Dublin City Centre
The centre of Dublin has a very organic feel to it, with its winding, narrow streets and low buildings. There is only one grand avenue in the centre and that is O'Connell Street. The rest of the streets is much more human in scale. Few buildings in the city centre are more than four stories high and an appealing mix of 18th century Georgian and 19th century Victorian styles dominates most streets in the centre. Life in Dublin's city centre is charming, slightly chaotic and fairly laid back.
Dublin has a hub and spokes structure, with the centre as the hub and outlying areas as the spokes. Because of the relatively small size of Dublin, most fresh impulses and ideas start in the centre to reach the biggest possible audience. New shops, bars and nightclubs invariably operate from a city centre location and there are still enough up and coming areas waiting to be discovered, which keeps rents low for innovative start-ups. Because all the new places are in the centre, everybody comes here from the 'burbs and the cycle repeats itself.
Another sign of the centre's role as the hub is the mix of people, which is much more diverse and colourful in the centre than in most of the suburbs and surrounding areas. Afro-Caribbean shopkeepers mingle with ancient Dublin market traders on Moore Street while art students with retro 1980's hairdos rub shoulders with conservative South County Dublin shoppers on College Green, barely a five minute walk away. With just over a million people living in the greater Dublin area, the city centre is the most convenient meeting place for everybody.
City Centre Sights
Sights located within Dublin's city centre include Trinity College, Dublin Castle, Dublinia, the Hugh Lane Gallery, the National Museum Of Ireland - Archaeology, the Science Gallery as well as the city's two most picturesque parks, St. Stephen's Green and Merrion Square, the main shopping mile Grafton Street and the cultural and nightlife hot spot Temple Bar. Dublin's most famous churches, St. Patrick's Cathedral and Christchurch Cathedral, are both located within a five minutes' walk of each other in the city centre. You could easily visit all the main sites in the city centre within a day without breaking into a sweat.
If you want to see some of the oldest parts of Dublin, hop on a 123 Bus anywhere on Dame Street between Trinity and Dublin Castle and get off at Thomas Street. This area to the West of St. Patrick's Cathedral and up to Meath Street and Thomas Street is the ancient heart of the city. The area is pretty run down and neglected, but the warren of streets and the tiny cottages give you a good idea of the cramped living conditions that drove Dubliners out to the comparatively clean and positively spacious suburbs in the 19th century. There are pockets of new life in the ancient city centre, particularly on Francis Street with its art galleries and the Tivoli theatre. The Vicar Street music venue is loacated at the top of Thomas Street and there are new bars and shops opening up in what is still a predominantly poor area. Check out the shops and indoor market on Meath Street for a glimpse into Dublin inner city life away from the bright lights of Grafton Street.
The newest parts of the city centre are located East of Trinity College's campus, around Grand Canal Dock on the South Bank of the River Liffey and on North Wall Quay on the Liffey's North Bank. Once a deserted labyrinth of warehouses, the area will house Dublin's new conference centre, a major new theatre and some of the city's most striking high rise buildings. There is still a lot of construction work going on, but restaurants and bars have already made inroads into the area, particularly around Grand Canal Dock.
Getting Around Dublin City Centre
The 123 bus is one of the most useful routes in the city centre. It connects O'Connell Street with Thomas Street and beyond, taking in Trinity, Grafton Street, Temple Bar and Dublin Castle inbetween. If you want to venture down Wexford Street and Camden Street for some nightlife or restaurants, you can hop on a 16 or 16A bus anywhere between O'Connell Street and Dame Street. The Red Luas is handy for exploring the Northside from East to West, from the shopping on Henry Street to the pubs around Smithfields and the Four Courts. The Green Luas on the Southside leaves the city centre too soon to be of much use.