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Dublin (city) (Gaelic, Baile Atha Cliath, "Town of the Ford of the Hurdles"), capital of the Republic of Ireland, in Leinster Province. Dublin is Ireland's administrative, commercial, and trading hub, as well as its main centre of education and culture. Dublin is situated in eastern-central Ireland, on the coast facing the Irish Sea, at the head of a large crescent-shaped bay which is sheltered on its southern side by the Wicklow Mountains. The city occupies a generally flat site, which is bisected from west to east by the River Liffey. The climate is relatively mild, although frequently wet and overcast.

Population and Administration

In the 1960s and 1970s there was rapid population growth in the Dublin region, which now comprises Dublin County Borough (the city), Dun Laoghaire, Rathdown, Fingal, and South Dublin. During this period the population increased by 40 per cent to pass 1 million in the 1981 census, but has since stabilized and in 1995 was estimated at about 1,050,000, or 29 per cent of the national population. A recent demographic trend has been a return to living in the city centre rather than the suburbs. Dublin has a young population (about 45 per cent of whom are under 25 years of age, with nearly 75 per cent under the age of 45), although the decline in the birth rate during the 1980s will mean a gradual ageing over the next generation.

The city is the seat of national government in Ireland. The Oireachtas (Parliament), comprising the Dáil Éireann (House of Representatives) and the Seanad Éireann (Senate), sits at Leinster House in the centre of the city, close to which are situated the various government departments. The Dublin region is represented politically by about 30 per cent of the 166 members of the proportionally elected Dáil Éireann. As a member state of the European Union, the Republic of Ireland returns 15 members to the European Parliament, 4 of whom represent the capital and its environs.

Locally, the capital is administered by the Dublin Corporation (the County Borough authority), and the Dun Laoghaire, Rathdown, Fingal, and South Dublin County Councils. Ireland's judiciary is based at the Four Courts building on the River Liffey.


Dublin is one of the fastest-growing city economies in Europe, and accounts for about 35 per cent of Ireland's non-agricultural output. The region has a labour force of about 450,000. About 80 per cent those employed are engaged in service activities, and 20 per cent in manufacturing. Women account for 40 per cent of the labour force.

Within the service sector the most significant growth has been in business, professional, personal and financial services, and, increasingly, tourism-related activities. Financial services provide employment for about 30,000 people in the capital. Dublin houses the headquarters of Ireland's leading banks and insurance companies, as well as the Irish Stock Exchange, and the rapidly expanding International Financial Services Centre (the centrepiece of an urban regeneration development in the city's docklands).

In recent years tourism has become one of the highest growth areas in Dublin's economy, supporting some 23,000 jobs in hotels, shops, restaurants, and other related services. In 1995 the number of overseas visitors was 2.2 million (about double the city's population), and tourism revenue totalled about IR£440 million. Britain remains the biggest source of visitors to Dublin, although the city also attracts substantial numbers from North America and mainland Europe. A new international convention centre, with capacity for 2,000 delegates, will open in the late 1990s, which should help to sustain the city's projected tourism growth.

Dublin is the centre of the Irish computer software industry, now established as the industry's leading centre in Europe. The city accommodates about 71 per cent of Irish indigenous software companies and 76 per cent of overseas companies. International telesales is also a growth area in Dublin's economy. Other important sectors include computer hardware and electronics, engineering, pharmaceuticals, avionics, and printing. There are also traditional brewing and distilling concerns, notably St James's Gate Brewery founded by Arthur Guinness in 1759.

