To get to know Dublin is to get to know Ireland, for the Fair City was founded by a tribe of Vikings in 795 AD and remains one of the oldest settlements in Ireland. Dublin also played its part in both the War for Independence (1919-21) and the Irish Civil War (1922-23) – a close look at the columns of the General Post Office and the angels on the O'Connell monument on Dublin's main street, O'Connell Street, still reveal the bullet holes leftover from the 1916 Easter Rising.
Daniel O'Connell Statue, O'Connell Street
Coat of Arms for Dublin City
Coat of Arms for County Dublin
The River Liffey cuts Dublin in half, creating one of the most distinctive cultural stereotypes in all of Ireland: the "hard working" North Side (articulated perfectly in Roddy Doyle's 1991 comedy movie The Commitments), and the "posh" South Side. (It's worth noting that Bono started his poor childhood in the Northside's Finglas area and moved promptly to the rich Southside's Killiney when he made it! Check out the U2-owned Clarence Hotel in Wellington Quay or the U2 secret studio in Hanover Quay – follow the U2 fan graffiti!)
The Dublin "must see" tourist spots include a tour of the Guinness Storehouse which concludes with the final prize of a fresh pint of Guinness at the Gravity Bar which oversees the city (this is the same bar where Queen Elizabeth recently refused the offer of a free pint!). Another must see tourist spot is the Book of Kells. Nestled in a museum within the 400 year old Trinity College in the heart of the city, the Book of Kells is a 1,200 year old illustrated Latin gospel created by Celtic monks. At the end of the Book of Kells tour you are taken through the Long Room, a 17th century library which looks like it hasn't changed a day. The Long Room is just as, if not more, breathtaking than the Book of Kells and was said to have "inspired" the Jedi Archives in Star Wars - Attack of the Clones (2002).
The Queen's visit to Trinity College
Most people will tell you that those lumbering mountains to the south of Dublin City are the Wicklow Mountains, but any good Southsider will be quick to correct you – they're the Dublin Mountains. A quick 20 minute drive from the city centre to Glencullen will take you to Ireland's highest pub, Johnny Foxes.
The Dublin region is extremely diverse, with people from all over Ireland (and lots from Poland, Italy, Spain, France and the Czech Republic, too) coming to work at the likes of Google, Facebook, PayPal and other high tech companies that have their European headquarters here. Have a pint in Slattery's pub in Ringsend and if you listen carefully you might hear all the secrets of Google as their IT engineers have a few quiet pints.
St Patrick's Day Parade on O'Connell Street
Of course, you're going to have a Guinness in Dublin – that's a given, just make sure you do so at a good local pub, like the "old man's pub", Mulligan's in Poolbeg Street or the 1970s style pub, The Long Hall in South Great Georges Street. Nightlife is a good way to get a pulse on Dublin-, but you might spot some local wildlife in other places occasionally, too. For example, take in an Irish hurling match at historic Croke Park, eating a Teddy's ice cream cone along the pier in Dun Laoghaire (inexplicably pronounced "Dun Leary") on the very odd sunny day or, if you can stand the chilling mire of the Irish Sea, take a plunge off the Forty Foot, a deepwater inlet near Sandycove that was originally kept solely as a gentleman's bathing club, more often than not in the nude, but since the 1970s it is open to all.
Forty Foot, Sandycove, County Dublin
A good tip when you are trying get directions from Dublin locals is to use the hundreds of famous Dublin pubs as easy to remember landmarks along your way to the tourist sites so you don't get lost. They are also good fall back in case you get lost and can also be the reason you never arrive.
Never get too caught up in what tourist sites you saw or didn't see in Dublin as the real Dublin experience is always about having a laugh!
If you are travelling to Dublin here are a selection of tours from Dublin to Ireland's most famous attractions.
Dublin is a really fun city with lots to do. That said, if you only do one tour, make sure you visit Kilmainham Gaol (Jail) over on the West side of the city. It is one of the most unforgettable tours you will ever do in your life.
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