Dublin is, as you might well expect, a very green city. It is full of trees and parks and little houses and winding roads. There are very few high-rise buildings in Dublin and this means that no matter where you are in the city, every time you look up you see a huge expanse of sky. Yes, it is true that usually the sky is unrelentingly grey, and the stereotypes about the rain are also (unfortunately) accurate, but it’s still nice for a city to feel so open to the elements. A river – the river Liffey – runs through the centre of town. When the Vikings came to Ireland they called Dublin ‘Dubh Linn’ or ‘Black Pool’ because of the darkness of the river, and this is the origin of the city’s name, an Anglicisation of the Irish language. It is easy to imagine the Vikings living their lives along the riverbank, sailing up and down in their brightly-coloured boats and making their intricate gold jewellery which can now be seen in the National Museum of Ireland.
There are many things to see in Dublin. It is a small but interesting city with beautiful Georgian houses and a park that is one of the largest walled city parks in Europe. On a nice day you can go and picnic at the zoo (which is contained within the park), visit the President’s residence and see the herd of deer that roam the land there, keeping the grass short and the views interesting. If you venture into the centre of town, you will find Dublin Castle, which started out as a defensive fort and is now a beautiful building used for government affairs. There is also an area known as Temple Bar which is popular with tourists. Temple Bar is a cultural hub, home to the Irish Film Institute, a children’s theatre, some second-hand boutiques and many, many traditional pubs. On Saturdays there is a lively food market. Other interesting sights are the Iveagh Gardens (a badly-kept secret in the heart of the city), the National Gallery (a fusion of architecture both old and new, with stunning paintings from around the world), and the General Post Office which still bears battle scars from the 1916 Easter Rising against the English.
Since Ireland is a relatively tiny country, and potatoes seem to have been the staple food for far too many years, there is not much by way of a native cuisine. One can find really delicious food in traditional Irish pubs, particularly on Sunday, and there are some Irish dishes that are hearty and delicious, but really what is remarkable about Dublin today is that the city and the people in it are so cheerfully welcoming of foreign food. You can find anything you might look for in Dublin; English fish & chips, American diners, Chinese take-aways, Moroccan tagines, Japanese sushi platters, Spanish tapas, Indian curries, Lebanese platters… the list is endless. The Irish have embraced this positive aspect of globalisation with gusto. There is something for everybody by way of food and almost always with very high quality ingredients. There has been a strong push in Ireland in recent years towards organic, healthy food and this has been reflected in the menus around the city.
Of course, outside of Dublin there is a wealth of places to explore, and each county in Ireland has its quirks and treasures, but if you’d like to explore a friendly, bustling little city, Dublin might be right up your alley!