â€śMan, look at that view!â€ť Fresh out of high school at the end of June 2015, we were excited to embark upon an adventure, unlike anything weâ€™ve experienced before. Many of my peers were bright-eyed eighteen-year-olds and had never even been to New York, let alone outside of the country. Â A senior trip is annually coordinated by faculty at my high school and the destinations for 2015 were: Ireland, Wales, the United Kingdom, and France. Â Being of Irish and English heritage (from my fatherâ€™s side of the family), the idea of setting foot where my ancestors might have been was thrilling for a curious and ambitious teenager. The world could finally be my oyster! Out of all the destinations we visited, the city of Dublin will always hold a special place in my heart. As it is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland, constant reminders of the countryâ€™s rich heritage will be apparent from the 13th-century architecture, cobblestone roads, and landmarks that remain. For this guide, I selected four top must-go destinations for visitors new to the area.
Dublin is the hotbed of Irish history. Constructed in 1204, this castle is a gorgeous example of Norman architecture. Over 800 years, the Dublin Castle has been the scene of significant moments of history, such as the Easter Rising of 1916 and Bloody Sunday of 1920 prior to Irelandâ€™s independence. Now open to the public, the castle complex features multiple museums, art galleries, the castle gardens, and a library. On occasion, traditional Irish music concerts are performed at the Chapel Royal. Visitors can even select to join a guided tour which grants access to parts of the complex such as the medieval excavation site and the State Apartments. During my experience at the Dublin Castle, my group was already accompanied by a knowledgeable tour guide from our tour company. Standing in the middle of the castle yard as the buildings seem to form a wall around you will feel breathtaking. The craftsmanship woven into the construction of this breathtaking landmark will be seen immediately upon arrival. Students, history buffs, and world travelers alike will appreciate the offerings at the Dublin Castle.
Haâ€™Penny Bridge (officially the Liffey Bridge)
This 1816 bridge continues to be a mainstay in the daily lives of Dubliners. About 30,000 pedestrians will pass over the Haâ€™Penny Bridge each day! Spanning the Liffey River, the name of this bridge comes from a time where the passage was granted to anyone willing to pay a haâ€™penny toll: half of a penny, which was the same cost as a ferry ride. This was the first pedestrian bridge connecting the two sides of the river in the center of Dublin and remained the only pedestrian bridge until 1999. The bridge joins Liffey & Henry Street shopping on the north to Temple Bar, the cityâ€™s rich cultural quarter on the south bank. One feature the bridge is famous for are the love locks that tourists feel inclined to leave behind while traveling with their special someone. Itâ€™s hard to blame them considering how spectacular and romantic the views are from here!
Saint Patrickâ€™s Cathedral
Interior of St. Patrickâ€™s Cathedral in Dublin
Being the largest cathedral in all of Ireland, Saint Patrickâ€™s Cathedral is a landmark that is still utilized and maintained to this day. This 800-year-old church will fully immerse any visitor in the rich Catholic-based culture rooted in Ireland. The Cathedral even has live daily performances from their world-famous choir during their school year. Guided tours are offered throughout the day for a more personalized experience or for those who would rather explore on their own, a free informational app for mobile devices can be downloaded. Many notable sights are within the Cathedral, including the tomb of Jonathan Swift, the famed Irish author of Gulliverâ€™s Travels. Throughout the Cathedral, other memorials and plaques can be found, reminding visitors as to how historical the site truly is. As the Cathedral is one of Dublinâ€™s last remaining medieval buildings, visiting this site for a full Dublin city experience is necessary! Saint Patrickâ€™s Cathedral is located on the edge of Dublin but is easily accessible by public busing. Christ Church Cathedral, the official cathedral of Dublin, is also nearby and within minutes of the popular Temple Bar district as well.
Old Library, Trinity College, in Dublin
Trinity College is considered the most prestigious university in all of Ireland. Established over 400 years ago, this institution is also massively respected throughout Europe as well. Trinity College has produced notable graduates such as Oscar Wilde, famed Irish poet, and Erwin SchrĂ¶dinger, Nobel-Prize winning physicist. The grounds of the college, located in the center of Irelandâ€™s capital city, are home to the famous Library of Trinity College. This library serves as a legal deposit for both Ireland and Britain, meaning that all copywritten works from those countries must have a copy placed here. As a result, this library contains over 6 million publications, including the world-famous medieval manuscript of the Book of Kells. Dated all the way to the 9th
century, the Book of Kells is considered one of Irelandâ€™s greatest treasures. While visiting the grounds of Trinity College, most tourists are eager to include the Book of Kells exhibition in their visit. During this exhibition, visitors are also granted access to the Long Room, a part of Trinityâ€™s historic Old Library that holds the oldest books in their collection. The sight of the Long Room is breathtaking as the shelves of preserved books seem to stretch on for countless feet.
Take Yourself to Dublin
Exterior of pub in the center of Dublin, Ireland
The Republic of Ireland shines a light on the world through its unique history and culture that has been preserved over centuries. Visiting Dublin, the capital city, is a must when visiting â€śemerald isleâ€ť as it is home to various national popular attractions, including the four honorably mentioned locations above. Not only does Dublin feature historical aspects, but it has also developed a modern city vibe which is attractive to people of all ages. With the views of the sparkling shore to the emerald countryside, Dublin, Ireland is an all-encompassing city to enjoy.