The Custom House
The Custom House is one of Dublin’s most magnificent buildings. It was designed by James Gandon and built between 1781-91 to replace an older building on Essex Quay. It was designed to be looked at from all angles and is rich in structural detail. Of particular interest are the 14 keystone heads which represent the 13 Irish Rivers and the Atlantic Ocean, the cornerstones of Irish trade. The original interior was completely destroyed in 1921 when it was attacked by the IRA during the War of Independence. It currently houses the Dept of the Environment.
The General Post Office(GPO) is the main building on O’Connell Street, Dublin City’s main street and is the home to An Post, the Irish postal service. It was built between 1815-18 and is one of the last great georgian buildings built in the city. Its main featres being the huge protico with six columns, which is surmounted by three figures, Mercury, Hibernia and Fidelity. Historically the GPO’s greatest signifigance was as the headquarters of the 1916 Rising. It was here that Patrick Pearse read aloud ‘The Proclamation of the Irish Republic’ and alongside James Connolly and some of the Irish Volunteers occupied the building for a week. Other buildings throughout the city were also taken, but all of them subsequently surrendered and most of the leaders executed. The GPO itself was mostly destroyed from shelling and wasn’t rebuilt until 1925, when the Irish Free State was set up. In present day the GPO is open daily as a post office, and its history is remembered with paintings inside commerating the 1916 Rising, a plaque of the ‘The Proclamation of the Irish Republic’ which hangs on the wall and by a statue of the Legendary Celtic Warrior, Cuchulainn.
The Four Courts
The Four Courts contain the Supreme Court and the High Court of Ireland. Completed in 1786 and designed by the architect James Gandon. It is designed as a single quadrangle with four original courts, the King’s Bench, Chancery, Exchequer and Common Pleas. It was originally built as a records storage building but part way through the construction it was decided to transfer the courts of law from St Michaels Hill. The building was severely damaged in 1922 during the Civil War wnd most of the documents of the Public Records Office were destroyed. This is now the reason why it is very hard to trace relatives in Dublin before the 19th Century.
Built in 1204 by king John, Dublin Castle was built as a fortress suitable for administration and the defense of Dublin. Despite its function the castle never had to withstand a major attack, only minor battles in the Kildare Rebellion and the Easter Rising 1916. It was the centre for British rule until 1922 when it was handed over to the new Irish Free State. The original building was built between 1204-68 on high ground in the city between the rivers Liffey and Poddle. It was also surrounded by high walls and a moat. After a fire in 1684 the building was largely rebuilt, with very little of the old medievil structure left.
St. Patricks Cathedral
The National Church of the Church of Ireland, it was originally built as a church in 1192. It was built on the site that it was believed that St. Patrick performed his first baptism in Ireland in a well on the grounds, which is still there. It was upgraded to a cathedral status in 1213. Most of the present building dates back to the 13th and 14th centuries. It did fall into poor condition however, up until the 19th century but was restored then by Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness. The author Jonathon Swift was dean here from 1713 to 1745.
Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral is the cathedral church of the archdiocese of Dublin and Glendalough, which it has been since 1038ad. The building that now stands on the site was, however, was built in 1234 by the Anglo-Normans. The cathedral did have further additions after this and was extensively restored in the 1870’s. The cathedral, as the main church of the English empire in Ireland, was a very important building in the city. Here King Edward VI was crowned, and also the lord deputies took their oaths of office. Now Christ Church Cathedral is one of the most beautiful building in the city where it stands on the hill overlooking wood quay. Dublinia is also located on its grounds which is a Viking museum.
The Ha’penny Bridge
The Ha’penny bridge has become one of the symbols of Dublin. It is a beautiful old Georgian pedestrian bridge built in the 18th Century, which spans the River Liffey between O’Connell St and Capel St. The North side leads out onto Liffey St, while the south side leads out to the Temple Bar arch, which itself leads out to the Meeting Place Square in Temple Bar. Although the name of the bridge has been changed many times, this was always the name it was given by the locals and eventually officially named. The name comes from the fact that it used to cost one half penny in old english money to cross the bridge. The toll was eventually taken away but the name still persists.
Saint Stephens Green
St Stephens Green is a beautiful Georgian park in the centre of the city. It is surrounded by St Stephens Sq which is a square of old Georgian houses which overlook the park. The park was built as a present to the people of the city by the Guinness family in the 19th Century. It is still to this day the main park in the city. On a sunny day hundreds of people flock to the park to enjoy the sun.
