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The Vikings established Dublin in the 9th century as one of its three great towns of north-western Europe outside Scandinavia. The city was captured by the English in 1171 and King Henry II encouraged people from England to settle in the area. By the 13th century Dublin Castle had become the seat of English royal administration.
In the 19th century Dublin was considerably expanded and was recognised as the second city of the British Isles. By 1900 nearly 26,000 families lived in 5,000 tenements. Over 20,000 families lives in one room and another 5,000 had only two rooms. Of the 5,000 tenements, over 1,500 were condemned as being unfit for human habitation.
The average death-rate in Ireland at this time was 17.3 persons per thousand of the population. In Dublin it was 24.8. Infant mortality was the main reason for this high death-rate. In 1901 an average of 168 babies died per 1000 births. The average for the rest of Ireland was 101 per 1000 births whereas in London it was 148 per thousand.
The other major killer in Dublin was tuberculosis. A report published in 1912 claimed that the death-rate from tuberculosis was 50 per cent higher in Ireland than in Scotland and England. The report added that in Dublin "the vast majority of deaths (from tuberculosis) occurred among the poorer classes, especially in the families occupying single-room dwellings."
In 1901 there were 9,397 men employed in industry in Dublin (printing, engineering, clothing, furnishing and leather tanning). Another 7,602 were in the carrying trade and a further 23,278 men were classified as labourers.
After 1919 the buildings of the British era were taken over by the recently established Republican government. For example, the former Mansion House became the first home of the new Parliament.
O'Connell Street is crowded with English soldiers, to whom Irish girls have flocked from the Coombe and other parts of the city, where they have no fit home in which to stay. People have been lately complaining in the Press that they are followed in the street by children, or their elders, trying to gain the tenth part of a penny. It is easy to understand that people should be annoyed not to be left at peace, when they themselves are put 'to the pin of their collar' to keep a good roof over their heads. Nevertheless ought we not all to ask ourselves whether children go about bare-legged and ill-fed through mere perversity, and whether it is a natural, legitimate, and inevitable state of things that some people should be unable to feed themselves and their families.
O'Connell Street is crowded with English soldiers, to whom Irish girls have flocked from the Coombe and other parts of the city, where they have no fit home in which to stay. Nevertheless ought we not all to ask ourselves whether children go about barelegged and ill-fed through mere perversity, and whether it is a natural, legitimate, and inevitable state of things that some people should be unable to feed themselves and their families.
It was a regrettable fact that in Ireland (in 1900) the death-rate from tuberculosis was roughly 50 per cent higher than it was in Scotland and England.
They take to themselves that they have all the rights that are given to men and to societies of men, but they deny the right of the men to claim that they also have a substantial claim on the share of the produce they produce, and they further say they want no third party interference. They want to deal with their workingmen individually. It means that the men who hold the means of life control our lives, and, because we workingmen have tried to get some measure of justice, some measure of betterment, they deny the right of the human being to associate with his fellow. Why the very law of nature was mutual co-operation. Man must be associated with his fellows. The employers were not able to make their own case. Let him help them. What was the position of affairs in connection with life in industrial Ireland? There are 21,000 families - four and a half persons to a family - living in single rooms. Who are responsible? The gentlemen opposite to him would have to accept the responsibility. Of course they must. They said they control the means of life; then the responsibility rests upon them. Twenty-one thousand people multiplied by five, over a hundred thousand people huddled together in the putrid slums of Dublin.
Priest and parson, politician and press, and police authorities have admitted that there is a condition of things here in Dublin which is unequalled in Western Europe. Poverty stalks in your midst; disease is rampant; vice lifts its foul head naked, unashamed; sweating and overworking are ever present; underfeeding is plain to anyone with eyes to see; dirt, disease and death caused by the exploitation of the dispossessed worker by the unscrupulous unchristian employer; children rot and die in the slums; women are broken-hearted and degraded; men are dispirited and debauched owing to the wretched conditions of life. The only cure is clean honest administration of the city's affairs by clean, honest, intelligent men and women. Therefore, to you is given the duty to return such men.
Crumlin covers the area from the River Poddle near the KCR (Kimmage Cross Roads) to Sundrive Road and Crumlin Cross at The Submarine Bar to Crumlin's village core and the Drimnagh Road, to Bunting Road, Crumlin Road then along the Grand Canal from Rialto Bridge to Sally's Bridge. It is situated near to the city centre, on the Southside of Dublin city. Neighbouring areas include Walkinstown, Perrystown, Drimnagh, Terenure, and Kimmage. Crumlin is contained within postal district Dublin 12.
