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Lively pubs and hearty food provoke the world to celebrate Irish cities like Dublin every March, but a contemporary art scene, fine shopping, and musical enlightenment are further glaze for why Dublin is affectionately referred to as the fair city. Dubliners are known for their warm welcome and cheerful banter. There is unlikely to be a seat in the city absent of a friendly face or animated story. A stylish metropolis adorned with a patriotic history and veneration for robust traditions, Dublin is both jovial and refined.

Located on the east coast of the Emerald Isle, almost half of the entire Irish population resides in Dublin. As the capital, it is home to the Oireachtas, Ireland's national parliament. The General Post Office on O'Connell Street is where Ireland officially declared its independence from England during the 1916 Easter Rising. Ireland became a republic four years later after the 1922 treaty was signed. Building on its past, Dublin now flourishes as a technological hub and is the European headquarters of many renowned global internet companies.


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Although English is primarily spoken, Irish Gaelic is the national language of Ireland and is seen on many signs and maps throughout Dublin. In the native tongue, Dublin is known as BaileÁthaCliath . When visiting the city, it's imperative to have a grasp on common words to avoid surprises. Counterintuitive, fir signifies the men's toilet and mna the women's. The window fronts of many pubs promote an abundance of craic , the Irish word for fun.

Profuse literary icons abound from Dublin. Known for such avant-garde novels as Ulysses and the Dubliners, James Joyce is a celebrated historical figure in the city. Besides countless centres and statues dedicated in his name, Bloomsday is an annual June festival that promotes his work through a series of events and lectures. The former home of Bram Stoker on Kildare Street is a favourite amongst Dublin's ghost tours and Dracula fans, as is his birthplace on Marino Crescent in Clontarf. Similarly, the childhood home of Oscar Wilde near Merrion Square is one of Dublin's paramount Georgian dwellings and is open to the public.

There is no admission fee into national museums and galleries in Dublin. The skeletons of giant deer that stand several stories high are on display at the Natural History Museum on Merrion Street. In the Archaeology Department building on Kildare Street, prized relics include the Ardagh Chalice, a vessel fastened with precious gemstones and gold, and St. Patrick's Bell and Shrine. Those with an interest in fashion can take a tour of two centuries worth of gowns worn by ladies of Dublin at the Decorative Arts and History Museum in Collins Barracks.

It's nearly impossible to walk the streets of Dublin without encountering one of its copious churches. The most popular is St. Patrick's Cathedral where visitors can hear the choir sing and visit the tomb of Jonathan Swift, the author of Gulliver's Travels. Packed with pilgrims of love every 14 th of February, the relics of St. Valentine are a few steps away at the Whitefriar Street Church. The oldest medieval church in Dublin is Christchurch Cathedral. Intrigues include a mummified cat and rat.

Bill Clinton and Queen Elizabeth II of England have each sampled a pint at Dublin's landmark tourist site, the Guinness Factory, where Ireland's famous dark stout is produced. At the Storehouse, visitors are treated to an interactive experience highlighting the process and history of the signature brew. Equally, across town in Smithfield, a leisurely afternoon can be spent tasting mastered whiskey blends at the Old Jameson Distillery.

A day of sightseeing is best complemented with a savoury meal in Temple Bar. Traditional Irish recipes served include cabbage and bacon, lamb stew, soda bread, and Bailey's coffee. The epicentre of tourism in Dublin, the cobbled streets of Temple Bar are full of restaurants and street performers. Activities including taking a photograph with a leprechaun or singing along to Dirty Old Town and other classic songs from Eire at the numerous pubs. Within the labyrinth of merriment on Temple Lane South is the Wall of Fame depicting legendary musical talent from Ireland including Sinead O'Connor, Van Morrison, and Phil Lynott.

Designer labels and high fashion chains provide elite retail therapy on pedestrianised Grafton Street. The most revered upmarket shopping district in the whole of Ireland, Grafton Street is a sophisticated jungle of clothing, electronic, and souvenir shops. There are also a number of fast food options and cafés. A local preference is the warm and distinctive ambiance of Bewley's Oriental Café.

Family picnics are abundant in Dublin's verdant parks. Weary entrepreneurs and theatre enthusiasts find solace at St. Stephen's Green. Recipients of the Freedom of Dublin City are awarded many privileges including the right to herd sheep in the park. Famously, in 2000, Bono and the Edge exercised that entitlement by bringing two lambs into St. Stephen's Green to graze. On the far end of Dublin is Phoenix Park, Europe's largest enclosed urban park. It boasts a variety of wildlife, monuments, and attractions such as the Dublin Zoo and the Aras anUachtaráin, the presidential residence.

Magic and myth come alive at the National Leprechaun Museum, one of Dublin's quirkier exhibits. Appropriate for both children and adults, it offers a colourful exploration of Celtic mythology. For a spookier folklore experience, the forty steps of St. Audoen's Church are meant to be the most haunted place in Dublin. A far more peaceful city treasure is the Chester Beatty Library, an interfaith museum. Within its serene walls visitors can view for free sacred and ancient texts from around the world including fragments of the oldest known manuscripts of several biblical gospels.

Laughter is the soul of Dublin. There is never a rush to break away from the company of friends. Life is lived casually but passionately. Around the clock, all who walk through the buoyant gates of Dublin are encouraged to embrace the laissez faire attitude. Grab a pint or a cup of coffee, circle the loved ones around the table, and raise a toast to good health or, as the Irish would say, sláinte .



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