Dublin Introduction Walking Tour, Dublin

Dublin Introduction Walking Tour (Self Guided), Dublin

Sitting on the country's east coast, the capital of the Republic of Ireland is the national center for education, arts, administration and industry. The name Dublin derives from the Irish word Dubhlind. Dubh means "black, dark", and lind means "pool", referring to a dark tidal pool located where the River Poddle enters the Liffey.

Dublin celebrated its “official” millennium in 1988, recognizing 988 as the year in which the first Viking settlement that would later become the Dublin today. It is now thought, however, that the Viking village was preceded by a Christian settlement known as Duibhlinn.

Despite numerous attacks by the native Irish, the settlement remained largely under Viking control until the Norman invasion of Ireland in 1169. The Tudor conquest of Ireland in the 16th century spelled a new era for Dublin, giving it a renewed prominence as the center of administrative rule in Ireland. Determined to make Dublin a Protestant city, Queen Elizabeth I of England established Trinity College in 1592, as a solely Protestant university.

As the city continued to prosper during the 18th century, for a short period, Dublin became the second largest city of the British Empire and the fifth largest city in Europe. The vast majority of its most notable architecture – Temple Bar, Grafton Street, etc. – dates from that period.

Following the 18th century growth, Dublin suffered a period of political and economic decline in the 19th century under the Acts of Union 1800, which saw the seat of government transferred to the Westminster Parliament in London. The Easter Rising of 1916, the Irish War of Independence, and the subsequent Irish Civil War resulted in a significant amount of physical destruction in Dublin.

In recent decades, Dublin has re-emerged. The abundance of historic sights, such as the ancient Dublin Castle, imposing St Patrick’s Cathedral, landscaped St Stephen’s Green park, and numerous museums, has made the city a popular tourist destination. A lively nightlife and ample shopping opportunities add to Dublin's appeal a great deal. To discover the prominent attractions of the Irish capital, take this self-guided introduction tour!
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Dublin Introduction Walking Tour Map

Guide Name: Dublin Introduction Walking Tour
Guide Location: Ireland » Dublin (See other walking tours in Dublin)
Guide Type: Self-guided Walking Tour (Sightseeing)
# of Attractions: 13
Tour Duration: 2 Hour(s)
Travel Distance: 3.8 Km or 2.4 Miles
Author: max
Sight(s) Featured in This Guide:
  • Trinity College
  • Irish Whiskey Museum
  • O'Neill's
  • Molly Malone Statue
  • Ha'penny Bridge
  • Temple Bar
  • Dublin Castle
  • Chester Beatty Library
  • Christ Church Cathedral
  • Dublinia (Synod Hall)
  • St. Patrick's Cathedral
  • St. Stephen's Green
  • Grafton Street
Trinity College

1) Trinity College (must see)

The Trinity College of Dublin, formally known as the College of the Holy and Undivided Trinity of Queen Elizabeth, was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. It is the only constituent college of the University of Dublin, which is Ireland's oldest educational institution.

For much of its history, it served mostly the Protestants, and it wasn't until 1970 that the Catholic Church of Ireland allowed its adherents to attend. As for women, they were first admitted in 1904.

Over the years, the university has educated some of Ireland's most famous poets, playwrights and authors, such as Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Swift, Bram Stoker, Nobel Laureates Samuel Beckett, Ernest Walton and William Cecil Campbell, former Presidents of Ireland Mary McAleese, Douglas Hyde and Mary Robinson, philosophers George Berkeley and Edmund Burke, and many other notable personalities. Given its long history, the university also finds mention in many novels, fables and urban legends.

Its biggest tourist attraction, however, is the enormous Library. As a legal deposit library for Ireland and Great Britain it contains nearly 7 million printed volumes, including manuscripts, maps, and printed music. The oldest part of it, the so-called Old Library, is an architectural masterpiece created by Thomas Burgh. Here, in the Long Room, among other rarities you will find a copy of the 1916 Proclamation of the Irish Republic and the Brian Boru – a 15th-century wooden Gaelic harp, a national symbol of Ireland. Also, the Old Library is a home to the Book of Kells, which was brought here in 1661 for safekeeping after the Cromwellian raids on religious institutions.

