Dublin Heuston railway station is the main train station in the Irish capital city, serving as a gateway to the rest of the country, and as a nerve centre for the urban rail system of Dublin. The intuitive arrangement of platforms and journey types makes it an easy place to get around; both the local suburbs and coast towns near Dublin receive service, while longer journeys to the popular provinces are also available. Dublin buses meanwhile operate their Airlink 747 bus service from Heuston to Dublin airport.
Recent renovations include a new roof which admits much more sunlight to the platforms, improving the facility’s appearance. Restaurants and shops exist to provide sustenance and diversion for waiting passengers, while toilet facilities and the visitor information area act to convenience journeys. Ambitious future plans to link the DART underground train system with Heuston, and construct a new station conveniently placed in Dublin’s docklands, are also slated to go ahead in forthcoming years.
Dublin’s City Hall fulfils its role as the municipal seat of government while also offering visitors to the capital a wonderful selection of interesting old artefacts on show. A history of Ireland and Dublin as the administrative centre through a cohesive story told within the hall’s vaults. The collection itself is comprehensive and fairly vast, with entry costing a mere 4 euros or less if booked online. Refreshments are available during and after the exhibition, which covers the period of Ireland’s Anglo-Norman occupation in the 12th century and onward.
The magnificent Georgian structure itself is home to a beautiful rotunda to which entry is free. Within the architectural splendour of the stone and marble constructions are shown off to their fullest, while information on popular activities such as the Dublin Culture Trail is available from the reception area. Weddings in Dublin City Hall are likewise popular, with the beautiful dome and seated chamber the scene of many a marriage every year.
Grafton Street is the shopping epicentre of Dublin, with a formidable variety of storefronts with the best clothing, souvenirs, gift ideas, and much more. For about 30 years now the street has been pedestrianised and – in keeping with shopping street traditions – has a few notable statues for sightseers to inspect and enjoy. An old favourite popular with local Dubliners and tourists, namely the Bewley’s tea and coffee rooms, remains open to a public eager to sample some genuine Irish hospitality and refreshments.
If you have just had a long day touring Dublin city, the multitude of restaurants in and around Grafton Street make it a superb place to conclude a day or prelude a night out in the nearby Temple Bar area. Notably among places of its kind, several of Grafton Street’s entertaining street performers and buskers have gone on to success and careers in performance and music in Ireland and beyond.
St Patrick’s Cathedral is the oldest cathedral in all of Ireland, tracing its origins back almost a thousand years to 11th century Dublin. At the time the building was conceived to honour Ireland’s patron saint, with support forthcoming. By 1220 the magnificent Gothic structure of archways and spires present today was standing as Ireland’s proudest monument to Christendom. So much has happened around St. Patrick’s over the years that the site is occasionally visited by archaeologists keen to unearth secrets of Ireland’s medieval past.
Despite its historicity, the cathedral’s prime purpose continues to be as a place of worship. While services proceed freely, those visiting to sightsee and observe the relics and architecture are asked to pay a modest entrance fee, the entirety of which goes toward keeping the ancient building maintained in all its beauty. The cathedral also plays an active role in the community, organising charitable fundraisers, school visits with the local St. Patrick’s Grammar School, and of course the yearly Christmas and Easter services and prayers.
The Howth Head in Fingal County is a stunning area of national beauty perfect for a day’s stroll. The area offers picturesque views across the eastern Irish coastline and Dublin Bay, from the splendid green hills to the sandy beaches below. Close by is the Dublin suburb of Howth, which has a number of cafes, tea rooms and eateries suitable for the eager traveller to enter and gain respite from the brisk yet refreshing coastal breezes.
The Howth Head is a superb place to walk, with pathways leading out near the lighthouse. All around the area the rolling green hills, beaches and rocks constantly lashed with waves offer up reason aplenty for Ireland gaining its nickname of The Emerald Isle. A day out in Howth is quite easy for those staying in or near central Dublin, with the Dublin Bus services running regularly out to this picturesque region, and the local Dublin Area Rapid Transit (DART) running trains to the area’s old station with characteristic expedience.
