For someone who doesn’t like pubs or beer, I realised after I’d booked flights that there wouldn’t be much for me to enjoy in Dublin. I was going to have a stop over there on my solo trip to Poland so I figured I may as well spend a couple of days wandering aimlessly around Dublin and maybe even finding leprechauns or four leaf clovers.
Surprisingly I actually really loved the Irish vibes in Dublin and from my experience the people were really nice, they reminded me of the kiwis in New Zealand! I also learned a heap of interesting facts about Dublin on a free walking tour of the city, which I’d love to share with you today.
Sandmans are a company that I recommend for free walking tours in selected cities around Europe. So far I’ve done their tours in London, Amsterdam, Madrid & Barcelona, and they have always been exceptionally good. Or if you prefer a more personalised experience you can book a local guide to take you on a private tour of Dublin.
A bit of Irish History…
The Irish roots come from ancient Celtic people who came to Dublin in 500BC.
There are ancient monuments in Ireland that are 500 years older than the pyramids of Egypt!
St. Patrick change the Irish religion in the fifth century. Apparently god appeared in his dream and told him to convert everyone to believe in the Christian religion, so he did.
The Vikings invaded and established, and Dublin became a Viking city by 917AD.
The English arrived in Ireland in 970AD. At first they got along really well and become Irish themselves, but in the 1500s (during the Henry VIII period) things changed. Henry made up a new religion, the Protestant Church of England, but Ireland refused to follow so England took some of the Irish land.
Even though there are still links with the UK through the Commonwealth, Ireland officially become it’s own country again in 1919 during the War of Independence.
Ireland was the poorest country in Europe until they joined the EU in 1973, which straight away made them the 4th richest country in the world. But in the Global Financial crisis in 2008 all their money disappeared and now they’re broke again.
Interesting Facts about Ireland…
Less than 10% of people in Ireland actually speak Irish. And Incase you didn’t know, Irish is a completely different language to English. But even the ‘Irish English’ slang is unique to the people of Ireland. They made up the sayings ‘thanks a million’ and ‘thousands of welcomes.’
The commonly used Irish word ‘Craic’ has nothing to do with drugs, and actually means fun. For example, ‘What’s the craic?’ or ‘We’re having mighty craic,’ if you’re having a good time.
There are lots of different Irish accents in Ireland.
Ireland is in the top 3 countries in the world for beer and tea consumption.
The highest ever recorded temperature in Ireland is 33. I was there in the middle of Summer and the weather wasn’t too appealing.
Herling is a Celtic sport, which is the fastest sport in the world. The Irish describe it as a cross between hockey and murder.
Ireland is the only country in the world that has a musical instrument as their country symbol (the harp).
You used to have to pay a tax for every window in your house plus a tax for not being married after 25. How weird? They don’t have that these days but the people still pay a lot of tax in Ireland.
Places to visit in Dublin…
The Dublin Castle is a must see (below).
The River Liffey divides the North and South of the city of Dublin. Locals joke that you should take your passport when crossing the river because there is such a difference in culture. The North is more rough but full of ‘nicer’ local people, whereas the South is very international and considered more upper-class.
The Dublin Gardens are a famous part of Dublin that you must take a walk around (below).
The 400 year old alley way that was seen in the movie ‘P.S. I Love You’ is in Dublin. I’m a sucker for romantic movies and I love this one, so I was excited to be walking through the alley where one of the scenes was filmed. And did you know that the main character, Gerald Butler, is actually scottish! He went on Irish TV to apologise for his bad Irish accent after the movie was released.
The Temple Bar on Essex street is the most popular place for a night out in Dublin. 40 years ago a band called Hype won a band-off on this street and were so excited to celebrate so went to the only bar there at the time, but because it was a posh hotel the manager didn’t let them in. They were very embarrassed so they told him that one day they’ll be rich and famous and will buy that hotel. That band is now known as U2 and they did buy that hotel and also own most of the bars on Essex Street today!
Tip: Be warned that prices for drinks at Temple Bar are very expensive and go up the later it gets, so don’t get caught in the tourist trap!
If you like Guiness or whiskey you can check out the Guiness Door House or the Whiskey Distillery & Museum.
The 121m high Millennium Spire, that was finished in 2003, cost 4 million euros to build and literally has no purpose. It lights up at night though, so at least people can use it as a compass if they get lost.
Another famous point of interest in Dublin is Trinity College. Queen Elizabeth II created this university in 1592, which was the only uni in Ireland for many years. It used to be exclusive to only those who followed the Christian religion, however these days they are less strict. It’s also a very popular place for weddings but you have to have graduated form here within 7 years to have the privilege.
To get a scholarship for Trinity College you must pass very hard exams on top of your studies in your second year. But the benefits of being a scholar, besides a free degree, are that you get free food, accommodation, pocket money AND during exams you’re allowed half a pint of Guinness (to focus) which is only for scholars. How bizarre?
According to my tour guide, the library at Trinity college is the longest library in Europe and is sorted not alphabetically, only by height of the books. Imagine how long it would take to find the book you’re looking for!
Random Fact: The artist who designed this gold sculpture (below) has built it in many places around the the world and earns enormous commissions.
I want to finish this post with a final tip for those of you planning a trip to Ireland but also wanting to see more of the country outside of Dublin. There are limited tours you can take to the countryside and generally include bus journeys of 10+ hours, so the best way to explore Ireland is by hiring your own car or camper van. I hope all the information in this post was helpful and interesting to read. ?
Overall I loved my experience learning about the history and culture of Ireland and will definitely be back again to explore the countryside.
Did you enjoy reading this article? Do you have any other tips for anyone travelling to Dublin? Leave us a comment below…
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