Why You Should Visit:
Great place to go to in a sunny afternoon, with numerous places to sit and relax like the cricket pitch or the steps of the Pavilion Bar.
You can see an exhibition at the Douglas Hyde Gallery, attend lectures, performances, or buy a book at the shop.
You can also buy tickets to view the Book of Kells (admission) as well as the spectacular Long Room library.
The spacious college campus is beautiful to walk around and take in as well.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Fri: 9am-5pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Irish Whiskey Museum

2) Irish Whiskey Museum (must see)

Based in a historic building on Grafton Street, opposite the main entrance of Trinity College, the Irish Whiskey Museum is a great combination of Ireland’s best traits – history and booze. Since opening in November 2014, it has been a firm favorite with tourists, allowing visitors to taste some of its huge selection of whiskeys – single grain, malt, pot still or blended, whilst experiencing a variety of live traditional music, storytelling and more.

Those eager to listen, learn and laugh, will certainly do so on the interactive guided tours the museum runs, exploring the four rooms themed to different periods in Irish history. By the end of the tour visitors are likely to become true whiskey connoisseurs.

Those willing to treat themselves to the Whiskey Blending Experience (1 hour 30 minutes), will get a full tour and four whiskeys to taste, and take home a miniature Irish Whiskey Museum bottle with a sample of their very own whiskey blend. The Whiskey and Brunch Experience (1 hour 30 minutes, Saturdays & Sundays) includes the full tour, three whiskeys to taste and an Irish brunch. Also, with the VIP package, one can get an exclusive fourth whiskey and a unique shot class to take home.

Why You Should Visit:
Being independent from all whiskey distilleries in the country, the museum tells the detailed and unbiased history of this famous spirit.

You don't have to drink on the tours, as non-drink tickets are available; children are welcome. Similarly, you don't have to do a tour to taste whiskeys either – simply inquire at the bar, and the staff will assist with a "Whiskey Flight" tasting. Just as the dedicated whiskey retail store, the in-house bar provides a huge selection of Irish whiskeys to choose from, plus their signature Irish Coffee and whiskey cocktails.

Tours are run every day from 10:00 to 18:00. Private tours are available after 18:00. Free audio guides are offered in Spanish, Italian, French, German and Mandarin. Other events take place every Friday, Saturday and Sunday until 22:30.

3) O'Neill's

Should you ever find yourself in downtown Dublin in need of a place for a quiet pint, tasty meal or authentic Irish music performed live, or just to rest your weary feet for a while, there is one such spot called O'Neill's. A regular pub on the outside, on the inside this bar and restaurant is a real pleasure to be in, with its various nooks and crannies, upstairs and down.

They say a tavern on this site has been for nearly 300 years. From 1875 the place was owned by the Hogan Brothers, until M.J. O’Neill bought and renamed it in August 1927. Today, the building is protected and is part of a conservation area – being just a stone's throw away from Temple Bar and around the corner from Trinity College, Grafton Street and the world-famous Molly Malone Statue.

Originally, the venue was split into definite areas: a “cocktail bar” in the corner for the gentry, a public bar off Suffolk Street, and a back bar. In recent years, the next-door premises in Church Lane have been added, as a carvery, and the interior has been opened up. A small snug, immediately inside the Church Lane entrance, was a venue for the “Fabians” of the early 1960s and for later left-wing students from Trinity College. There is also an original beer garden, a smoking area and late bar for those who want to have more fun at weekends.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Molly Malone Statue

4) Molly Malone Statue

The Molly Malone Statue, by Jean Rynhart, is a rather controversial piece of sculpture set up on Grafton Street during the 1988 Dublin Millennium festivities.

