10 Historical SitesTo Visit In Dublin
The Custom House
The Custom House is an 18th century building in Dublin which houses the Department of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It is located along the River Liffey on Custom House Quay in Dublin City Centre.
The building was designed by James Gandon and opened for business on 7 November 1791 costing £200.000. The four facades of the building are decorated with coats-of-arms and ornamental sculptures (by Edward Smyth) representing Ireland's rivers. Another artist, Henry Banks, was responsible for the statue on the dome and other statues.
With its location along the river for the first 9 years after the build was completed it was used for the headquarters of commissioners of custom and excise. After Dublin expanding and Dublin Port moving down river, the building's original use became obsolete, and it was used as the headquarters of local government in Ireland.
During the War of Independence in 1921 the Irish Republican Army set The Custom House on fire. The fire lasted 5 days and destroyed James Gandons work. The originally centre dome collapsed and a large amount of historical records were destroyed in the fire.
After the Anglo-Irish Treaty, it was restored by the Irish Free State government. The results of this reconstruction can still be seen on the building's exterior today – the dome was rebuilt using Irish Ardbraccan limestone which is noticeably darker than the Portland stone used in the original construction.
Admission is free to visit The Custom House.
Christ Church Cathedral
Christ Church Cathedral was founded in 1028 and is one of Dublin’s oldest buildings to still stand.
While visiting Christ Church you can enjoy the walk around the medieval crypt where you will find the mummified remains of the Cat and Rat ( know by locals as Tom and Jerry) found trapped behind the organ and preserved by the very dry air of the cathedral. Also in the basement of the Cathedral is the home of the cathedral shop and café.
The Cathedral was a major pilgrimage site in the medieval period, with an important collection of relics ranging from a miraculous speaking cross to a piece from the crib of Jesus. Today, it is still possible to see one of these relics, the heart of Laurence O’Toole, patron saint of Dublin.
Christ Church is a beautiful Cathedral where a lot of Dublin people and visitors will head, to hear the bells ringing in each New Year. The cathedral's deployment of 19 bells, ranging in weight from a quarter of a ton to two and a quarter tons, represents a world record of numbers of bells available for full-circle ringing. The oldest bells still in use here date from 1738.
The Cathedral has a reputation as having one of Irelands finest choirs. This can be traced back to 1493 with the founding of the choir school. In 1742 the choir took part in the first ever performance of Handel’s Messiah
Christ church is open to the public with a small admissions fee. Times vary depending on the time of the year you would like to visit.
Dublin Castle originally built in 1204 by the orders of King John of England. The Vikings previously settled the castle ground when they came to Ireland. King John wanted the castle to have strong wall and deep ditches for the defence of the city of Dublin, this was also going to protect the Kings treasures.
The Castle was built with a Norman square courtyard, all sides of the castle had tall defensive wall with each corner being protected by a circular tower.
In 1684 the Castle was largely rebuild after a fire where it lost some of the old medieval Structure...
The Bedford Tower was built to replace the twin towered entrance to Dublin Castle this is where the castle would have been equipped with the portcullis and a drawbridge. It was from this area that the Crown Jewels was stolen in 1907 and have never been seen since. Over the gates you will see 2 statues one of Fortitude and one of Justice
The Bermingham Tower and the adjoining buildings at Dublin Castle served as the main cells and the dungeon block. In 1331 Sir William Bermingham was arrested and imprisoned here. Only the base of the Bermingham Tower has not been changed, the upper levels of the tower were rebuilt in 1777 after an explosion at the nearby armoury.
Today, this prestigious city centre site is host to state-of-the-art conference and dining facilities.
The State Apartments are among the most prestigious State rooms in the country and are open for guided tours.
Dublin City Hall
Dublin City Hall was built between 1769 and 1779 and is located on Dame Street not far from Dublin Castle. Once the site of the Royal Exchange, the building was bought by Dublin Corporation in the 1850s for use as a civic building. Today the building is used for meetings of Dublin City Council, with the bulk of the Council’s administrative staff now based in the Civic Offices on Wood Quay.
