Dublin Area Guide
Dublin has a very compact centre while the majority of the city has preserved a distinctive village feel that is unusual for a European city its size. Take a 10 minute bus ride from O'Connell Street or College Green and you find yourself travelling through a patchwork quilt of villages and towns, each with their own individual character. From posh, rugby playing Ballsbridge to the echoes of former Victorian glory in the seaside resort of Bray, Dublin offers a fascinating mix of local styles and atmospheres.
Dublin Area History
The strong sense of individuality among Dublin's areas dates back centuries, when many of these former villages and towns competed with Dublin on economic grounds. Rathmines, only 10 minutes South from St. Stephen's Green, was a wealthy town in the 19th century. You can still see the imposing bourgeois glamour of the former town's triumvirate of city hall, church and fire station. Further South in County Dublin, Dalkey was Dublin's principal port throughout the middle ages and Dun Laoghaire started as a major Victorian seaside resort that Dubliners would visit for a day trip by train. Malahide to the North of the centre prospered thanks to Malahide Castle and its associated farmlands as well as an important harbour.
As Dublin grew as a city, new roads and buildings just filled the gaps between the different villages and towns. The main expansion phases of the city took place in the 1920's, the 1950's and the 1990's. Most Dubliners live in one-storey terraced or semi-detached houses, which mix easily with the town centres that were there long before the city arrived on their doorsteps. High rise buildings are only a very recent addition that came with the explosion in Dublin land prices during the real estate boom of the late 1990s. So far, high rises are mainly limited to the city centre and a few new satellite towns like Sandyford and Blanchardstown.
Shopping And Restaurants
Dublin's outer areas are fascinating not only for their architectural merit or history but because they are thriving communities with often unusual shops and good restaurants. Many a fashion trend or celebrated chef started here before moving to the city centre. Check out the Blackrock Market, a covered flea market in Blackrock village, for a taste of what fashions might hit the small boutiques off Grafton Street next. Or sample classic Irish seafood at the celebrated Caviston's delicatessen and restaurant in Glasthule, County Dublin. Some shops are quaintly old-fashioned and survive because Dubliners will travel miles to get to a particular place that has a good reputation.
Dublin Area Events
In recent years, some of Dublin's suburbs have launched regular local events that vie for attention with those in the city centre during the summer. Blackrock organises summer festivals in a park on the seafront, Rathmines has its music and arts festival and Dun Laoghaire hosts an annual festival of World culture which features artists from Africa, Asia and Latin America. Ballsbridge is home to the Royal Dublin Society showgrounds, the largest event space in the Dublin. You will find a wide range of events here from show jumping for horses to rock concerts and art fairs.
Getting Around The Dublin Area
The DART local railway connects the city centre with all major areas that border on the coastline, from Malahide in the North over Blackrock and Bray to Greystones in County Wicklow. You can catch the DART in the city centre from Connolly, Tara Street or Pearse Street stations. Once you move away from the coast, locals rely heavily on their cars to get around. Stillorgan and Rathmines are well connected to the city centre by bus. Other areas are less convenient to reach since most bus routes run North to South, connecting the centre with a particular suburb and there are few bus routes running between local areas.
Both Tallaght and Sandyford have a good Luas tram connection. Tallaght is at the end of the Red Luas line from Connolly. Sandyford has the Green Luas tram line which connects it with St. Stephen's Green in the city centre. But Sandyford's office and retail park is growing faster than the Luas tracks, so you may face a good walk from the Luas terminus to your destination.
Dublin By Area
Ballsbridge has been the urban retreat of choice for Dublin's wealthy citizens since the 19th century. With its posh airs and exclusive residences, Ballsbridge is the home to foreign embassies, several rugby clubs and the Royal Dublin Society with its annual horse show.
Georgian houses, art galleries and a 19th century park by the sea give the coastal suburb of Blackrock a bohemian feel. A swift Dart train connection with the city centre makes Blackrock a popular residential area with families looking for some fresh sea air.
Dublin's fastest growing suburb combines Dublin's biggest shopping centre with an old country town nestling on the North bank of the Royal Canal. In the spirit of contemporary urban living, the Blanchardstown Centre mall combines commerce and public amenities doubling up as the town centre.
A Victorian seaside town with a long pebble beach, Bray is a firm favourite with day-trippers from Dublin. The headland at the Southern end of town, Bray Head, offers spectacular views and good walks along the coast.
For a city of a million inhabitants, Dublin has a very intimate and compact city centre. Narrow lanes, pedestrian zones and covered markets invite you to take a stroll and go exploring.
A string of pretty coastal towns and fishing harbours stretches from Dublin to the South. If you travel the coast from North to South the scenery changes from wind-blown sandy beaches to ragged cliffs and sheltered coves inviting you for a boat trip or a swim.
The picturesque coastal town of Malahide lies a short train trip to the North of Dublin. A quaint town centre, 12th century Malahide Castle and a large marina make Malahide a great destination for a day trip from Dublin.
Bohemian, cosmopolitan Rathmines lies just South of the Grand Canal. Minutes away from the city centre, Rathmines has an easygoing pace of life and the atmosphere of a town within the city.
Once an office park by the side of the motorway, Sandyford now has a Luas tram connection into the city centre, the Beacon shopping centre and Dublin's first museum for children.
A quiet suburb on Dublin's Southside, Stillorgan can boast to have Ireland's oldest shopping centre and offers a convenient location for nearby University College Dublin.
The sprawling commuter town of Tallaght is reinventing itself as a centre for the arts in the South West of Dublin. With the Luas tram line connecting Tallaght to the city centre, a flurry of building activity is giving the town a much needed facelift.
Wicklow, the county bordering on Dublin in the South, offers mountains, forests and kilometres of sandy beaches. If you would like to escape the city for a day, then Wicklow offers a number of destinations that can be easily reached from Dublin.