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Dublin

Heart of the mystical isle

guinnessThe Irish have a reputation for enjoying their drink, and Dublin holds the title of the most money spent per capita on alcohol in Europe. Not just that, but they are proud of it too. The Irish economy is growing fast, and Dublin is the hub. With Ireland only having four million people in it, Dublin is home to most of them with just over a million residents.

The scenery
The River Liffey is chocka block with shopping trolleys, and is not the cleanest thing around. But, a river nonetheless. The same river that seems to snatch people in grimly old Irish novels causing certain death by instilling dampness in their lungs, however once outside of the city, the countryside has a rustic charm with its rolling green fields, hedgerows and rugged coastline.

Nightlife
The best nightlife in Dublin is in the city centre, and inner suburbs. Once you get further out, there are rows of semi-detached houses and betting shops, called “Turf Accountants”. Guinness is the local brew, and is famous world-wide, as are typical Irish Paddies in their green tights. The pubs are where all the action is, which we knew already! Irish live and breathe their pubs and there are over 1000 in Dublin. A night out in Dublin is normally a good laugh, but can get dodgy, and as always when there are copious amounts of alcohol involved, fights and unconscious bodies on the footpath are not uncommon.

Having not been there for a few years, the Temple Bar was renowned for it's hens and stags do’s, so it's mostly avoided by locals who would prefer to not get run over by a gangs of stampeding women in tiaras or bunny ears, or inebriated men, all intent on making the most of their un-married status.

St Patties
St Patrick’s day here is a blast, and knowing the reputation of the Irish and their drink, it starts and ends messily. If you can understand what they are saying, the Irish are great to hang and party with. They tend to talk fast when they get going. Some words to learn are ‘feckin’, ‘bleedin’ and ‘it’ll be grand’. There are parades, and everyone has a jolly ol’ time. There is also the Alternative Miss Ireland competition, which is a charity fundraiser, a guaranteed fun night out.

History
Dublin is a thousand years old, and the history is evident all around with buildings, museums and churches. The arguments between the English and some Irish continues, with the IRA a formidable force to be reckoned with. There are still occasional bombings and people do sometimes ‘just disappear’.

The best place for everyday eating is in pubs. Toasted sammies, vege soup or nice steaks are always available at a reasonable price. Plus a glass of Guinness to wash it down with, of course. If you’re brave, you can try a dish of Irish black pudding – a disgusting sounding mix (but apparently delicious, yeah right) of oatmeal, miscellaneous pieces of pig and pig’s blood.

Things to do
The twin arms of Dunlaoghire pier are interesting on a windy day, as is the narrow cliff path around Howth Head. If its sunny, the Dublin Mountains are a worthy trek. The Hellfire Club, a ruined hunting lodge where the devil apparently makes a regular appearance, is a small hike. The way down the hill is better, with two Irish pubs to refresh yourself in. Johnnie Fox’s pub in Glencullen is a famous tourist pub, and worth a stop off just for fun. If you prefer locals, try any other pub, of which the choice is endless. All pubs are now smoke-free. If you’re after live Irish music, there is plenty of it here. There is a lot of it put on just for tourists, but this doesn’t make it really any much worse, but the company you keep will be less Irish. The Temple Bar has 4pm shows, but if you want a more realistic lot, try the Cobblestone. If you want other kinds of live music, there are plenty of venues and options. Being Irelands largest city means that if it comes to Ireland, it comes here.

For a shocking tourist attraction, go and visit the head of Saint Oliver Plunkett. Found in Drogheda, 40 minutes north on the M1, the head has been preserved by being dipped in creosote and is in a glass case. This man was a Catholic archbishop who was murdered by the English in 1681. His body is buried in England, but his head remains in St Peters church. Charming!

Other attractions include Dublin Castle, Custom House Key, the Ha’penny Bridge or shopping for the stylish, arcane, and the collectable. Or exploring Dublin’s musical heritage and the old haunts of Boyzone, U2, the Corrs, Bob Geldof and Sinead O’Connor.

A favourite for visitors is a tour through the seven floors of the Guinness brewery to see the past, present and future of what many consider the world's greatest beer and then relax with a complimentary pint of Guinness and enjoy the 360degree views over Dublin. For tickets, book at the Guinness website.

Getting around
Parking is expensive and the best sightseeing is to be done on foot or from an open-top bus. There is a new light rail system too, the Luas, which is still finding its feet, having just opened in 2005. There are still many crashes, because people aren’t used to the Luas yet. It is not too hard to find your way around, it is fairly well sign posted though some of the names might trip you up.

Overall
Dublin is a fun place to visit, and it would be hard to not have a good time and I promise it won’t always rain.

Getting there
Dublin is very accessible with flights from Europe and the Americas with regular ferry services from the UK.

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