Crumlin gets its name from the "crooked valley" known as Lansdowne Valley. The valley was formed by glacial erosion in the distant past and is now bisected by the River Camac. The valley is situated in front of Drimnagh and is largely made up of good-quality houses with plentiful recreational parkland. [ citation needed ]
During the medieval period, Dublin was surrounded by manorial settlements, each comprising a manor house, church and graveyard, farmland and cottages. These settlements grew into a network of villages around Dublin, creating stability and continuity of location. Crumlin village developed as an Anglo-Norman settlement soon after the Norman Conquest in 1170 (although the circular configuration of the old graveyard of Saint Mary’s in the village suggests pre-Norman associations), and has survived through the centuries to become the village of today. The Old Saint Mary's Church stands on the site of a 12th-century church of the same dedication, and a succession of churches occupied the site down through the centuries to the present day. In 1193, King John (the then Earl of Moreton) gave the Crumlin church to form one prebend for the collegiate church of Saint Patrick. When the main body of the present old church was rebuilt in 1817, the old tower of much earlier origin was preserved.
Crumlin, along with Saggart, Newcastle, Lyons and Esker (Lucan), was constituted a royal manor by King John sometime before the end of his reign in 1216. The English noble families of the time had strong links with Ireland, particularly in Leinster. For example, William Fitz John of Harptree  was a lord of some significance in Somerset and likely to have served in Ireland under King John. At the beginning of the reign of King Henry III, Fitz John acquired the custody of the lands of William de Carew and held the royal manor of Crumlin, although he did not establish family roots in Ireland.  
As the church was the nucleus of life on the manor in medieval times, we may with confidence place the centre of Crumlin’s medieval settlement, in the area of the modern Crumlin village. This has been confirmed by recent archaeological excavations in the area of Saint Mary’s and the site of the former motte and earthworks on which the new St. Mary's Church was built.
Some of the local amenities in Crumlin, such as Pearse College on Clogher Road and Ceannt park, are named after some of the 1916 Rebels who had a training camp in nearby Kimmage at Sundrive crossroads.
A number of roads are named after some of Ulster's towns and various Irish towns associated with pagan or religious sites/towns. There's a statue of the warrior Cúchulainn situated opposite St. Mary's Church at the junction with Bunting Road. The statue is for Oisín, a Kildare man who played hurling in the Crumlin area. Cúchulainn, his father, was from the Cooley mountains around Louth, South Armagh where the Cooley Road in Drimnagh gets its name.
Schools serving the area include Loreto College, Rosary College, Scoil Úna Naofa (previously St. Agnes NS), Marist National School, St. Kevin's College, and Scoil Íosagáin. [ citation needed ]
Dublin Bus routes which serve the Crumlin area include route numbers 9, 17, 18, 27, 56A, 77A, 83, 83A, 122, 123, 150, and 151. [ citation needed ]
GAA clubs in the area include Crumlin GAA (based in Pearse Park, with its clubrooms in O'Toole Park), Kevin's GAA (based in Dolphin Park) and Templeogue Synge Street GAA (based in Dolphin Park, with clubrooms in Bushy Park). [ citation needed ] St James Gaels, another GAA club in the area, play their home games at the Iveagh Grounds. [ citation needed ] Guinness Rugby Football Club is also based at the Iveagh Grounds.
Local Association football (soccer) clubs include Crumlin United F.C., St James's Gate F.C., and Lourdes Celtic FC. The latter is a junior football team from the Sundrive area, which plays in the Leinster Junior Leagues. Damien Duff and Andy Reid formerly played for the club. [ citation needed ]
Crumlin Boxing Club is based in Windmill road and produced Dean Byrne. Crumlin Bowling Club is based on St.Mary's Road and was originally part of the Imperial Tobacco Company from 1926 to 1947. [ citation needed ]
Main Stage Wrestling Academy, based on Sundrive Road, is a professional wrestling school. [ citation needed ]
When the RTÉ drama Fair City launched in 1989, exterior shots were filmed in the Crumlin-Drimnagh area for the first three seasons of the programme (1989–93) until season four launched in 1994, the year the set in RTÉ, Donnybrook was completed.
In 1994, replicas of the exterior of the houses used in the series were constructed in the Donnybrook studios. It is still filmed there to this day.