This fine neo-classical building was recently restored to its original 18th century splendour by Dublin City Council, and today houses a multimedia exhibition on the history of Dublin from the arrival of the Vikings to the present day.
A visit to the present day building reflects its importance to the people of Dublin and the struggle for Irish Independence in the last century. The Rotunda contains statues of notable Irish parliamentarians and nationalists, including Henry Grattan, Thomas Davis and Daniel O’Connell. You can see some of the city treasures while taking a tour around parts of City Hall including the Great Sword, the Lord Mayors chains.
City Hall also hosts public events, functions and temporary exhibitions.
Sunday & Bank Holidays: 11.00am-5.00pm
Last admission 1 hour before closing
Opening Hours subject to change*
Aras an Uachtarain
Aras an Uachtarain is located in the lovely Phoenix Park, Home to the President of Ireland.
Built in 1751, the house was designed and owned by the park ranger Nathaniel Clements who was also an amateur architect. In 1785 the house was subsequently acquired for £25.000 as an "occasional residence" for the Lords Lieutenant, (also known as the Viceroy), where he lived for most of the year from the 1820s onwards.
The house was left empty for some years when in 1938 when it became the official residence of the Irish president when the first President, Douglas Hyde took up residence there and it was renamed Áras an Uachtaráin (meaning house of the president in Irish).
The house has changed since it was first built in 1751. Decimus Burton gave the house some lovely formal gardens in the 1840s. For the state visit of Queen Victoria in 1849 they added the East Wing to the house. In 1911 King George V visited Ireland and a West Wing was added to the house.
While taking a walk along the main road in Phoenix Park as you pass the Presidents Home look up at the main window on the top floor at the centre and you will see a candle light flickering this is a symbol to welcome all the Irish People home.
Summer (Sat only) 10.15am-4pm
Winter (Sat only) 10.30am-3.30pm
Closed 24th-27th December
Guided Tours Meeting Point:
Phoenix Park Visitor Centre,
The Four Courts
The Four Courts is located along the River Liffey at Inns Quay. They were built between 1786 and 1896 and were Irelands main courts until a new court house was built near Phoenix Park in 2010. The Supreme Court, High Court and Central Criminal Court are all located here.
The building got the name four courts as it houses 4 different court houses of Chancery, Kings Bench, Exchequer and Common Pleas. At the hub is the Round Hall, 64ft in diameter, with inner and outer domes and a surround of Corinthian columns. It was once described as "both the physical and spiritual centre of the building". The entrance of the building is supported by 6 columns, High above the columns stands statues of Moses, Justice, Mercy, Authority and Wisdom.
In 1932 the Four Courts had a rebuild and remodel after being destroyed during the fighting of the Civil War in 1922. There were no way of knowing what the Four Courts looked like before the damage was caused as artefacts and images were lost. Some of the court and the decorative interior was never replaced as the Irish state did not have the money to finish it to the high standard it once was. The 2 side wings were rebuilt during this time and away from the River Liffey to accommodate for the narrowing of the pavement outside.
Visitors are allowed to enter the buildings although there are many restricted areas. Commonly seen are barristers in their traditional outfits discussing matters of the courts and also members of the Gardaí waiting to escort their accused to court.
The General Post Office (GPO)
Located on O Connell Street the general post office is head quarters of the postal service in Ireland. The building is one of Irelands most famous buildings as well as one of the last Georgian buildings to be built in the Dublin.
In 1814 the build was started for the GPO and took 3 years to finish but the GPO was not always located on O’Connell Street. It had its first home in a small building off Dame Street where the Central Bank is now. In 1818 the GPO opened on Sackville Street now known as O’Connell Street, The new post office cost £50.000 to build.
The main section was made with Wicklow granite and the portico, the roof structure over the entrance, of Portland stone. The statues on the roof, by sculptor John Smyth, are of Hibernia, a classical representation in female form of the island of Ireland, with Fidelity to one side and Mercury (the messenger of the gods) to the other.
