Discover Dublin the vibrant capital of Ireland
Founded by the Vikings over a thousand years ago, but with evidence of written records in the second century. The famous song has it that "it's in 'Dublin's fair city where the girls are so pretty - " In truth, it's the city that has also become very attractive. Dublin has developed a reputation as the most lovely capital city in Europe. It has cast off its image as a shabby and old fashioned and has become a go-ahead modern city both joyful and affluent.
With around one-third of Ireland's population living around Dublin, it is a compact city nestled between Dublin Bay and the surrounding hills. The River Liffey cuts Dublin in two. On the north side is O'Connell Street, one of the grandest in Europe with the beautiful 18th-century architecture.
To the south is the city's cultural side with its Cathedrals (two), Castle, and elegant Georgian buildings. Spend a couple of days or more, and discover Ireland’s capital with a private guide.
The Fair City of Dublin
A brief history of Dublin
The Dublin Bay area's human occupation stretches back to prehistoric times, with the earliest written records referring to the site in AD140. Officially Dublin considers 988 as the year it was founded and declared 1988 its official millennium. The Vikings established a settlement here on the south bank of the Liffey in 841. They initiated Dublin's involvement in the slave trade in the 9th and 10th centuries. Their victims, who included men, women, and children, were captured or kidnapped from England, Wales, Normandy, and even further afield.
Despite several attacks by the native Irish, Dublin remained in Viking hands until the Norman invasion in 1169, led by the Earl of Pembroke. Known as Strongbow, he declared himself King of Leinster. The Viking king returned with an army, intent on recapturing Dublin. Strongbow's forces successfully defeated the Vikings and dealt with a power of native Irish under High King O'Connor. The latter was also determined to capture Dublin. Strongbow's forces were again victorious. Meanwhile, the Anglo-Norman King Henry II, nervous about Strongbow's increasing hold on power, launched a large invasion in 1171 and declared himself Lord of Ireland.
Very early in the 13th century, King John ordered Dublin Castle's building to defend the city and ordered construction of a city wall . The town prospered, and by the end of the century, the population had grown to some 8,000. An attempt to capture the city by King Robert I of Scotland in 1317 was successfully defeated. The town fared less well just over 30 years later when the Black Death struck Dublin, with thousands dying over the following ten years.
Tudor King of Ireland
An attempt by the Earl of Kildare in the 1530s to rebel against the English crown resulted in the Tudor king, Henry VIII, being declared King of Ireland in 1542. Ultimately, this proved an advantage to Dublin, which became an administrative centre for Ireland. In 1592 Queen Elizabeth I was keen to convert Dublin to Protestantism by the establishment of Trinity College. She decreed that it should be a solely Protestant university and that the Catholic St Patricks and Christchurch cathedrals should become Protestant.
Trade with England
By 1640 the city's population had reached 21,000. Again, it suffered the ravages of the plague, which wiped out almost half its citizens. Fortunately, the city managed to recover and, through its trade with England in wool and linen, was again prosperous. By 1700 Dublin's population had grown to 50,000. It became the second-largest city in the British Empire and the fifth-largest city in Europe for a short time.
Much of the city's most notable architecture and buildings date from this period, and in 1759 the Guinness brewery was founded. It would grow to become the largest brewery in the world.
War, decline and famine
The 19th and early 20th centuries saw a decline in Dublin's fortunes, both economic and political. With no natural resources for manufacturing, the industrial revolution provided Ireland with few opportunities. The Irish War of Independence (1919-1921) brought about the creation of the Irish Free State and Ireland's partition in 1922. The Irish Free State had dominion status (meaning a self-governing colony of the British Empire) with Northern Ireland opting out of the treaty to remain part of the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, the treaty's result was more conflict, this time in the form of a Civil War with those Pro-Anglo-Irish-Treaty (Provisional Government) and those (Irish Republican Army) anti-treaty wanting complete detachment from the British Empire. The Provisional Government defeated the IRA, but, eventually, the Irish Government adopted a new constitution in 1937 and became the Republic of Ireland.
Confident and vibrant
Since 1977 Dublin has experienced a significant economic revival, has virtually no unemployment, and is once more a confident and vibrant city.
It's important to plan your time carefully with so much to see, and our Travel Designers and guides are on hand to help you.
Trinity College and the Book of Kells
The College was founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I 'to civilise Ireland with both learning and the Protestant religion and reform these rude people's barbarism.' - the extremely well educated Queen Elizabeth, although tact was perhaps something of a weakness.Today, in more enlightened times, Trinity welcomes all religions and genders. The Book of Kells at Trinity College described as the most beautiful book in the world. The 680 pages of Latin script and painting are fantastic with the monks who copied out and illustrated the four Gospels at the Monastery of Kells clearly very highly skilled.
The National Museum or Ireland
The National Museum of Ireland is another 'must-see' location. Displays of Ireland's fascinating past include treasured artefacts from prehistoric times, the Viking era, Christian crosses, the Broighter Hoard, the Treasury's biggest collection of gold objects, and much more besides.
St Patricks Cathedral
St Patricks Cathedral, Ireland's largest Cathedral (300ft long), was founded here in 1190 and was where St Patrick baptised converts to Christianity. It also contains the preacher's pulpit, Jonathan Swift, whose tomb is in the south aisle.
Dublin Castle is one of the most important buildings in Irish history. During your visit to the Castle, you will be walking in the footsteps of some of the world's great and good including Benjamin franklin (1771), four state visits by Queen Victoria (between 1849 – 1900), John F Kennedy (1963), and Queen Elizabeth II (2011)to name but a few.
Christchurch Cathedral, founded in 1038, stands out among the buildings on the south bank of the Liffey and is a fine example of Gothic architecture. In a glass case, an unusual exhibit is a cat and mouse around 120 years old. The cat was chasing the mouse through the organ's pipes, where both became stuck with the mouse just inches from the cat's paws.
A tour of Kilmainham Gaol is an experience not to be missed. Opened in 1796, it is a national monument. This cold place with its dark corridors and four tiny cold cells was thought to be a model prison. Those held here included sheep stealers, debtors, murders, and prostitutes. Famine victims also ended up here having committed petty crimes to be given regular meals of thin prison gruel. It's an experience that sets you thinking and sheds light on the historical conditions and times that Ireland endured.
Touring and accommodation
Our Tour Designers will suggest a private guided tour of Dublin based on your interests and preferred pace of travel and time available. We have tour guides with specialist knowledge and those with the personality to work well with families – be enlightened and entertained on a private guided tour of Ireland.
Dublin is blessed with a fair number of beautiful hotels with friendly, welcoming staff. The Westbury Dublin is probably in the most desirable location in the centre of all the action and short stroll to all attractions. The Westin Dublin Hotel is also central and close to the River Liffey. Enjoy the elegance of the stunning Merrion Hotel in the historic Georgian quarter of the city. The Shelbourne Hotel is another favourite for International visitors and should be considered.
The Friendliest City in Europe
- Tailored Private Tours
- World Class Hotels
- Visit Trinity College
- See the Book-of-Kells
- St Patricks Cathedral
- Dublin Castle
Help us make your trip exceptional
Our UK and EU office based staff will listen to what you want to see and experience.
Whether you are a honeymoon couple, a family or a corporate incentive group, our team’s collective resources will be brought together to build the experience that’s right for you.
We will require your arrival and departure dates, details of your personal preferences and places that you would like to visit as well as the events you would like to experience.
We will then prepare a draft itinerary and send it to you by email for your approval. Once agreed, we will send you a Booking Confirmation with Personalised Itinerary and Information Pack via email.