From urban design to celeb spotting, Dublin is a vibrant and ever evolving city with plenty to discover, both for first timers and those who think they already know it well.
1. Handel’s Messiah was first performed in Dublin in 1742
On 13 April 1742, Handel's Messiah, one of the most famous musical pieces in the world, premiered to 700 people in Temple Bar. Every year Fishamble Street – first made by the Vikings to connect with the River Liffey – is filled with the sounds from choirs as they perform excerpts from Handel's Messiah.
2. Phoenix Park is the largest walled park in Europe
Dublin may not be a sprawling metropolis, but we’ve the largest enclosed city park in Europe. At 1,750 acres, it is five times the size of London's Hyde Park and double the size of New York's Central Park. Phoenix Park is also home to Dublin Zoo, wild roaming deer, offers fun Segway tours, and hosts everything from morning yoga classes to huge concerts, with world renowned acts such as Florence and the Machine and Snow Patrol playing here in recent years. It’s so popular even the Irish President lives there in Áras an Úachtaráin while the stunning Farmleigh House runs tours and hosts a variety of events all year round.
3. You CAN get across Dublin without passing a pub
In Ulysses, James Joyce mused that “a good puzzle would be to cross Dublin without passing a pub”. And now you can! The Joyce riddle has been solved by tech buff Rory McCann, who developed an algorithm to plot a route from one canal to another without hitting a pub.
4. St Valentine is buried in a Dublin church
Forget Paris, Dublin is the city of love: we have our own Romeo and his name is St Valentine, the saint for lovers all over the world. The remains of this patron saint lie in Dublin’s Whitefrair Street Church, and many make the journey to visit him each year; so don’t forget to bring your love letter.
5. Dubliners are pedal pushers
Listen to this: the city has over 120 miles of cycle tracks, and Dublin’s Bike scheme has 450 bikes for public use and 40 bike stations around the city. Seeing Dublin on two wheels has never been easier. Cycling in big cities can be intimidating, but fear not, Dublin is more accessible than most – you can cycle from one side of Dublin city to another in half an hour. Dublin is also only minutes from from an array of stunning coastline, with its mountainous backdrop reserved for the more adventurous cyclist!
6. Urban design in Dublin is dynamic
This summer you can experience Dublin’s ‘Love the Lanes’ – a plan that will transform the lesser used lanes of the iconic Temple Bar into interesting spaces waiting to be explored. Our urban development initiatives would give Copenhagen a run for its money: at Dublin’s urban farm, Airfield, you’ll find green woodlands, stunning gardens and a unique heritage centre - if you have an interest in vintage motors you'll definately want to pay Airfield a visit as their garage displays a stunning 1927 Rolls Royce among others! Beekeeping is a real buzz too with Irish bank AIB investing in rooftop beekeeping at their city headquarters.
7. A Dubliner designed the famous Oscar award statue
Long before Colin Farrell and Jonathan Reese Myers, Dublin had direct links to Tinseltown. Most know that the roaring lion in the clip at the start of MGM films was born and reared in Dublin Zoo. But lesser known is the fact that the designer of the infamous Oscar award in 1928 was Dublin-born Cedric Gibbons. And the Oscar goes to…quite a few Dubliners actually – George Bernard Shaw, Barry Fitzgerald, Brenda Fricker and Glen Hansard have all won Oscars, not to mention Daniel Day Lewis (honorary Dubliner) who lives just down the road in Annamoe, Co. Wicklow.
8. 10 million pints of Guinness are produced in Dublin daily
You can smell the rich scent of hops from many places in the city and that’s because at St James' Gate in the city centre, Guinness is made en masse for the those who like to enjoy the traditional stout beer also known as a ‘meal in a cup’. You can also visit the Guinness Storehouse at St. James' Gate and enjoy panoramic views of the city from the dizzying heights of the Gravity Bar. Interesting fact: the original Guinness Brewery has a 9,000 year lease on its property, for 45 Irish pounds per year, expiring in 10759...
BONUS INFO: The world renowned Guinness Book of Records came into existence in 1954 when Guinness’ Managing Director, Hugh Beaver, determined to help people settle obscure debates that came up during conversations in bars across the world! So how many grown adults do you think you could fit in a Volkswagen Beetle…?
9. Dublin is perfect for celeb-spotting
A host of celebrities enjoy the city: Beyonce and Jay Z were recently spotted with their daughter Blue Ivy strolling in Phoenix Park. Party-lovin’ Will Ferrell and the Anchorman cast drank pints in Toners pub; while even Miley Cyrus enjoyed a quiet dinner with locals in Mulligan’s of Stoneybatter – a great spot for a hearty meal produced with local ingredients. Keep an eye out for famous Dublin buskers too: from The Frames frontman Glen Hansard, to Bono, Sinead O'Connor and Passenger to name but a few, many well known musicians have been known to set up on Dublin streets and give free shows to passers-by. Who will you spot strolling around the city?
10. Dublin has a rich and thriving art scene
Dublin has always had a wealth of inspiring art museums, galleries, sculptures and outdoor installations to explore from the National Gallery and the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) to public art dotted throughout Dublin’s Docklands or the exciting urban space designed by Martha Schwartz at Grand Canal Square.
As you explore the city a bit more, you will see that the Dublin’s street art scene is in full Bloom! Where else would you find graffiti inspired by James Joyce? Be sure to check out artist James Earley’s Joycean makeover of Bloom’s Hotel in Temple Bar – a unique piece of artwork. With city councils promoting artists, streets are being enlivened with creative work. Other classic locations to check out local street art are U2’s infamous Windmill Lane, and the Camden Street area.