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About Dublin

Riding on the back of the roaring success of the Celtic Tiger economy, Dublin in the new millennium is a city on the rise and rise. Business in many sectors is booming and the city overflows with tourists, who flock to the party capital of Europe to sample the infamous Irish craic (fun).

But things have not always been so rosy for this thousand-year-old city. For much of the first half of the 20th century, strife and unrest tore Dublin apart as it was enmeshed in a messy and violent divorce from Britain. Despite ongoing attempts to find a lasting peace settlement, the religious and political troubles further north still dominate Irish politics.

However, it is easy to see why tourists today head to Dublin in such large numbers. This vibrant, fun-loving city is full of atmospheric pubs where the “craic&” is spun with a well-polished finish and the streets echo with the ghosts of artistic luminaries such as James Joyce and William Yeats. An excellent time to visit is between April and October when the weather is at its best, with July and August as the busiest months. Increasingly, however, the city is a popular destination throughout the year with its many festivals, cultural and religious events and sporting fixtures.

Sightseeing highlights include the early medieval Christchurch Cathedral, Dublin‘s oldest building; the cobbled streets of Temple Bar; Phoenix Park – Europe’s largest urban park; the National Gallery of Ireland and the treasures of the National Museum of Ireland, containing Europe’s finest collection of prehistoric gold artefacts. A plethora of buildings and museums – including Trinity College (Ireland’s oldest university) and the Guinness Storehouse – convey a real sense of living history. Indeed it is this living history, conveyed through the media of music and literature, which has brought Dublin such international acclaim. In the 20th century a string of poets and writers immortalised the city, none more so than James Joyce whose seminal “ulysses”, which depicts one day in Dublin, is considered by many literary critics to be the greatest novel of that century.

In the new millennium, Dubliners are no longer content to rest on the laurels of this richly cultural history. Alongside the smoky old bars, the museums and the folk music in the pubs, there is a new Dublin of funky bars, rebuilt city streets and confident, moneyed twenty-somethings. The new, updated message is being carried forward by popular music acts like Westlife, the Corrs and, the biggest of them all, U2.

This new face of the Irish capital stems mainly from the stunning economic success of the country in recent years, which has managed to combine extensive funding from the EU with sound financial acumen to stimulate high levels of growth. Key industries include electronics, teleservices, retail and tourism. Dublin boasts the youngest population in Europe (with 40% under 25 years of age). Its leafy parks are full of mobile phone swinging young professionals enjoying the summer, while in winter they seek refuge in Dublin’s numerous bars. There is no denying Dublin, the new “capital of Euro-cool”, is currently booming and its citizens are intent on enjoying it while it lasts.

But the economic boom has also had negative implications. Prices have increased dramatically, the long-term unemployment figures remain high and the capital is struggling to come to terms with the recent influx of immigrants and asylum seekers, who have imported cultures often at odds with Dublin’s own lifestyle.

Despite these recent changes, essentially the city and its people have remained the same. Alongside trend-setting bars, clubs and designer shops it is still possible to find quiet, traditional pubs, busking fiddlers in Temple Bar, even horse-drawn carts clip-clopping along cobbled streets. It is a fascinating blend of tradition and contemporary Irish life. No wonder, in Dublin today, Irish eyes are well and truly smiling.


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