Notable people who have lived in or been associated with the area include:
The politics of 19th-century Ireland were characterised by constitutional, social and revolutionary struggle – such as the campaign to repeal the Act of Union and restore self-government. Later, the Home Rule movement under Charles Stewart Parnell eventually led to the culmination of modern Irish political history and the struggle for independence playing out on the very streets of Dublin. The 1916 Rising, the Irish War of Independence (1919), the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1922 and the Civil War the following year all left their mark on the city. The destroyed areas were rebuilt and Dublin became a capital once again. The Irish government still sits in Dublin today, in Leinster House on Kildare Street in the city centre.
The Dublin Historical Society, whose mission is to “ . . . collect, prepare and preserve all historical facts, relics and memorials of all kinds pertaining to the Town of Dublin, including such portions of other towns as may originally have been a part of the Town of Dublin . . .,” was founded in 1920 and revived in 1986.
We also operate a small museum in an old one-room schoolhouse on Main Street just below the current elementary school. The museum is open in the summer on Saturday mornings from 9-noon. At all other times, the museum is open by appointment. Please call and ask for Russell Bastedo.
Our main collection of letters, photos, documents, books etc. are kept in the Dublin Archives located behind the Dublin Town Hall. See our Archives page for more information.
We welcome submissions to the historical society: books, letters, documents, photos, et al, that pertain to Dublin. If you are having a good “clear out” and don’t know what to do with that box of letters (and they have to do with Dublin or Dublin residents, past and present), give us a call before you go to the dump!
Dublin - History
Call Us: 614-889-2001
Visit Us: 129 S. High St., Dublin, OH 43017
Native Americans from the Hopewell, Adena, Delaware, Shawnee and Wyandot tribes were among the first inhabitants of the countryside that was to become Dublin, Ohio. After the Revolutionary War, the United States Government gave 2,000 acres of land along the Scioto River to Lieutenant James Holt as payment for his service. In 1802, Pennsylvanians Peter and Benjamin Sells purchased 400 acres of this land for their brother, John. Today, the site of the John Sells&rsquo original purchase is known as Historic Dublin.
In 1808, John Sells and his family traveled to Ohio to claim the land. Two years later, Sells and an Irish gentleman, John Shields, began surveying lots for the future town. According to legend, Sells requested that Shields choose its name. After much deliberation, Shields reportedly said: "If I have the honor conferred upon me to name your village, with the brightness of the morn and the beaming sun on the hills and dales surrounding this beautiful valley, it would give me great pleasure to name your new town after my birthplace, Dublin, Ireland."
Dublin was incorporated in 1881 and officially became a city in August 1987. Through well-managed growth, Dublin has preserved much of its historic past while enriching the quality of life within the community. Early nineteenth century architecture and dry-laid limestone fences bordering its roads serve as testimonials to Dublin's rural heritage. Many of its original buildings are listed in the National Registry of Historic Places.
These reminders of Dublin's rural beginnings complement what has now become a thriving suburban business center. Dublin's population increase from 681 residents in 1970 to more than 35,000 residents today can be attributed to the completion of the I-270 outerbelt, the development of Muirfield Village Golf Club, and the arrival of many corporate headquarters such as Wendy's International and Ashland, Inc.
Today Dublin encompasses nearly 25 square miles in the northwest area of metropolitan Columbus. Its population is comprised of upwardly mobile, young, married and employed citizenry, more than half of whom have children living at home. The daytime population rises to more than 60,000 people, including residents and corporate citizens.
For more information on the history of Dublin, please contact Tom Holton at the Dublin Historical Society at 614-716-9149.
(Tom&rsquos sources: Dublin Historical Society, Ohio Historical Society, and City of Dublin.)
Dublin Historical Print
Available at the Chamber of Commerce for a donation of $20.
History of Dublin
Native Americans – Hopewell, Adenas, Delaware, Shawnee and Wyandot – were the first inhabitants of the countryside that was to become Dublin. The Hopewell left several mounds, one of which will be incorporated into a City of Dublin park and education center. Today’s Historic Dublin includes a section or about 800 acres of land given to Lieutenant James Holt by the Commonwealth of Virginia as payment for service in the Revolutionary War. This part of what became Ohio was known as the Virginia Military District.