Overlooking the Liffey in stately fashion, The Custom House in Dublin is a beautiful example of a neo-classical building, forming one of the centrepieces of the Dublin city centre with its magisterial archways and columns. A copper-domed belfry topped off with a statue of Commerce, while a variety of pediments showcase statues designed to personify the four major continents of Europe, Asia, Africa and America as well as Gods and Goddesses of antiquity such as Mercury, Neptune, Plenty and Industry.
The Custom House in itself is a popular place for tourists to visit, with many spending a good half hour or more admiring and photographing the sculptures and craftsmanship which is in bountiful evidence. The local government in the modern day renovated and cleaned the stonework, which is comprised of locally quarried and manufactured Ardbraccan limestone.
The Samuel Beckett Bridge represents one of the pinnacles of architectural design in Dublin, giving its docklands a truly modern edge; a lengthy spar offering a beautiful counterpoint to the industrial and commercial buildings which comprise the area. Named for the great Irish writer Samuel Beckett, the bridge greets those arriving in Dublin by ferry with an image evocative of its national symbolism – the cables which suspend the structure are designed to offer the impression of a harp, which is Ireland’s national symbol.
Many thousands of residents and visitors to Ireland walk upon the bridge on a daily basis, with many stopping as they cross to soak in the delightful views it affords into both Dublin’s industrial heartland and shipping channels, and the splendid marriage of the traditional and the modern which constitutes the Irish capital’s city centre.
Dublin Port sees sizeable amounts of shipping traffic enter and leave Dublin on a daily basis, with the facilities present able to host large modern container vessels for unloading. A public-private business partnership controls the port, which is located a short way east of Dublin city centre.
Dublin Port is also an important transport hub for visitors to Dublin, with ferries running between UK ports in Liverpool, Holyhead and (during the festive season) the Isle of Man. More and more people choose to visit the Irish capital by ferry, with the Irish Ferries company favoured by those who enjoy a relaxing journey in comfort across the Irish Sea. Opportunities abound for a swift transfers from the port terminal to Dublin’s best hotels. Those visiting Dublin on cruise liners disembark at Dublin Port, at a ferry terminal specially designed for passenger carrying craft to moor.
The River Liffey runs through Dublin and provides the vast majority of drinking and washing water used by Ireland’s capital. Several canny bar and restaurant proprietors have capitalised on the Liffey’s attractive appearance, installing window seating allowing patrons to watch the river traffic go by. Several crossings, such as the stone brick O’Connell Bridge and the cast iron built Ha’Penny Bridge, span the length of the river and afford those walking upon them delightful views across Dublin.
River tours regularly run up the river, with the Liffey Voyage ship taking people on a leisurely little cruise most days. Passengers can learn a bit about the Liffey’s own history as a shipping channel, and about many interesting areas and attractions in Dublin. Since 1960 an annual, very lively canoe race known as the Liffey Descent has taken place upon the river’s waters, usually every September.
Dublin’s Phoenix Park is a colossal example of Irish parkland, spanning an impressive 707 hectares from the western reaches of central Dublin out into the capital’s outskirts. The park is phenomenally popular, offering locals and visitors alike the chance to stroll its fields and pathways in sublime tranquillity. Various monuments pepper the landscape, such as the Magazine Fort’s marking of the original site of Phoenix House and the Victorian People’s Garden where that era’s detailed and ornamental approach to landscaping is shown off.
The Phoenix Park visitor centre acts to chronicle the area’s long heritage, from its early years as a country estate to its modern status as the biggest single enclosed recreational ground in the entire European continent. The area’s significance prior to surviving structures, for example its purpose as a burial site around the hill of Knockmary, is also paid rightful heed.