Dublin is known all over the world for its charm and welcoming atmosphere. But it also a mystifying place, defined by history. Here are 8 things you would not associate with the Irish capital.
1. Dublin means Black Pool
The Dubh Linn was a lake used by the Vikings to moor their trade ships and was connected to the Liffey by the River Poddle. In Old Irish Gaelic, “Dubh” is correctly pronounced as “Dhuv” or “Dhuf” and the original pronunciation is preserved in Old Norse as “Dyflin” and Old English as “Difelin”. In the traditional Gaelic script language, bh was written with a dot over the b. At some point, the dot was omitted and the city’s name was spelt and pronounced as “Dublin”.
2. Dublin has the youngest population in Europe
When you think of the typical Dubliner, it is easy to envision an old man at the bar of a pub, ordering a “pint of black”, i.e. Guinness. In fact, Dublin has the youngest population in all of Europe - with 50 percent of the population being under 25, contributing to the city’s vibrant nightlife and student life.
3. Are the Irish really descendants of Vikings?
In 1988, Dublin celebrated its millennium, meaning that the Irish government recognised 988 as the year in which the city was established by Scandinavian Vikings. However, the Viking settlement is nowadays thought to be preceded by a Celtic-speaking Christian ecclesiastical settlement known as “Duibhlinn”. There is an ongoing debate regarding precisely where the city was settled in the 7th century.
4. Dublin is an IT hub
For many, Dublin is still associated with traditional manufacturing. In 1916, the year of the Irish independence, the biscuit making factory of W. & R. Jacob’s was one of the biggest employers in all of Dublin. Nowadays, however, the economic boost of the 1990’s saw a number of global pharmaceutical and IT companies move to the Irish capital. Microsoft, Google, Amazon, eBay, PayPal, Yahoo, Facebook and Twitter all have their European headquarters and/or operational bases here, leading some to nickname Dublin the “Tech Capital of Europe”. Through low corporation taxes, the government of Ireland has managed to build up the economy after the 2008 recession.
5. O’Connell Bridge is wider than it is long
O’Connell Bridge, spanning River Liffey in central Dublin, is famous throughout Europe for its unique dimensions. It is one of the only bridges in the world to be wider than it is long. Unti; 1863, the bridge was a rope bridge that could only hold “one person and a donkey” at a time. O’Connell street is also known for being one of the widest in Europe, measuring 49 meters across.
6. Phoenix Park the largest in Europe
Did you know that Dublin has over 2,000 hectares of greenery as well as miles of walking and cycling paths? It is also home to Europe’s largest city park - the huge Phoenix Park, where you will find Dublin Zoo and - since the 17th century - a herd of wild fallow deer. At 707 hectares, it is the largest urban park in the world after New York’s Central Park.
7. The Temple Bar area housed the first Jewish temple in Ireland
The Temple Bar area isn’t all pubs and nightlife, as the name suggests. It is actually named after the the first Jewish temple built in Ireland, whereas the word “bar” refers to the Catholics’ refusal to allow the Jewish community to enter any of the adjoining commercial premises.
8. Saint Valentine’s remains lie to rest in Dublin
Who knew you would find the saint of courtly love buried in Dublin? Saint Valentine is a 3rd-century Roman saint and martyr who died on February 14th - known in modern tongue as Valentines Day. He was thought to have a knack for matchmaking as well as incredible healing qualities; the legend says he once restored a blind girl’s eyesight back to health. You can visit Saint Valentine’s shrine in Whitefriar Street Church in Dublin. Although he is one of the most famous saints in pop culture, he is no longer recognised by a saint as the Vatican, as there is not enough known of him.
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