The controversy arose after the unveiling of the statue: Jean Rynhart presented Molly as a young woman with large breasts all but falling out of her low-cut dress. According to the famous song, “sweet Molly Malone” was a fishmonger, but stories add that she was also a part-time prostitute.

Other stories relate that she was one of the few chaste street sellers of the 17th century. For those who believe in the “chaste” story, the statue is an affront to women; to others the statue has been dubbed “The Tart with the Cart” or “The Dish with the Fish”.

No matter, as Molly Malone the fishmonger probably never existed anyway. The song which first appeared in the 19th century is a mystery too. It has none of the airs of a traditional Irish street ballad and some say its origins are Scottish, while others say it is a Victorian music hall ballad. It is a song associated with Dublin because of the first line “In Dublin’s fair city” and has practically become a second national anthem. Since 1988, the 13th of June has been officially labelled Molly Malone Day.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Ha'penny Bridge

5) Ha'penny Bridge

Commonly referred to as the Ha'penny Bridge, this white-picketed, cast-iron beauty is officially known as the Liffey Bridge. Upon its construction, though, the bridge was called Wellington (after the Dublin-born Duke of Wellington). Built in May 1816, it was the first pedestrian bridge spanning over the river Liffey in Dublin.

The bridge was cast in Shropshire, England and was meant to replace the seven ferries operating across the Liffey at the time, which were in a very bad condition. The Ha’penny nickname derives from a “halfpenny” charge levied upon the pedestrians for crossing it. Initially the toll was based not on the cost of construction, but to match the charges levied by the ferries it replaced. A further condition of construction was that, if the citizens of Dublin found the bridge and the toll to be "objectionable" within its first year of operation, it was to be removed at no cost to the city. Eventually, the toll was raised to a penny-ha'penny (1½ pence), until it was finally dropped in 1919.

Today, the Ha'penny Bridge is one of the prime landmarks of Dublin – appearing on postcards, tourism brochures, books and memorabilia.

For an even more unique & unusual experience, visitors may go on a kayak tour under the bridge with City Kayaking, which run all year round, and if lucky, even catch one of Dublin’s famous autumn sunsets. From time to time, there are also ‘Music Under the Bridge’ tours featuring some of the best musicians in Dublin performing under the bridges as people kayak down the River Liffey through the city.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Temple Bar

6) Temple Bar (must see)

When it comes to Dublin, the term “Temple Bar” means more than just a pub, but is a cultural corner and the liveliest area in the city – ideal to spend a day or evening.

The district sits on the south bank of the River Liffey and is a delight of medieval cobble-stoned streets, full of pubs, clubs restaurants and cafes. There are also souvenir shops, tattoo parlors, second-hand stores and the Reptile Haven, a pet shop with a difference where you will find almost any type of lizard or snake you can possibly think of.

The area is also home to the Irish Photography Centre, the Ark Children’s Cultural Centre and the Irish Film Institute. There is plenty of street entertainment with singers, magicians and clowns, and on weekends there are three great markets: the Temple Bar Food Market every Saturday is full of locally-grown fruit and vegetables and delicious pastries and cakes; the Temple Bar Book Market on Saturday and Sunday sells second-hand and new books, CDs and old records; in the Designer Market at Cow’s Lane you can buy locally-made arts and crafts.

The district is the center of Dublin’s nightlife, packed with nightclubs and pubs, including Bob’s Backstage Bar where you can listen to country music, the Ha’penny Bridge Inn with a folk-song programme, and Oliver St John Gogarty Pub and Restaurant which has live groups singing traditional Irish songs.

Why You Should Visit:
Packed but a really quaint, lively place – quintessentially Irish!
Live music all day long, many great spots to snap a photo, loads of eateries, and the bartenders pour a perfect pint every time.

