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Encyclopedia > Dublin, Ireland
This article is about the city in Ireland. For other uses of the name, see Dublin (disambiguation).
City of Dublin

Dublin's ha'penny bridge. Beyond it, the dome of the eighteenth century Custom House and Liberty Hall, the city's tallest building.
County Dublin with location in Ireland. Dublin City highlighted.
city within county
Area: 114.99 km²
County: County Dublin
Population: 495,781 (2002)
Province: Leinster

Dublin (Irish: Baile Átha Cliath) is the capital and largest city of the Republic of Ireland, located near the midpoint of Ireland's east coast, at the mouth of the River Liffey in the County Dublin. The name Dublin derives from the Irish Dubh Linn ("the Black Pool"); the modern Irish-language name Baile Átha Cliath ("The City of the Ford of the Reed Hurdles") refers to the settlement which adjoined the Black Pool.

The earliest reference to Dublin is in the writings of Ptolemy around the year A.D. 140, who calls it Eblana.

Dublin has a population of some 495,000 (CSO Census 2002) within the official city boundary, though such a definition has become largely meaningless with the development and spread of suburbs and satellite towns over a wide surrounding area. The population of the city and county is in excess of 1,100,000 (CSO Census 2002). Though there is no exact agreed definition of the "Greater Dublin" area it would be generally accepted as including all of the city and county and parts of counties Wicklow, Kildare and Meath with the limits of the commuter belt stretching to a much greater distance.



Main article: History of Dublin

The Celtic settlement Áth Cliath ("hurdle ford") predates Dublin's establishment as the Viking settlement "Dubh Linn" in the ninth century. The modern city retains the anglicised Irish name of the latter and the Irish of the former. After the Norman invasion of Ireland Dublin displaced the Hill of Tara as Ireland's capital, much of the power centring on Dublin Castle until independence. From the 17th century the city expanded rapidly helped by the Wide Streets Commission. The Easter Rising of 1916 left the capital in an unstable situation and the Anglo-Irish War and Irish Civil War left the capital in ruins, with many of its finest buildings destroyed. The Irish Free State rebuilt much of the cities buildings but took no bold tasks such as remodelling, it moved parliament into Leinster House. After The Emergency Dublin remained a capital out of time, modernisation was slow, the 1960s saw change start. In recent years the infrastructure has been changed immensely. The Dublin Area Rapid Transit allowed the city to have a transport system suited for any modern European city.

Since the beginning of English rule in the twelfth century the city has served as the capital of the island of Ireland in the varying geopolitical entities that existed:

From 1921, following the partition of Ireland, it served as the capital of Southern Ireland (1921-1922) and the Irish Free State (1922-1937). (Many of these states co-existed or competed within the same timeframe as rivals within either British or Irish constitutional theory.)


Dublin is a major cultural centre in Ireland. Temple Bar is an important place for night life and often people from the UK and beyond visit for the weekend. The city also has a growing gay community.

Dublin is the origin of some prominent artists and writers. Dubliners is a collection of short stories by James Joyce about incidents and characters typical of residents of the city in the early part of the 20th century. Ulysses, also by James Joyce, a novel set in Dublin, is full of topographical detail and is both acclaimed and controversial.

The National Print Museum of Ireland, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the National Gallery of Ireland, the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery and three centers of the National Museum of Ireland are located in Dublin.


Northside vs Southside

The , seen here in the evening, divides the city.
The River Liffey, seen here in the evening, divides the city.

Traditionally a north versus south division has existed in Dublin, with the dividing line provided by the River Liffey. The Northside (written as one word) is generally poorer and more working class, while the Southside is seen as middle and upper class and wealthier. This is also reflected by Dublin postal districts, with odd numbers being used for districts on the Northside, e.g: Raheny is in Dublin 5, and even numbers for ones on the Southside, e.g: Sandymount is in Dublin 4.

This division dates back centuries, certainly to the point when the Earl of Kildare built his residence on the then less regarded Southside and was promptly followed by most other Irish peers, who when asked why he was building on the South Side, said "Where I go, fashion follows me". Paradoxically, while the Southside is wealthier, the President of Ireland's residence, Áras an Uachtaráin, is on the Northside, however its postal district is Dublin 8 which is a Southside number. The residence of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, and his Church of Ireland counterparts until the 1920s, are also on the Northside, whilst one of Dublin's wealthiest suburbs, the Hill of Howth is also on the Northside. The Southside also has many working-class suburbs, like Palmerstown, Crumlin, and Ballyfermot.

