A Brief History of Dublin, Ireland
The first documented history of Dublin begins with the Viking raids in the 8th and 9th century. These led to the establishment of a settlement on the southside of the mouth of the Liffey, named Dubh Linn (Black Pool) after the lake where the Danes first moored their boats.
Despite stone fortifications, Dublin town was sacked many times over the next two centuries but always recovered. By the 11th Century, Dublin prospered, mainly due to close trading links with the English towns of Chester and Bristol and soon became the most important town in Ireland with a population of about 4,000.
Dublin in the Middle Ages
1169 marked the beginning of 700 years of Norman rule. The King of Leinster, Mac Murrough, enlisted the help of Strongbow, the Earl of Pembroke, to conquer Dublin. After Mac Murrough’s death, Strongbow declared himself King of Leinster, defeating both the Vikings and the High King of Ireland to win control of the city. However, the king of England, afraid Strongbow might become too powerful, pronounced himself Lord of Ireland and gave Dublin to the merchants of Bristol.
Dublin was devastated by fire in 1190 and a stone fortress built sometime in the 13th century. The first mayor was appointed in 1220. Following this, the city grew fast and had a population of 8,000 by the end of the 13th century, prospering as a trade centre, despite an attack by the Scots in 1317.
From the 14th to 18th centuries, Dublin was incorporated into the English Crown as The Pale and, for a time, became the second city of the British Empire. In 1537, a revolt occurred when the Lord Deputy of Ireland was executed in London. His son renounced English sovereignty and set about gathering an army to attack Dublin. However, he was defeated and subsequently executed.
Dublin continued to prosper in the 16th Century and boasts one of the oldest universities in the British isles, Trinity College, which was founded by Queen Elizabeth I. The city had a population of 20,000 in 1640 before plague in 1650 wiped out almost half of the inhabitants. But the city prospered again soon after as a result of the wool and linen trade with England, reaching a population of 60,000 in 1700.
The History of Modern Dublin
The city grew even more rapidly during the 18th century with many famous districts and buildings added, such as Merrion Square, Parliament House and the Royal Exchange, later to become City Hall. The beginnings of the City Corporation was created in 1757 with a body of men formed to widen, pave, light and clean the streets. Ireland's famous Guinness stout was first brewed in 1759 and a stagecoach service to other towns began. The Grand Canal was built in 1779 and a police force established in 1786. Towards the end of the century O’Connell Bridge and Kilmainham Gaol had been built and by 1800 the population had swollen to 180,000. However, this overpopulation brought with it great poverty and disease
The 19th Century brought the construction of the Gasworks and introduction of street lighting, but overall Dublin suffered a steep political and economical decline with the seat of government moving to Westminster in 1800 under the Act Of Union.
Things were to change dramatically in the 20th Century with the 1916 Easter Rising, the War For Independence and the subsequent Civil War which eventually led to the establishment of the Republic of Ireland.
As the seat of English administration, Dublin was the setting for many key events during the Irish struggle for independence and you will find a number of historic buildings, such as the General Post Office on O'Connell Street, Dublin Castle and Kilmainham Gaol, where history comes alive.
Since the mid-1990s, an economic boom christened the ‘Celtic Tiger’ brought massive expansion and development to the city, including the creation of Dublin’s newest landmark, the Spire monument on O'Connel Street. Fuelled by the boom years, Dublin has grown to be the single largest conurbation in Ireland. Some 1.2m people live in the greater Dublin area, that equals 28% of the country's total population of 4.2m.
The boom brought many new ethnic groups into the city and created a more international feel, particularly in the north inner city. Ireland has fallen on harder times in recent months, but Dublin is, if anything, more vibrant than ever.