Ludwig Sells and his sons scouted along the Scioto River and decided on this site about 1803. It is on a portion of the Scioto River which was recommended because it is the highest point of land along the entire river and very unlikely to flood. Resources were plentiful for farming and hunting and building materials like stone and timber were in great supply. John Sells, one of the brothers, platted part of his land to establish a village in 1810. He asked John Shields, the surveyor who platted the site for him, to name the village which up to then had been known as Sells Settlement. Shields named it Dublin after his home in Dublin, Ireland. Today, the site of Sells’ original purchase is known as Historic Dublin.
Several founding families followed one another from Huntingdon County, Pennsylvania. Most of these families were of German and other European heritage: Karrer, Ashbaugh, Horch, Ebey (Aebi), Geese, Leppert, Hayden. Despite Dublin’s name, very few Irish families were among those finding a home in early Dublin.
The Indian Run and Scioto River providing the power to drive machinery for mills built by industrious men. Mills cut trees for improved building materials and they ground grains for a variety of uses. There were three grain mills on the Scioto River during the early years.
Dublin was a farming community with businesses supporting the farmers. Another sector of business was tavern and lodging for travelers primarily along the coach road now called Route 161. People needed a place to stay for the night, a meal, and horses had to be put up and fed. Stone quarrying became a big business as means and machinery allowed men to blast and move rock and stone efficiently in large quantities. During the early stone quarry years, Dublin gained a reputation as a rough town. There was a refrain heard in many of the bars in the late 1880’s:
Dublin, city of beautiful roses,
Gouged-out eyes and bloody noses
If it weren’t for the solid rock foundation
It’d be gone to hell and damnation!
Here is a surprising fact about Dublin: Four great-grandsons of Ludwig Sells, Dublin’s founding father, got together and bought into the circus business. They started with a small circus show around 1870 and grew by acquiring other circuses until they had the largest circus in the world for a time, finally closing in 1905.
Life in Dublin continued for many years with little change. Some locals describe the village as a “poor farming town” and photos of the buildings in the years before the 1970’s confirm that.
In the 1970s, Dublin began to transform from a rural village into a suburban business center. Contributing factors include Ashland Chemical Company’s decision to locate a new building in Dublin. Another was the decision to include a ramp to Dublin at the I-270 outerbelt and a third is the development of the Muirfield Village Golf Club and residential community. These three put Dublin on a trajectory for growth.
The quality of Dublin’s commercial construction was established early with the development of Metro Center and the Midwestern Volkswagen “MidVo” complex (the buildings now are part of OCLC). With rapid business and residential growth, Dublin officially became a city in August 1987.
Through well-managed growth, Dublin has preserved its historic past while enriching the quality of life within the community. Early 19th century architecture and dry-laid limestone fences bordering its roads add to Historic Dublin’s heritage. Many of its original buildings are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.
In 2004 the City of Dublin wrote a history of the village and city, “Dublin’s Journey”. The book tells many of the characteristics that contribute to the character of our community including landscaping regulations put in place when the village was in a forming state of development. The city manager form of government is another. Citizen participation in government, bed tax, park land set aside in developments, and many more add to our city’s quality of life.
“Dublin’s Journey” contains more great history stories including the legend of Leatherlips, the Wyandot chief memorialized with the sculpture in Scioto Park and how Dublin lost the chance to become the capital of Ohio in a poker game. The book tells about Jack Nicklaus’ inspiration for The Memorial Tournament and how the Dublin Irish Festival grew from a small party on the Coffman Park tennis courts to one of the largest festivals in the country attracting over 110,000 visitors and growing annually.
“Dublin’s Journey” outlines the fortuitous planning that City leaders undertook to create a world-class community.
For more information on Dublin history, visit the Dublin Historical Society site, www.dublinohiohistory.org
Dublin History Collection
A collaboration between the Dublin Historical Society, the Dublin Branch of the Columbus Metropolitan Library, and the City of Dublin, the Dublin Memory Project was awarded a grant from the City of Dublin in 2009 to help celebrate the Bicentennial in 2010. The grant allows the partners to gather and promote, research and catalogue, digitize and preserve Dublin’s history for in-person and on-line access. We are assembling Dublin’s digital “scrapbook.”
9 things to do in Dublin for the history lover
Let's start at the beginning at Dublinia. This museum at Christ Church has four different exhibits, including one on Viking Dublin and another about Medieval Dublin. There's also an exhibit on the “history hunters” (AKA the archaeologists) who were responsible for uncovering Dublin's past. To get an understanding of Dublin's early history, this would be a great place to start.
