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Dublin, Ireland - interesting facts
What's in a name?
Dublin is my hometown and the home town of most of my ancestors too. I thought I would share some interesting facts about Dublin with you.
Firstly the name Dublin derives from the name "Dubh Linn" which literally means Black Pool. In the Gaelic language, the 'bh' was written as a 'b' with a dot over it, but the Normans later omitted this dot and the name became Dublin. In modern Gaelic, Dublin is 'Baile Atha Cliath', which literally means "The Town of the Ford of the Reed Hurdles". Dublin is essentially a Viking town. The Vikings first settled here in 842 AD.
A River runs through it
Dublin is bisected by the River Liffey which divides the city into the Northside and the Southside. This has given rise to much rivallery between those who come from each side and has sprouted many Northside/Southside jokes. e.g.
Q. What do you call a Northsider in a suit?
A. The Defendant
The River Liffey is also know as "Anna Liffey". In tribute to this, the government erected a fountain of a woman sitting in a river with water flowing over her in Dublin's main street (O'Connell Street) some years back (it has since been removed). Dubliner's, always quick witted, quickly dubbed her "the whore in the sewer".
[Other sculptures around Dublin have been similarly named - two older ladies sitting with shopping bags on a bench = "the hags with the bags"; a sculpture of Molly Malone with her cart of cockles and muscles = "the tart with the cart"; etc Dubliners are known for their wit and sarcasm.]
The River Liffey was, for many years, a source of pungent smell in the city. It was a murky dull brown color. As we approached the millennium a countdown clock was placed underwater in the Liffey to count us down to the year 2000. This had to be abandoned due to the build up of muck and dirt under the water on the clock such that it became laughably unreadable!
I'm glad to say the river has since been remarkably cleaned up and now is a great resource in the city.
An oasis of calm
Dublin in home to the Phoenix Park - the largest walled urban park in Europe. The park is 1,760 acres and is approx 2 miles west of the city centre. This park is a wonderful amenity for the people of Dublin and all the visitors to this great city.
It houses Dublin Zoo, Aras an Uachtarain (the home of the President of Ireland), and her neighbour, the American Ambassador. Guided Tours are available of Aras an Uachtarain (the American Ambassador doesn't offer this facility!). Dublin Zoo was home to the lion (named Cairbre) who famously roars at the start of every MGM movie. Cairbre was born in 1927.
The park is home to a lareg herd of Fallow Deer who have roamed free here since the seventeenth century.
Another landmark in the park is the Papal Cross. This cross was erected for the visit of Pope John Paull II in September 1979. Over one million people attended an open air mass in the park.
Drimnagh Castle is the only castle in Ireland to retain its flooded moat. It is a Norman castle and was continually inhabited until 1954 (the last inhabitants being the Hatch family). By the mid 1980s the castle has become a ruin and a local committee with government backing began a restoration of the castle in 1986.
My husband, Godfrey Donohue, was heavily involved with this restoration and for many years was the site foreman for the work. The 15th century oak roof was rebuilt, a minstrels' gallery was constructed, new stone door frames and windows were created and the formal 17th century garden was re-created.
As part of the restoration, several effigies were carved and put into the Great Hall. These represented many of the craftsmen and women involved in the restoration work. As my husband was the foreman they carved him for posterity as the jester!
The Castle has a resident ghost, the Lady Elenora, who has been heard on several occasions through the Castle.
The castle has been used for many movies and TV programmes including "The Abduction Club", "Ella Enchanted" and "The Tudors".
The Castle offers tours through the year.
On Easter Monday (April 24th) in 1916, a group of Irish nationalists decided to rise up against the rule of Great Britain in Ireland in a siege known as "The Easter Rising".
At around noon, 2000 men led by Padraig Pearse seized control of the General Post Office (GPO) on Dublin's main street (O'Connell Street) and proclaimed Ireland as a Republic. Other buildings were also occupied including Boland's Mills (where my grandfather fought alongside Eamon deValera). Bitter street fighting ensued but on April 29th the Irish nationalist fighters surrendered. Fifteen of the leaders were executed by the British. Four others, including the American-born Eamon de Valera, were sentenced to death but had their sentences commuted to life imprisonment (but de Valera was granted amnesty a year later!) Eamon de Valera was later to become President of Ireland.
The rising was the first in a series of events that ended with the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1921. About 440 British troops died and approximately 75 Irish.
There are still scars on Dublin's main thoroughfare O'Connell Street (bullet holes on the statues and on the facade of the General Post Office) from the Easter Rising.
Interesting note about O'Connell Street - the bridge at the end of O'Connell street (which crossess the River Liffey) is the only bridge in Europe that is wider than it is long.
See webcam views of O'Connell Street and the bridge across the Liffey here:
Guinness is good for you!
Dublin is home to the might pint of Guinness. the famous brewery, founded in 1759, is in the heart of Dublin. Sir Arthur Guinness leased the premises for 45 pounds sterling a year, on a 9000 year lease! An absolute bargain today!
2009 is the 250 year anniversary of Guinness. At its peak, more than 4,000 people were directly employed at the Guinness brewery at St. James’s Gate in Dublin. By 1914, output had reached almost three million barrels annually.
It is well known folklore that the absolute best pint of Guinness can only be had at the brewery itself (as it doesn't travel well!). You can visit the Guinness Storehouse and at the end of the tour get a free pint - surely the best pint of Guinness in the world then!
In the early years, Guinness was marketed as being 'good for you'. So much so, that my father was given a Guinness a day at the age of 3 years old because he had rheumatic fever and my grandmother thought it would build up his strength!
Also, check out this other hub.....
Check out my new hub about The Gathering 2013 - Ireland is waiting for your visit!