subsequent Irish Civil War, during which the Irish
fought it out among themselves over the nature of their new country – are still
(just) within living memory. Dublin is full of monuments to the fallen. One of
Dublin’s major buildings, the General Post Office in O’Connell Street, still
carries the scars of bullets that were fired during the Easter Rising of 1916.
The Post Office was the main headquarters of the republican rebels, and, as
such, holds a special place in Irish memory and culture to this day.
are a lot less fraught in Dublin these days, although the intensity of
political and religious conflicts is in some way mirrored by the vigor and
energy of the city’s burgeoning business sector. Dublin is one of the biggest
centers of the world IT industry outside of the US, and in recent years
talented young developers have flocked to the city in search of work. All this
had led to a pretty lively nightlife, which is largely focused on the area of
Temple Bar. It’s quite a small area, bounded by the Liffey to the north, Dame
Street to the south, Westmoreland Street to the east and Fishamble Street to
the west. In one sense, to walk around its cobbled streets is to step back in
time: the pubs (of which there are many) are painted in traditional styles.
It’s great place to grab a pint of Guinness (for more on which, see below) and
to relax and have fun. There are quite a few interesting things to see and do
in the area as well as simply chill out with a pint: Temple Bar is very
strongly associated with the arts – and especially the performance arts. As
well as being the home to Ireland’s largest acting school, Temple Bar also
houses the Temple Bar Music Centre, the Arthouse Multimedia Centre and the
gallery and Studio. Opportunities for dining also abound in the area, though
one local traditional delicacy – Guinness with oysters – is probably best
enjoyed by those whose constitutions can cope with these two unique but
extremely distinct taste sensations simultaneously. It’s probably a good idea
to remember that on evenings, and especially the weekend, the area can get a
little boisterous with locals and visitors from the UK out enjoying themselves
in distinctively Anglo-Irish style. You’re very unlikely to run into any kind
of trouble, but if you’re thinking of finding accommodation in the area do
remember that evenings can get a little noisy as revelers spill on to the
streets after maybe one too many pints of ‘the black stuff’.
– Guinness. Ireland’s greatest gift to the world is a thick, dark variety of
beer known in the British Isles as ‘stout’. Most brands have their roots in
Ireland, Scotland or northern England. Guinness has been brewed in Dublin since
1756. If you’re used to drinking Guinness the way it’s made and served in the
States, prepare yourself for a rather different experience. Guinness that is
brewed in Ireland is made with a uniquely ‘soft’ water from the Lady’s Well
spring in Wicklow (not, as legend has it, from the water of Dublin’s River
Liffey – you wouldn’t want to drink that!). This gives Irish homegrown Guinness
a distinctly smoother taste than the stuff that is brewed under license
overseas. Good practice also dictates that a good pint of Guinness should be
two-thirds poured, left to stand a while, and then ‘topped off’. Although this
technique is widely used in Scotland and England, very few US bars use it –
leading to a pint that most discerning Irish drinkers wouldn’t care for.
If you want to learn a little more about Guinness, you can visit
The Guinness Storehouse. More than just a museum, the Storehouse has been
described as ‘The Disneyland of Beer’. It’s shares premises on St James’ Gate
with the central Guinness brewery.
After you’ve enjoyed the Storehouse – and maybe a few pints –
you can walk unsteadily out in the Dublin streets once more to enjoy this most
alive of all cities.