This is Dublin's tourist hotspot, so expect to pay tourist prices!
The less busy/more affordable (but still enjoyable) pubs are just a bit farther afield, and many of them too.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Wed: 10:30am-2am; Thu-Sat: 10:30am-2:30am; Sun: 12pm-1am
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Dublin Castle

7) Dublin Castle (must see)

A visit to Dublin Castle, just off Dame Street, should be on everyone’s “must see” list. It is used for state functions, including the inauguration of the Irish President. It also houses the Revenue Commissioners, offices of the Public Works and certain sections of the Garda Siochana.

The castle was first built in 1204, 35 years after the Norman invasion of Ireland. King John of England ordered its construction as a defense measure for the population and also to protect the King’s Treasury. A typical Norman construction, it consisted of a central courtyard, surrounded by high walls with four towers at each corner.

Inside, the castle courtyard contained several wooden buildings, until the Great Hall was added in the Middle Ages. Built of stone and wood, it was used for banquets, as a courtroom and sometimes as the Parliament house too. The hall was demolished in 1673 after suffering extensive fire damage.

The castle was rebuilt and extended between the 17th and 20th centuries, and today the main complex comprises the State Apartments, made up of St Patrick’s Hall, the State Dining Room, the State Drawing Room, the State Corridor and the Throne Room, which was once the Battleaxe Hall. These rooms, along with the Undercroft, the Heritage Centre, the Chapel Royal, the Craft Shop and the castle restaurant, are open daily to visitors.

Why You Should Visit:
Spacious and beautiful; the huge courtyard allows for breathtaking panoramic photographs.
Great history to read up on, large rooms and chandeliers, good little tea shop which sells cakes, pastries, etc., with doors to the ground which are nicely kept and good to walk around.

Definitely go for the guided tour! If you just see the castle grounds from the outside (free), you will miss the real thing. Note: the numbers on the tours are limited, so it would be worth booking to guarantee a slot at the time you want.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9:45am-5:15pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Chester Beatty Library

8) Chester Beatty Library (must see)

The Chester Beatty Library is housed in the 18th-century clock tower on the grounds of Dublin Castle and is a wonderful museum to visit.

The library opened in 1950 and holds the vast and varied collection of Sir Alfred Chester Beatty, a mining millionaire and collector of Oriental books and artifacts. The museum has two sections: “Artistic Traditions” and “Sacred Traditions”.

Here you will find a magnificent collection of manuscripts and papyruses covering over 4,000 years of religious culture, including Christian Bibles, copies of the Koran, Chinese jade books and Japanese woodblock prints. Also on display are the priceless “Life of the Prophet” and “The Gospel of Mani”, which is possibly the last remaining Manichaeism artifact.

You can also admire Turkish and Persian miniature paintings, Chinese Dragon robes, Buddhist paintings and European medieval and Renaissance manuscripts, prints, drawings, a collection of rare books, as well as Islamic, East Asian and Western decorative art and a wonderful display of East Asian carved snuff boxes.

It isn’t unusual to find students in the museum, as it is one of the most important sources for religious studies. As well as the permanent collection, the museum hosts temporary exhibitions of Islamic law texts, photos of China and its people over the decades, and Japanese art.

Why You Should Visit:
There are lots of great book & antique art collections in the world but the preservation techniques used by the Chester Beatty are amazing.
Reputedly one of the best museums in the world, let alone Ireland.

Free one-hour tours are available on Wednesdays and Sundays.
Don't miss the classy Silk Road café full of yummy Middle Eastern cuisine.
And, as an extra, there are a rooftop "meditation" garden, as well as the gardens out the front with great views to the Castle.

Opening Hours: Monday - Friday: 10am-5pm; Saturday: 11am-5pm; Sunday: 1-5pm.
Closed 1 January; Good Friday; 24, 25 and 26 December; and Monday public holidays.
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Christ Church Cathedral

9) Christ Church Cathedral (must see)

While in Dublin, you really should visit the Christ Church Cathedral which is the oldest medieval church in the city.