Trinity College Dublin
Trinity College, Dublin was the first university established in Ireland. Althought it was widely agreed that a university was required in the city, shortage of funds meant it was only founded in 1592, by both Dublin Corporation and the Archbishop. Altough it was meant to provide education to the whole country, it really only provided it to the protestant community. This was mainly because it was a protestant college and was was modelled on Cambridge university. It wasn’t until 1793 that the university was opened to Catholics. During the 1700’s and 1800’s most of the buildings that are now seen were completed.
The university was also the first in Great Britain and Ireland to admit in 1904. Although the college was open to Catholics, even after independence, the college remained very protestant. This was due to a ban on catholics attending the college by the catholic church. It wasn’t until 1970 when the ban was rescinded and state funds were given to the college did the Catholic, and indeed general, numbers soar. The university is now the main university in the country and now houses such treasures as the ‘Book of Kells’, the ancient Celtic manuscript. You can just walk into Trinity at any time, although going inside and seeing the Book of Kells is only aloud at certain times.
The Dublin Spire
The Dublin Spire, or the ‘Spike’ as it now more commonly know, is the newest addition to the Dublin skyline. It was commisioned to mark the millenium celebrations in the city, but it in reality it was not completed until early 2003. It stands on the old site of Nelsons Pillar which was famously blown up by the IRA. It has however become a major argument amongst Dubliners as to whether it is a worthy addition to the cityscape. The Spire stands 120 metres tall and is the largest sculpture in the world. It is to be the centre of the new O’Connell Street redevelopment, which aims at reshaping the famous street, and making it into more of a boulevard style, a la Champes Elysee. The new boulevard is set to be unveiled during the 2004 May Day celebrations in the city, which also coincides with Ireland’s presidency of the E.U. and the entrance of the 10 new member countries into the E.U.
Fitzwilliam Street And The Grand Canal
On the corner of Mount Street Upper, No 29 Fitzwilliam Street has been completely furnished in the style of a middle-class family house of the period 1790 – 1820 with items from the National Museum Collection. The guided tours take in the lives of all the members of the household, passing from the kitchen and pantry through drawing rooms and bedrooms to the nursery. William Dargan, the railway designer, lived at No 2 Fitzwilliam Street, and Fitzwilliam House, No 6, was the home of Margaret Burke Sheridan, the Irish prima donna famous for her renditions of Puccini’s work.
A visit to the home of Guinness is the high point of any trip to Dublin. At the Guinness Storehouse you’ll discover all there is to know about the world famous beer. It’s a dramatic story that begins over 250 years ago and ends in Gravity, the sky bar, with a complimentary pint of Guinness and an astonishing view of Dublin City!
Merrion Square is undoubtedly one of the finest Georgian squares in the city. Famous residents of the imposing Georgian townhouses that line the square include the parents of Oscar Wilde, who lived at Number 1, WB Yeats, Daniel O’Connell and the couturier Sybil Connolly who still lives at number 71 and whose garden is open to the public. For an insight into life in Georgian Dublin, visit number 29 Fitzwilliam Street, a short walk from Merrion Square. This recreated Georgian family home gives a fascinating insight into the way life was lived in the late 1700s and early 1800s, from the basement kitchen with its high shelves used to protect food from rats right up to the first floor salon where the lady of the house held music evenings, and onto the bedrooms on the upper floors. Furniture, china, silver and glass borrowed from the National Museum of Ireland is faithful to the period, as are the costumes exhibited on dummy models. You will find more information on Georgian Dublin in The Georgian trail, a tour outlined in the “Heritage Trails” guide, which follows some of the most exquisite 18th century streets in the city centre. The guide is available from the Dublin Tourism Centre.
The National Wax Museum
The main section of the Wax Museum broadly reflects the historical and cultural development of Ireland. Included in the collection is life-sized figures of Robert Emmet, Wolf Tone, Parnell, our President and Taoisaigh together with literary figures such as Joyce, Yaets and there contempories.
Temple Bar is Dublin’s Cultural Quarter. First Developed in the 19th century with narrow cobbled streets running close to the banks of the river Liffey, the area is full of character and charm. The streets are pedestrianised and to really appreciate all that Temple Bar has to offer, take time to stroll around. Ideally situated in the heart of the city centre the area is a hive of activity where artists, designers and young entrepreneurs with creative ideas have set up small art galleries, cafes, theatres and colourful shops.