Although Dublin is the hub of the Irish transport system, the city transport network has been identified as inadequate. This is to be addressed by a major investment in infrastructure, largely concentrating on road improvements and better public transport provision. The Dublin Area Rapid Transport (DART) train service connects the city centre to the Dun Laoghaire ferry terminal 10 km (6 mi) to the south. Almost eight million passenger rail journeys in 1995 either started or ended at the capital's Connolly and Heuston stations (the Dublin-to-Cork route accounting for 30 per cent of journeys from the capital). Dublin Airport is Ireland's principal gateway for air traffic, and handled more than 7 million passengers in 1994 (representing over 80 per cent of all passenger movements between Ireland and the United Kingdom and Europe, 45 per cent of transatlantic passengers, and nearly 60 per cent of domestic air travel). The capital has two seaports within its environs: Dublin Port, which handles almost a third of Ireland's sea-trade, and Dun Laoghaire ferry terminal. Ship services operate to various destinations in England, Scotland, and France, and the two ports handle over 50 per cent of Irish overseas surface passengers.

Education and Culture

About 50,000 students attend Dublin's higher education institutions, which include University College Dublin (part of the National University of Ireland); the University of Dublin (Trinity College, which is also home to the famous Book of Kells illuminated manuscript dating from c. AD 800); Dublin City University; and the Dublin Institute of Technology. There is also a number of specialized institutions offering training in art and design, medicine, theology, music, and law. Among the excellent libraries of the city are the library of the University of Dublin, the Royal Dublin Society Library, the National Library, the Chester Beatty Library, and Marsh's Library (which is the oldest public library in the country).

Prominent among Dublin's many museums and galleries are the National Museum of Ireland (which houses an important collection of Celtic antiquities); the Dublin Civic Museum (with a collection relating to Dublin's history); the Natural History Museum; Kilmainham Gaol (a historical museum); the Dublin Writers' Museum (celebrating the city's long tradition as a literary centre); the National Gallery (with valuable displays of painting and sculpture); the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art; and the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Dublin can justly claim a proud literary pedigree, having produced many renowned writers, poets, and dramatists, including Jonathan Swift, Oliver Goldsmith, Richard Brinsley Sheridan, Thomas Moore, Bram Stoker, James Joyce, Oscar Wilde, Sean O'Casey, John Millington Synge, George Bernard Shaw, William Butler Yeats, Samuel Beckett, and Seamus Heaney (the last four of whom have been awarded Nobel Prizes in Literature). The composers John Field, and Charles Villiers Stanford, and the painters Francis Bacon and Sir Martin Archer Shee, also figure among Dublin's more famous citizens in the cultural sphere.

The city's principal theatres are the Abbey Theatre (which stages new Irish works), the Gate Theatre (with a more international repertoire), the Olympia, and the Gaiety. There is also a number of smaller performance venues around the capital. The Abbey Theatre opened originally in 1904, and is particularly associated with W. B. Yeats. It was destroyed by fire in 1951 but was subsequently rebuilt, and includes the smaller Peacock Theatre within its complex. A theatre festival is staged annually in Dublin in the autumn. The city also hosts, each spring, an international film festival, an opera season, and the St Patrick's Day Parade. The major concert venue is the National Concert Hall. Radio Telefis Éireann, the national radio and television station, is based in the city, and employs the country's principal symphony orchestra. In 1991 Dublin was designated as European City of Culture.

Places of Interest

Dublin's architectural prime was in the Georgian period of the 18th century. Except in its south-western portion, where the streets are narrow and crooked, the city is well laid-out, with broad avenues and spacious squares. These are especially numerous in the south-eastern and north-eastern parts of the city, which also contain many elegant houses. The oldest and largest of the city's squares is St Stephen's Green. Circular Road, a boulevard about 14 km (9 mi) long, extends along what was the periphery of the city at the end of the 19th century. Since then, the city limits have been considerably extended. Dublin contains several notable suburbs, including Rathmines and Rathgar, where the homes of many wealthy business executives are located, and Glasnevin. In the cemetery of Glasnevin lie the Irish patriots Daniel O'Connell and John Philpot Curran. Encircling central Dublin are two canals, the Grand Canal to the south and the Royal Canal to the north.