The museum is also connected to Christ Church Cathedral, which is also worth a visit with its 1000+ years of history.
2. The Book of Kells
Which of my fellow history lovers are also book nerds like me? If so, then you aren't going to want to miss the Book of Kells exhibition at Trinity College. Trinity College itself is full of history it's the oldest university in Ireland, having been founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I. The Book of Kells is even older – estimates are that it was created around 800 AD.
Old Library at Trinity College
And just what is the Book of Kells? It's an an illuminated manuscript (essentially an illustrated/decorated book) in Latin, containing the four Gospels of the New Testament. It gets its name from the fact that it was give to Trinity College from the Abbey of Kells, and it's been on display there for hundreds of years.
Your ticket to see the Book of Kells and associated exhibit also gets you into the Long Room of the Old Library at Trinity, which is essentially any book-lovers wet dream.
3. Dublin Castle
Did you know that Dublin has a castle? (Well, I mean, it IS in Ireland, so I guess it shouldn't be that surprising!) Dublin Castle dates all the way back to 1204, when it was built as a fortress under the orders of King John of England. It's gone through some renovations since that time (after a fire in the late 1600s, it was rebuilt as a Georgian Palace, which is what you can see today), but was used as the seat of British rule in Ireland until 1922.
Today, the castle is mostly a tourist attraction. You can visit the former state apartments and Gothic Chapel Royal, and also see where they've excavated past the history of the current castle into some Viking ruins.
4. Kilmainham Gaol
While no longer used as a prison, Kilmainham Gaol still remains an important site in Dublin. It was built in 1796 and served as a jail (gaol) for 128 years. Most notably, it's where many of the leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising (a major event in the campaign for Irish independence) were imprisoned and later executed by the British.
Kilmainham ceased being a prison in 1924, and today is a museum run by the Office of Public Works. You can take tours of the old prison blocks, hear stories about the kind of conditions the prisoners endured, and learn about some of the more famous people who were imprisoned there.
And if you want to learn more about the Easter Rising itself, you might want to visit the GPO Witness History Visitor Centre, located on O'Connell Street. The GPO (General Post Office) served as the headquarters for the leaders of the Easter Rising.
5. Merrion Square
Located on the south side of Dublin's city center, Merrion Square is the place to go if you love architecture and colorful doors. The square was laid out in the mid-1700s (so yes, it's definitely historical!), and its Georgian townhouses at one time housed famous Irish writers like Oscar Wilde and W. B. Yeats.
Today, many of the building on Merrion Square house offices, but you can still go to enjoy the architecture and the public park in the middle of the square (the park is where you can find the statue of Oscar Wilde, too). Merrion Square is also close to the Natural History Museum and National Gallery.
Because you can never take too many photos of colorful doors.
6. Dublin Writers Museum
Speaking of famous Irish writers, Dublin is also home to the Dublin Writers Museum. The museum itself only opened in 1991, but it's housed in an 18th-century house on Parnell Square, and celebrates Irish writers and poets who have made an important contribution to literature (and especially Irish literature).
If this sounds up your alley, you can also visit the nearby James Joyce Center (honoring another famous Irish writer), or sign up for a literary pub crawl around Dublin.
7. St. Patrick's Cathedral or Christ Church Cathedral
In Europe in general, the oldest buildings besides castles are usually churches. This is true in Dublin, too. St. Patrick's Cathedral, the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland, was founded in 1191 and is both the largest and tallest church in the country.
Christ Church Cathedral (which I mentioned earlier in this post) is even older.
8. Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship and Famine Museum
Found on Custom House Quay in Dublin, the Jeanie Johnston Tall Ship is a replica of the original, which made 16 journeys from Ireland to North America between 1847 and 1855. During this time, people were fleeing Ireland due to famine – 2,500 people emigrated on the Jeanie Johnston alone.
Visiting the tall ship includes a tour where you'll learn about the ship, the famine, and the people who made the journey to North America. Cool fact: Even though sea travel was less than glamorous in those days, not one single person died on a journey with the Jeanie Johnston.
9. The Ha'penny Bridge
This iron footbridge built in 1816 was the very first footbridge in Dublin to cross the River Liffey. The bridge was built as an alternative to a ferry that used to cross the river, and required the same toll: a ha’penny (or half penny). Today, the bridge is one of the most photographed sights in Dublin.