Dublin 4

Dublin's middle class liberals are often described as Dublin 4, referring to one of the city's wealthiest postal districts, in which the studios of Radio Telifís Éireann, the national broadcaster are located, as are a number of respected schools, colleges and a university. The modern campus of University College Dublin is located on the boundary of Dublin 4 and Dublin 14. In actuality, the term Dublin 4 or the abbreviated D4 can refer to any middle class Dubliner from the Northside or the Southside or in many cases to simply an attitude that can be found anywhere in Ireland. Many politicians and political commentators live in Dublin 4, while Dublin 4 traditionally takes a strongly liberal stance in referenda on issues like abortion and divorce. The area is also associated with a distinctive accent which can be pleasing to some and painful to others.



Radio Telifís Éireann is Ireland's national state broadcaster, and has its main offices and studios in Dublin. Fair City is the broadcasters' capital based soap, located in the fictional suburb of Carraigstown. TV3 the state's only private television broadcaster is also located in the capital, much of its programming is imported from the UK and the US. It aims to attract a young audience. The main infrastructure and offices of An Post and Eircom as well as Vodafone and mmO2 are located in the capital. The capital is also the location of important national newspapers and radio stations.


Dublin is the center of education in Ireland, having three universities. The University of Dublin is the oldest university in Ireland dating from the 16th Century. Its sole constituent college Trinity College, Dublin was established by Royal Charter under Elizabeth I. The National University of Ireland has its seat in Dublin as well as the location of the associated constitutent university of University College Dublin. Dublin City University is the most recent university created in Ireland and specialises in business, engineering, and science courses which are relevant to industry. It prides itself on its research record. The Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland is an independent medical school located on Stephen's Green in the city center. The National University of Ireland, Maynooth, another constituent university of the NUI is located about 25km from Dublin.

Dublin Institute of Technology is a modern technical college and is the country's largest non-university third level institution; it specialises in technical subjects but also has unique arts courses. It is soon to move to the Grangegorman Campus. There are also smaller institutes of technology at Blanchardstown and Tallaght. The National College of Art and Design and Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art, Design and Technology support training and research in art, design and media technology.

There are also various other smaller specialised colleges, including private ones, in the city.


Dublin is the center of the transport system in Ireland, see Transportation in Ireland. Dublin Port is the country's most important sea port. Dublin Airport is the most important airport in the republic and the bulk of passenger traffic travels through the airport. Heuston Station and Connolly Station are the city's major railway stations, Heuston connects with the towns and cities in the south and west of the Republic while Connolly serves the Sligo and Dublin-Belfast routes. Dublin is also a major hub to the country's road network. Most of the motorway and dual carriageway standard roads in the State fan out from the capital to the regions. The city is also encircled by a semi-ring road called the M50, which runs from Dublin Airport to the north of the city to Shankill in the south. Construction of this project has been ongoing for almost twenty years and the motorway is still not finished, having been delayed by a court case regarding the destruction of medieval ruins at Carrickmines Castle. A toll of €1.80 applies on what is called the Westlink, two adjacent concrete bridges that tower high above the River Liffey near the village of Lucan. The M50 currently has two traffic lanes going either direction but plans are afoot to increase that to three. The National Roads Authority also intends to increase capacity at many of the motorway's busiest junctions by building triple-layered roads instead. To complete the ring road, an Eastern bypass is also proposed for the city of Dublin. The first half of this project is currently under construction, the Dublin Port Tunnel. It is scheduled to open in early 2006 and will mainly cater for heavy vehicles. When finished, Dublin City Council hopes to ban all unnecessary trucks and lorries from the city quays. The second half of the project would involve another tunneling project, linking Dublin Port to the road network on the southside of the city. Plans for this have never been formalised. The capital is also surrounded by what have been termed by Dublin City Council as an inner and outer orbital route. The inner orbital route runs roughly around the heart of the Georgian city from St Stephen's Green to Mountjoy Square and from the King's Inns to St Patrick's Cathedral. The outer orbital route runs largely along the natural circle formed by Dublin's two canals, the Grand and the Royal, as well as the North and South Circular Roads. The Dublin Area Rapid Transit system is the state's only electrified system and runs at regular intervals on the railway line along the east coast. The first phase of the Luas light rail opened in June 2004 and it is hoped that it will usher a new era for south city and county Dublin; a second line connecting the two main train stations of Heuston and Connolly to the suburb of Tallaght has also opened for business. It had been hoped a metro system linking Dublin Airport to the city would be the next major infrastructural project but that now appears ever more unlikely. Plans to build a spur from the DART network to the airport and an interconnector system within the city centre area now appear more likely. Commuter lines to Kildare and Maynooth also service many of the suburbs of West Dublin.