During the Easter Rising in 1916 the GPO was used as the headquarters of the Irish leaders and was destroyed in the fighting. The GPO was rebuilt and reopened in 1929
The GPO is not just a post office it also has a museum and shows the history of the postal service and in the museum you will find a copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic.
The GPO is open from 8am til 8pm Monday to Saturday
The oldest university in Ireland, Trinity College Dublin is located south side of the River Liffey on College Green.
The college was founded in 1592 when a small group of Dublin citizens obtained a Charter from Queen Elizabeth to found a University. The City Corporation granted them the land and the dilapidated buildings of All Hallows monastery, which had fallen into disrepair and been abandoned.
Two years later, a few Fellows and students began to work in the new College, which then consisted of one small square and during the next fifty years, the community increased.
In the late seventeenth century, Ireland entered a period of great turmoil, which naturally disrupted the life of the burgeoning college and in 1689 all of the fellows were expelled and their students with them, and the college was converted into a barracks for James II's soldiers.
The eighteenth century was a relatively peaceful one. This was a time of building for the college, with the library being begun in 1712, then later the Printing House, the Dining Hall, then Parliament Square and Botany Bay. , The majority of Ireland's finest sons of the eighteenth century were graduates of Trinity: Jonathan Swift, George Berkeley, Edmund Burke, Oliver Goldsmith, Henry Grattan, Wolfe Tone...
Not only is Trinity College a Working University you can also walk around the grounds while the students are having there lectures and visit the Trinity’s famous Library.
The Library contains over five million books, including 30,000 current serials and significant collections of manuscripts, maps, and printed music and holds thousands of rare, and in many cases very early, volumes including The Book of Durrow, the Book of Howth and other ancient texts. The Book of Kells is by far the Library's most famous book which was written around the year 800 AD and is one of the most beautifully illuminated manuscripts in the world.
The Bank of Ireland in College Green
The Bank of Ireland in College Green, opposite the main entrance to Trinity College, was once the original Irish Parliament Building. Built in 1729 it was the world's first purpose- built two chamber parliament building . The building contains many large chambers and housed the House of Lords and Commons when in it's Governmental existence.
When the Irish parliament, however, voted itself out of existence at the start of the 19th century (the Act of Union), the building was sold to the Bank of Ireland for £40,000.
The building itself was so much admired that many architects have since copied features of it's design and incorporated in buildings around the world such as the British Museum in London and Capitol Hill in Washington!
Enjoy the building from the outside first, it is regarded as one of Dublin's finest. The cannons outside the entrance are actually real, the Bank of Ireland used to have its own militia.
You can still visit the preserved Chamber of the House of Lords and see the tapestries, the carved-oak fireplace and the elaborate chandelier, which consists of 1,233 separate pieces of glass.
St Patrick’s Cathedral
St Patrick’s Cathedral also formally known as Cathedral of the Blessed Virgin Mary and St Patrick was built to honour Saint Patrick Ireland’s Patron Saint. The Cathedral stands adjacent to the famous well where it was believed Saint Patrick baptised converts on his visits to Dublin.
The Cathedral was founded in 1191 though little now remains of the earliest work beyond the Baptistery. By the early 17th century, the Lady Chapel was said to have been in ruins and in 1660, repairs to the building were begun. In 1668 the roof, in danger of collapsing, was taken down, a new roof being completed by 1671 and the west window was replaced with a perpendicular window. Then in 1769 the cathedral spire was added; it remains one of Dublin's landmarks.
Throughout its long history the cathedral has contributed much to Irish life, and one key aspect of this relates to the writer and satirist Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels, who was Dean of the cathedral from 1713 to 1745. Many of his famous sermons and "Irish tracts" (such as the Drapier's Letters) were given during his stay as Dean.
Between 1860 and 1900 the Guinness family helped to restore the cathedral after it fell into disrepair. Benjamin Guinness’s son Arthur Guinness donated a stain glass window known as ‘Rebecca at the well’ in the grounds of the cathedral. His son Edward in 1901 designed the St Patrick’s Park and also donating a set of the bells to the cathedral
The cathedral is open daily 9am til 5pm where you can see the magnificent architecture and historical sites. Services are still being held at the cathedral