In the early 11th century the Norse-Gael King, Sitric Silkenbeard, went on a pilgrimage to Rome and, on his return, founded the cathedral overlooking the Viking settlement in Wood Quay. Originally wooden, it was rebuilt in stone in 1180. An extra nave and the Chapel of Saint Laurence O’Toole were added in the 13th century.

The church is somewhat unique in the fact that it is the seat of both the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Ireland and the Anglican Church of Ireland. While the cathedral remains in the church, the Archbishop uses St Mary’s Church and the cathedral is managed by the dean and chapter.

The crypt, dating back to 1172, is the largest in Ireland. It is also the earliest surviving structure in Dublin. It houses the oldest secular carvings and carved statues in the country. There is a 17th-century tabernacle and candelabras, and you can see 17th-century stocks that were once set up beside the church doors to publicly punish offenders. An unusual display in the crypt is the mummified remains of a cat and a rat found trapped behind the organ.

Inside the crypt, you can watch a short video on the history of the cathedral and visit the cathedral shop where you will find souvenirs and documents about the beginning of Christianity in Ireland. The cathedral cafe is also here; it serves sandwiches, a variety of cakes, scones and cream, as well as tea and coffee.

At the west end of the building, an ancient stone bridge leads to the former synod hall, which today is home to the Dublinia Exhibition of Medieval Dublin. The cathedral has 19 bells, the ringing of which is carried out by the Master of the Tower and the Ringing Master.

Why You Should Visit:
The crypt is outstanding and incredible, the belfry offers amazing views, the stories by the guides are excellent, and the architecture of the building is an art in itself!

They have lovely lunchtime and evening concerts here, if you're lucky enough to catch one.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 9:30am-5pm; Sun: 12:30-2:30pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Dublinia (Synod Hall)

10) Dublinia (Synod Hall)

Whether you are a student or a family visiting Dublin, a great place to have much fun while learning about the city’s past is Dublinia – the former Synod Hall of Christ Church Cathedral.

This marvelous interactive museum, which opened in 1993, is full of workshops, activities, live-sized figures and a room with artifacts taken from archaeological digs around Wood Quay. You can walk through medieval Dublin or rub shoulders with Vikings to your heart’s content. There really is something for everyone here!

In the Viking World you will follow their history from the first Viking raids, through their settling in Ireland, to their ultimate defeat. You will learn about their trade and how they lived – will visit a typical Viking home, only to find that the loo is occupied by a Viking with a very uncomfortable expression on his face – something he ate, no doubt! You can squash together onto a Viking war boat and find out about conditions on board and perhaps understand why they were so keen to land! You can even “sell” your kids (or parents) to slave traders and see them in slave chains!

The History of Dublin takes over from the defeat of the Vikings and continues to the dissolution of the Catholic churches, monasteries and abbeys by Henry VIII between 1534 and 1539. In this part of the reconstruction of Dublin in the Middle Ages, you can visit a rich merchant’s house, take part in fun fair games and even throw softballs (representing rotten fruit) at the poor chap in the stocks. To see how the nobles waged war, you can try on a suit of armor, which will leave you wondering how medieval knights even got on their horses carrying all that weight.

The Dublinia experience is great fun and it brings history to life with its stories told around the campfire, its sounds and smells recreated through speakers and ventilation shafts (don’t worry, it’s mostly wood-smoke and roasting meat) and its attention to details that are based on real historic facts.

Opening hours:
March to September: Monday to Sunday: 10.00am-6.30pm.
October to February: Monday to Sunday: 10.00am-5.30pm.
St. Patrick's Cathedral

11) St. Patrick's Cathedral (must see)

St Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church in Ireland and one of the oldest. According to legend, the first church was built in the 5th century on the site where Saint Patrick used the water from a well to baptize the newly-converted Christians. The well became known as the Holy Well and the wooden church was built beside it.

In 1192 it was elevated to the status of a cathedral, which was unusual, as the growing city already had one – Christ Church. The present church – with a 43-meter spire – was built between 1199 and 1270.