the UGC cinema complex, 17 screens.


City Government

The 18th century Four Courts The headquarters of Ireland's High and Supreme Courts. larger image from a different angle
The 18th century Four Courts The headquarters of Ireland's High and Supreme Courts. larger image from a different angle
Three castles, often on a blue background, is a traditional symbol of the city

Dublin City is governed by Dublin City Council (formerly called Dublin Corporation) which is presided over by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, who is elected for a yearly term and resides in the Mansion House, which first became the residence of the Lord Mayor in 1715. Dublin City Council is based in two major buildings. Its headquarters is in Dublin City Hall, the former Royal Exchange taken over for city government use in the 1850s. Many of its administrative staff are based in the controversial Civic Offices, built on top of what had been one of the best preserved Viking sites in the world. The Corporation's (as it was then) decision to bulldoze the historic site proved one of the most controversial in modern Irish history, with thousands of people, including medieval historian Fr. F.X. Martin and Senator Mary Robinson (later President of Ireland) marching to try to stop the destruction. The destruction of the site on Wood Quay and the building of a set of offices known as The Bunkers (because of their ugly appearance) is generally seen as one of the most disastrous acts against Ireland's heritage since independence, with even Dublin Corporation admitting subsequently that it was ashamed of its action. Originally, there were to be four of these 'bunkers' built but only two were ever completed. Instead the river frontage is a less brutal office block designed by the firm Scott Tallon Walker. Completed in 1994, it boasts a leafy atrium and fine views from many of its offices. Council meetings take place in City Hall, one of Dublin's finest buildings and located on Dame Street. It was built to the winning design of Thomas Cooley. In an architectural competition, James Gandon was the runner-up with a scheme that many people favoured. Originally from England, Gandon is one of Ireland's favourite adopted sons and designed both the Four Courts and the Customs House, two of the city's most magnificent classical buildings.

County Dublin

For centuries the city was administered by Dublin Corporation. The county containing Dublin, known as County Dublin, covers an area of 922 km² and contains over a million inhabitants. In 1994 the Dublin County Council (the area excluding the city) was divided into three districts, each with county-level status and its own administration, namely:

National Government

Leinster House18th century ducal palace now the seat of parliament.
Leinster House
18th century ducal palace now the seat of parliament.

The Republic of Ireland's National Parliament (called Oireachtas Éireann) consists of the President of Ireland and two houses, Dáil Éireann (the House of Representatives) and Seanad Éireann (Senate). All three are based in Dublin. The President of Ireland lives in Áras an Uachtaráin, the former residence of the Governor-General of the Irish Free State in the city's largest park, Phoenix Park. Both houses of the Oireachtas Éireann meet in Leinster House, a former ducal palace on the south side of the city. The building has been the home of Irish parliaments since the creation of the Irish Free State on December 6, 1922.

The Irish Government is based in the Irish Government Buildings, a large building designed by Aston Webb, the architect who created the Edwardian facade to Buckingham Palace. Initially what is now Government Buildings was designed for use as the Royal College of Science, the last major building built by the British administration in Ireland. In 1921 the House of Commons of Southern Ireland met there.

Dublin City Hallformerly the Royal Exchange
Dublin City Hall
formerly the Royal Exchange

Given its location next to Leinster House, the Irish Free State government took over part of the building to serve as a temporary home for some ministries. However both it and Leinster House (originally meant to be a temporary home of parliament) became the permanent homes of the government and parliament respectively. Until 1990, the Irish government shared the building with the Engineering Faculty of University College Dublin, which retained use of the central block of the building, However following the building of a new Engineering Faculty at the UCD campus in Belfield, the Government took entire control, and remodelled the entire building for governmental use.

