With emphasis on Dublin’s glorious past, this walk covers the principal historic sites just south of the river’s expansive O’Connell Bridge.
|Start:||College Green — Bank of Ireland building|
|Finish:||St. Stephen’s Green|
|Time:||Allow at least three hours, not including visits inside buildings or guided tours.|
Bank of Ireland, College Green
The prestigious offices of Ireland’s national bank began life as the first purpose-built parliament house in Europe. Completed in 1739 it served as Ireland’s Parliament until the Act of Union in 1801. Today, attendants lead tours that point out the coffered ceiling and oak paneling.
Across the street is one of Dublin’s best known landmarks:
Founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth. Among many famous students to attend the college were playwrights Oliver Goldsmith and Samuel Beckett. Trinity’s lawns and cobbled quads provide a pleasant haven in the hearth of the city. The major attractions are the Old Library and the Book of Kells, housed in the Treasury. Exit from the front of the Trinity complex and walk from College Green to Dame St and Continue west passing:
The Olympia Theatre
Dating back to the 1800s, this Victorian music hall-style theatre has a capacity of 1,300. It presents an eclectic schedule of variety shows, musicals, operettas, concerts, ballet, comedy, and drama. As a variation, for the late-night crowd, live bands are often featured after regular programs.
Across the Street is Dublin’s:
Erected between 1769 and 1779, and formerly the Royal Exchange. It is a square building in Corinthian style, with three fronts of Portland stone. Since 1852, however it has been the centre of the municipal government. The interior is designed as a circle within a square, with fluted columns supporting a dome shaped roof over the central hall. The building contains many items
of interest, including 102 royal charters and the mace and sword of the city.
Adjacent to City Hall is:
Built between 1208 and 1220, this complex represents some of the oldest surviving architecture in the city. Highlights include the 13th-century record tower, the largest visible fragment of the original Norman castle and the State Apartments, once the residence of viceroys and now the focal point for government ceremonial functions, including the inauguration of Ireland’s presidents.
At this point Dame St takes on the name Lord Edward St, and leads to:
Christ Church Cathedral
Standing on high ground in the oldest part of the city, this cathedral is one of Dublin’s finest historic buildings. It dates back to 1038 when Sitric, the then Danish king of Dublin, built the first wood here. In 1171 the original simple foundation was extended into a cruciform and rebuilt in stone by Strongbow, although the present structure dates mainly from 1871 to 1878 when a huge restoration was undertaken. Only the transepts, the crypt, and a few other portions date from the medieval times. Highlights of the interior include magnificent stonework and graceful pointed arches, with delicately chiselled supporting columns. Strongbow himself is among the historic figures buried in the church. See Churches Section for details. Across the Street in the former Synod Hall you can visit:
The Dublinia exhibition covers the formative period of Dublin’s history from the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in 1170 to the closure of the monasteries in the 1540s.There are many exhibits here which include videos, models and reconstructions. The ground floor houses a large scale model of Dublin around 1500, a display of artefacts from Wood Quay, and reconstructions. See Museums section for details. Turn onto Winetavern St towards the River Liffey in front on Dublinia and you will come to:
Although today you will see a modern office complex, the home of the Dublin City Council Civic Offices, this was the site of the original Viking city in Dublin. During recent excavations, before the offices were built, archaeological digs revealed the layout, houses, walls, and quay of Dublin as they existed in the 9th and 11th centuries. Return back up Winetavern St, turn right onto High St. On the right are two St. Audeon’s churches, one Protestant and one Catholic both sitting beside a portion of the old city walls. Next is the:
Dates from the 13th century when it was an important trade and open market site on the west end of the old city. Nothing remains of the original cornmarket except the name. As a slight detour, turn right and walk down Bridge St towards the river. At the lower end of Bridge St you will see:
The Brazen Head
This dates back to 1198 and is reputed to be the city’s oldest pub. Stroll back up Bridge St (after an optional drink) to the cornmarket. A detour across the main thoroughfare will bring you to:
This is known as Dublin’s “antiques row” because of its abundance of fine antique shops. Return to High St, walk along the opposite side of the street in an east direction. Take the cutoff for Back lane and here is:
Erected in 1706, one of the few remaining Queen Anne buildings in the city and Dublin’s oldest surviving guildhall. This little lane ends at Patrick St; take a right and follow Patrick St south to:
St. Patrick’s Cathedral
Ireland’s largest church was founded beside a sacred well where St. Patrick is said to have baptised converts around 450A.D. A stone slab bearing a Celtic cross and covering the well was un-earthed at the turn of the 20th century. It is now preserved in the west end of the cathedral’s nave. The original building was just a wooden chapel and remained so until 1192 when Archbishop John Comyn rebuilt the cathedral in stone. Much of the present building dates back to work completed between 1254 and 1270. See Churches section for details. From Patrick Street, turn left onto Patrick’s Close and on the left is:
Founded in 1701 and the oldest public library in Ireland with books (more than 25,000) on theology, medicine, ancient history, law, science, maps, Hebrew, Syrian, Greek, Latin, and French literature dating back to 1472. See Library section for more details. This street leads to Kevin St where you will see the:
Kevin St Garda Station (Police)
Formerly a medieval archbishop’s palace. Take a left and walk up Bridge St and take another right onto Golden Lane, so named in medieval times because goldsmiths were practiced here, which becomes Stephen’s St. On Lower Stephens St, take a left onto South William St. On the right is:
Dublin Civic Museum
This small museum, set in the former City Assembly House, depicts Dublin from Viking times to the 21st Century through paintings, photographs, old newspaper cuttings and an assortment of objects including from a 40 metre (134ft) high pillar with a statue of Nelson on top.
See Museum section for details. Across the street is:
Powerscourt Town House Centre
The townhouse of a famous Georgian family. Today the building houses one of the cities nicest shopping centres. In the 1960′s major restoration turned it into a centre of specialist galleries, antique shops, jewellery stalls, cafés and other shop units. The centre can also be reached from Grafton Street down the narrow Johnson Court Alley. See Historic Buildings section for details.
On the opposite side of the street is:
St. Teresa’s Church
Opened in 1810, this church is famed for its stained-glass windows. From St. Teresa’s side entrance, there is a side alley that
leads directly onto Grafton St, Dublin’s principal shopping street, which you should turn left onto and walk up to St. Stephen’s Green.
St. Stephen’s Green
St. Stephen’s Green was enclosed in 1664. The 9 hectare(22 acre) park was laid out in its present form in 1880. Landscaped with flowerbeds, trees, a fountain and a lake, the green is dotted with memorials to eminent Dubliners. The 1887 bandstand is still the focal point for free daytime concerts in summer. See Parks section for details.