Many of Dublin's historic edifices are in the old section of the city, south of the Liffey. Dublin Castle, the nucleus around which the modern city developed, was formerly the seat of English rule in Ireland. Most of this building, which occupies a ridge overlooking the river, was completed in the 16th century and later, but parts of it date from the early 13th century. In the vicinity of the castle is the Protestant cathedral of Christ Church, founded in 1038 and rebuilt from 1870 to 1877 according to the original design. St Patrick's Cathedral, a Gothic structure not far from Christ Church, is the largest of the many churches in Dublin and the centre of the Protestant faith in the country. (Although overwhelmingly Roman Catholic by denomination, Dublin remains the most religiously diverse part of the country.) St Patrick's was founded in 1190 and rebuilt between 1220 and 1260. The remains of Jonathan Swift, once Dean of St Patrick's, are interred in the cathedral.

Trinity College (founded in 1592) and the Bank of Ireland building (completed in 1794, and the seat of the Irish Parliament until the Act of Union in 1800) are in the old section of Dublin. Among other striking public buildings of the city are the Customs House, an 18th-century structure designed by James Gandon; the Four Courts, seat of the high courts of Ireland (also designed by Gandon); and Leinster House, the present seat of the national parliament.

Phoenix Park, in the western environs of the city, is one of the world's great city parks. About 11 km (7 mi) in circumference, the site of this park encompasses part of the Liffey valley. Besides recreational and sporting facilities, Phoenix Park contains Dublin Zoo (the third-oldest public zoo in the world), several conservatories, an arboretum, and the residence of the president of the Irish Republic. Phoenix Park was the scene of a notorious double murder in 1882 when the British chief secretary for Ireland, Lord Cavendish, and his under-secretary T. H. Burke were assassinated by an illegal secret society known as the "Invincibles" who were campaigning for Irish independence. In Glasnevin is the long-established National Botanic Gardens, which functions as a scientific resource and public park.

Dublin is also renowned for its public houses, one of which, the 100-m-long Hole-In-The-Wall situated near Phoenix Park, is reportedly the longest in Europe.


The first known settlement on the site of Dublin was called Eblana, a name found in the writings of the 2nd-century Alexandrian geographer Ptolemy. The town later appears in history as Dubhlinn (Gaelic, "Black Pool"), the inhabitants of which won (AD 291) a military victory over the armed forces of the kingdom of Leinster. Baile Átha Cliath, the present official name, is believed to have been applied to the settlement at a subsequent date.

Dublin has often figured prominently in Irish history. Its inhabitants were converted to Christianity about AD 450 by Patrick, later the patron saint of Ireland. The town was captured in the 9th century by the Danes. The Irish wrested control of Dublin from the Danes on a number of occasions during the next three centuries, notably in 1052, 1075, and 1124. In 1171 the Danes were expelled by the Anglo-Normans, led by Henry II, king of England. He held court in Dublin in 1172 and later made the town a dependency of the English city of Bristol. English overlordship in Dublin remained unchallenged until 1534, when the Irish patriot Thomas Fitzgerald laid brief siege to the city in the course of a rebellion.

In the 17th century, during the English Civil War, Dublin surrendered to English parliamentary forces to prevent the city from falling to the Irish. It remained under British control until the Irish insurrection of 1798, during which an attempt to seize the city ended in failure. A second attempt in 1803, led by Robert Emmet, also ended disastrously. Further abortive insurrections occurred in Dublin in 1847 and 1867. Dublin was the scene of some of the most severe fighting of the Easter Rebellion of 1916 and of the revolution of 1919-1921, which resulted in the establishment of the Irish Free State, and the Irish Civil War that followed.

In the 1930s, new housing projects began to extend the outskirts of the city, clearing some of the inner city slums. Following World War II, in which Ireland remained neutral and Dublin hence escaped the worst effects of the conflict, the city again began to expand into the surrounding hinterland. The surge in building in the 1960s and 1970s reflected the growing prosperity of the city. The pace of development slowed down in the face of the recession in the early 1980s, and although it has since picked up again, high unemployment in the city continues to cause concern. In 1988 the city celebrated its millennium.