The previous old Irish Houses of Parliament of the Kingdom of Ireland is located in College Green.

Famous Dubliners

Writers, composers and philosophers


Politicians and Leaders

More images

Christ Church Cathedral

'Christ Church Cathedral, founded c.1030.' Seat since the 16th century of the Church of Ireland Archbishop of Dublin.

Áras an Uachtaráin

Áras an Uachtaráin (sometimes spelt Árus an Uachtaráin, and translated as the President's house) has been the state residence of the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland until 1922, two of the three Irish Governors-General, and since June 1938 all eight Presidents of Ireland. (See Áras an Uachtaráin for the full history.)

Government Buildings

Government Buildings, formerly the Royal College of Science, was built in the first decade of the twentieth century. Its foundation stone was laid by King Edward VII in 1904 and was officially opened by King George V in 1911. (ER and GR meaning Edward Rex - King Edward - and George Rex - King George - are carved on the exteriors of different wings of the building.) In June 1921 it was the venue for the abortive meeting of the Senate and House of Commons of Southern Ireland. In 1922 the new Irish Free State took over two wings for government offices, with the centre block remaining the home of the Royal College of Science (which merged later with University College Dublin). In 1989, UCD finally moved out of the building and the entire building was renovated and turned into a state of the art Government Buildings. Aston Webb, who designed the edwardian facade to Buckingham Palace, was the main architect for this building.

Trinity College Dublin

Trinity College Dublin, the sole constituent college of the University of Dublin. is the oldest of Dublin's three universities. (The others are University College Dublin and Dublin City University). It was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in the sixteenth century. (See Trinity College Dublin)

Liffey Boardwalk

The new Liffey Boardwalk, opened in 2000, stretches from O'Connell Bridge to Grattan (Capel Street) Bridge.

Further images

  • North inner city Dublin from the air
  • Colonnade of the old Irish Houses of Parliament
  • Daniel O'Connell monument in O'Connell Street

See also

Additional reading

  • Maurice Craig, The Architecture of Ireland from the Earliest Times to 1880 (Batsford, Paperback edition 1989) (ISBN 0713425873)
  • Frank McDonald, Saving the City: How to Halt the Destruction of Dublin (Tomar Publishing, 1989) (ISBN 1871793033) foreword by Bob Geldof
  • Edward McParland, Public Architecture in Ireland 1680-1760 (Yale University Press, 2001) (ISBN 0300030641)
  • Hanne Hem, Dubliners, An Anthropologist's Account, Oslo, 1994

External links

  • Dublin City Council (http://www.dublincity.ie)
  • Explanation of English and Irish language names of the city (http://www.openroads.net/editorials/IRE/region_0085_01.php3)
  • A Ten Year Strategy For Dublin City (http://www.dublin.ie)
  • Dublin Spire (http://www.irish-architecture.com/buildings_ireland/dublin/northcity/oconnell_street/spire.html)
  • Dublin City Collective (http://dublin.citycollective.com) - Online community for Dubliners.
  • QueerID.com (http://www.queerid.com) - Guide to Dublin's gay scene
  • Irelandscape (http://www.irelandscape.com) - Pictures of Dublin and other Irish Locations.
  • A guide to Irish architecture irish-architecture.com (http://www.irish-architecture.com) with a large quantity of Dublin material, the associated architecture forum archiseek.com (http://www.archiseek.com) carries considerable discussion of Dublin architecture and planning.

County Dublin

Dublin City ( Northside, Southside) | Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown | Fingal | South Dublin

Cities in Ireland
Republic of Ireland: Dublin | Cork | Limerick | Galway | Waterford | Kilkenny
Northern Ireland: Belfast | Derry | Armagh | Newry | Lisburn

  Results from FactBites:
Dublin - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (3504 words)
Dublin city proper has a population of some 495,000 (CSO Census 2002), though the population of the Dublin metropolitan area is higher, with the development and spread of suburbs and satellite towns continuing into the surrounding areas.
Dubliners is a collection of short stories by James Joyce about incidents and characters typical of residents of the city in the early part of the 20th century.
Dublin City is governed by Dublin City Council (formerly called Dublin Corporation) which is presided over by the Lord Mayor of Dublin, who is elected for a yearly term and resides in the Mansion House, which first became the residence of the Lord Mayor in 1715.
  More results at FactBites »



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