Throughout 1783-1871, the cathedral had been used as a chapel by the Knights of Saint Patrick, a part of the Order of Saint Patrick, attesting to which are the heraldic banners hanging above the choir stalls. The church is filled with busts, monuments and memorial plaques.

One curiosity is the “Door of Reconciliation”. The story about the door is based more on a legend than fact, though – in 1492, Thomas Butler, 7th Earl of Osmond, and Gerald Fitzgerald, 8th Earl of Kildare, waged war on each other. The Earl of Ormond hid in the cathedral’s Chapter House and the Earl of Kildare had his men cut a hole in the door, through which he put his hand in a gesture of peace.

In the cathedral shop, you can buy CDs recorded by the choir and the organists, books, traditional Irish souvenirs and very pretty silver jewelry.

Why You Should Visit:
A sight to behold; more of a historical place and not so much a 'worshiping' cathedral.
Tours are run by volunteers, for about 45 minutes to an hour, and carry no extra cost.
There is also a very pretty park (church grounds) next door, that is open to the public.

Make sure to check online for any scheduled events prior to your visit.

Opening Hours:
Daily: 9am-5:30pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
St. Stephen's Green

12) St. Stephen's Green (must see)

If you don’t want to wait your turn in one of the busy restaurants in the shopping center, the best thing to do is to pick up a sandwich and a drink, and take it to Saint Stephen’s Green Park on the south end of Grafton Street.

This 27-acre park is the biggest of Dublin’s Georgian square parks. It was laid out in 1880 by Sir A. Guinness and is a delightful area to have your lunch, with its flower beds, shady walks, fountains and benches round a large ornamental lake where you can feed the ducks. In the summer, open-air concerts are often held here.

The rectangular park is surrounded by stately Georgian houses and is noted for its many statues and memorials. The former include a statue honoring Sir A. Guinness; a bronze statue of Theobald Wolfe Tone surrounded by monoliths (the locals call this “Tonehenge”); a fountain statue of the Three Fates, donated by German refugees after the Second World War; a statue of Robert Emmet and busts of James Joyce and Constance Markievicz.

Among the memorials there are the Yeats Memorial Garden with its statue by Henry Moore; the Fusiliers Arch, a memorial to the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the Second Boer War; a monument to Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, the Fenian leader and member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, and a memorial of the Great Famine that caused so much death and misery in Ireland between 1845 and 1850.

Why You Should Visit:
Beautiful, cosy and tranquil park. There are lovely little ponds with swans and ducks, and plenty of places to sit.
Many cafes nearby, just down the road, where you can pop in for a cake and coffee/tea before or after your walk.

Opening Hours:
Mon-Sat: 8am-6pm; Sun: 10am-6pm
Sight description based on Wikipedia.
Grafton Street

13) Grafton Street (must see)

Give yourself a break from exploring Dublin’s museums, theatres and galleries, and spoil yourself with an afternoon’s shopping in Grafton Street, the biggest thoroughfare in the city.

The street runs from College Green in the north to St Stephen’s Green and shopping centre in the south. The nice thing about it – apart from the wonderful shops – is that it’s mostly a pedestrian precinct, so you only have to dodge other shoppers and not heavy traffic.

The street is named after the 1st Duke of Grafton, Henry Grafton who King Charles II’s illegitimate son. Until the O’Connell Bridge was built, it was a residential area. The section between Nassau Street and College Green is open to vehicles and you can see Trinity College Provost’s House and the statue of Molly Malone here.

The best and most exclusive of all Dublin’s shops are found here, but there are also more modest ones selling souvenirs, clothes and accessories at more reasonable prices. There are also a number of pubs and restaurants that serve a wide range of food: French, Italian and traditional American burgers – the envy of McDonalds!

The street is always busy and full of buskers, musicians, clowns, mime artists, poets and magicians. It’s a great place to pick up some bargains to take home.

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