|Dublin Travel Guide|
The most fascinating part of the castle is underground - recent flooding in the castle prompted excavations of the former Powder Tower, which revealed a chunk of the old city walls and moat.
Once the official residence of the British Viceroys in Ireland and now used by the Irish Government, access is by tour only. Sights include drawing rooms with their beautiful plasterwork, once used as bedrooms by visitors to the castle. The castle gardens end in a high wall said to have been built for Queen Victoria's visit to block the sight of the Stephen St slums.
The Figure of Justice that faces the castle's Upper Yard from the Cork Hill entrance has a controversial history. The statue was seen as a snub by many Dubliners, who felt Justice was symbolically turning her back on the city.
If that wasn't enough, when it rained, the scales would fill with water and tilt over, rather than remaining perfectly balanced. Eventually a hole was drilled in the bottom of each pan, letting the water drain out and restoring balance, of sorts.
Housed in an old grain storehouse, it's an impressive enterprise that milks the worldwide fame of Guinness for all it's worth. More multimedia installation than provincial beer museum, the Storehouse uses high-tech audio and visual displays to tell the Guinness story - and what a story it is.
Founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759, St James' Gate brews an astonishing 450 million litres of Guinness per year, which just manages to keep ahead of the 4 million pints per day consumed in Ireland alone.
Back in the 1930s St James' Gate and Guinness was the largest employer in the city. Its 5000-plus employees were paid well above the minimum wage, while receiving the extra perks of subsidised housing, health benefits, pension plans, longer holidays and life insurance.
While lounging in the midst of Irish conversation at a local pub, you might find yourself taking part in speculation on what constitutes the perfect pint. Arm yourself beforehand with the following favoured theories: the pint must be poured in Ireland, as close as possible to the St James's Gate brewery; it must be poured by an expert bartender who has mastered the technique for pulling the brew; and, after half the Guinness has been consumed, there must be a residue of thick white foam in rings on the inside of the glass.
Near the Parkgate St entrance is Europe's tallest obelisk, the 63m (206ft) Wellington Monument, a tribute to the Dublin-born Duke of Wellington. The People's Garden dating from 1864, the Victorian bandstand in the Hollow and Dublin Zoo are all nearby. On the park's southern edge is the derelict, 18th-century Magazine Fort.
Heading northwest along Chesterfield Ave, the Aras an Uachtarain, the Irish president's residence, is on the right. Built in 1751, it housed British viceroys from 1782-1922.
In the centre of the park is the Phoenix Monument, said to mark the site of a spring of fionn uisce, or clear water, from which the park's name is thought to be derived.
The Phoenix Park Visitors Centre, housed in former stables, has exhibits on the history and wildlife of the park.
The park is a pleasant place to stroll during the day, but is unsafe after dark.
Although the term 'bar' is a neat reference to the single, uninterrupted drinking establishment this area becomes on summer nights, it's actually the historical term for a riverside walkway.
It's best to approach Temple Bar with a little knowledge; the area is pleasant enough during the week, but on weekends and evenings it teems with drunken revellers intent on renaming the area Temple Barf. (In fact, many places have banned hen and stag nights as these were harming local trade). If you're looking for a purely hedonistic experience, this is your place, but the area's pubs, cafes and restaurants don't typically offer great value so choose your venue carefully before plunging on in.
On the western perimeter of Temple Bar is Dublin's oldest thoroughfare, Fishamble St, which was originally a Viking enclave. Read's Cutlers, at No 4 Parliament St, lays claim as the city's oldest shop, having been in operation for 240 years.
Trinity College was resolutely Protestant until 1793, when Catholics were theoretically allowed in (although the Catholic Church banned its faithful from entering the infidel halls until 1970), and determinedly masculine until 1903, when women were first admitted.
George Salmon, provost from 1886 to 1904, famously carried out his threat to allow women into the college 'only over his dead body', promptly dropping dead the moment the bluestockings walked through the door.
Apart from these early suffragettes, Trinity College has also played host to some top-drawer scholars including Edmund Burke, Wolfe Tone, Douglas Hyde, Jonathan Swift, Samuel Beckett, Bram Stoker and Oscar Wilde.
Walking tours will take you past statues of famous alumni-poets, iconic architectural features, majestic campaniles, and a few priceless bits and bobs by huge-name artists. And if all of that's not enough, there's still the Book of Kells that's ever-ready to impress.
A few kilometres south of town is the National Stud, the government-sponsored
cornerstone of the country's horse-breeding industry. There are guided
tours of the stud and there's also a museum, which pays homage to Irish
equine greats and to the role of the horse in Irish history. Right next
door to the stud are the Japanese Gardens, an attempt at philosophical
landscaping, which uses a series of landmarks to signify the journey of
life. The gardens are regarded as one of the best examples of the Japanese
style in Europe. Bus services from Dublin take about an hour to reach
Kildare; trains run about every 40 minutes from Heuston station and take
about 30 minutes for the 55km (34mi) trip.
North of the river, in the Shandon area, is an interesting historic part of the city, although it's a bit run down today. Sights to the south include the Protestant St Finbarr's Cathedral, the Cork Museum (largely given over to the nationalist struggle, in which Cork played an important role), the 19th century Cork Jail, the City Hall and numerous churches, breweries and chapels.
The site is surrounded by low marshy ground, which is home to many wild plants and bird life. The museum at the site exhibits graveslabs, original crosses and other artefacts uncovered during excavation.
Buses run to the Burren area from Limerick, Galway City and Ennis. Services in summer are fairly regular, but in winter you'd do well to plan your journey carefully to avoid getting stuck in a timetabling black hole.
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