BONUS: Historic places to eat
Dublin has its fair share of great pubs, but if you want to try out something a little different, check out one of these spots:
The Bank on College Green – This restaurant and pub is located near Trinity College and is in a building that used to be the Belfast Bank (which dates back to 1892). They just won an award for the best pub with food in Dublin, meaning it's both historic AND tasty.
The Church – This pub, restaurant, and music venue used to be (can you guess?) a church! St. Mary’s Church of Ireland was built in the early 18th century, closing in 1964. Today, The Church, opened in 2005, is a premier place to visit in Dublin for food, music, and fun.
Lord Edward Fitzgerald
An Irish aristocrat who had served in the British Army in American during the Revolutionary War, Fitzgerald was an unlikely Irish rebel. Yet he helped organize an underground fighting force which might have succeeded in toppling British rule in 1798. Fitzgerald's arrest, and death in British custody, made him a martyr to Irish rebles of the 19th century, who venerated his memory.
Public Walking Tours
Dublin Decoded continue adding to our schedule, of the best public guided walks of our capital for the culturally-curious. For Private tours, exclusively for your own private group, which are bookable on any available date, please hit the green Book Now button onscreen then choose Private Tours from the pop up menu, choose your tour, then your preferred date and start time.
For everyone else you may prefer to join one of our scheduled Public tours, running on selected dates throughout this summer, as listed below Visitors and local people alike have found these tours a revelation the subject of hundreds of 5* reviews on TripAdvisor and elsewhere, and routinely described as the best tours of the Irish capital. We maintain that there may never be a better time to explore or to discover the pleasure of being a “tourist in your own town“. Here is what we offer…
- Public Tours still limited to 15 guests maximum
- Focused purely on outdoor sights.
- fantastic audio-receiver sets on all public tours.
- These sets are sterilized and quarantined prior to every use, with a single-use disposable earpiece.
- They offer superior sound for our live commentary, they screen out background street noise and, crucially…
- allow enhanced social distancing.
- With a range of over 60 meters, they also allow each guest to have their own space and to walk at own pace.
- The cost of this audio headset technology is borne by us and included in your ticket price.
- All this, and Dublin’s best tours!
- Here what we have coming up, for Public Tours – running on selected dates only, from 23rd June right through to the end of August 2021.
Dublin Castle, Ship St, Werburgh St. and Smock Alley: Books, Politics and Theatre in Georgian & Early-Modern Dublin
Learn about the first play ever staged in Dublin and the capital’s first two theatres, founded in the mid-1600s amid the intense, often fatal politics of the era. Plus old booksellers and former guild halls, with tantalizing glimpses of the medieval and early modern Dublin of narrow alleyways and vanished “courts”. We’ll discuss the legacy of Swift and Sheridan the theatre riots of the 1700s bitter, savage, literary rivalries and an accidental on-stage stabbing!
Come and explore the history, the politics and the literature of old Dublin on this remarkable tour with us, and learn how all three threads often intersected!
Our Dublin Castle to Smock Alley: Books, Politics and Theatre Tour takes place one moire time this summer, on Saturday 26 June at 11am. 3 Tickets remain at time of writing. Find them here.
Classic Highlights Walking Tour of the South City Centre: history and architecture
Let us walk and talk you through a thousand years of history, as well as a fantastic selection of Georgian and Victorian gems. We’ll explain and illuminate aspects of their architecture, all made highly accessible and enjoyable. This refreshingly brisk, yet brilliant guided walking tour – assisted by the live audio commentary in your audio headsets – takes you from elegant Stephen’s Green, down fascinating South William St, then along the procession of spectacular 18 th and 19 th century banks on College Green, then the whole way through Temple Bar, with its unique mix of historic and contemporary architecture, to the secrets of medieval Christ Church and Dublin Castle.
Fancy being a tourist in Dublin for a change? Try this two hours of sights, spectacle and fun-filled facts. We promise to add new i9nsight and fresh perspectives, to even the best known Dublin sights!
Our Classic Highlights Walking Tour of the South City Centre takes place one last time: on Wednesday 30 June at 5.30pm. Tickets for that dates here.
The Capel Street Quarter: Markets and Monasteries: Prisons and Courthouses.
One of the most fascinating, richly-layered historic parts of Dublin city centre, featuring once powerful medieval monasteries now vanished. We’ll use maps from the mid-1700s to see how their presence influences the street plan, street names and even the culture of Dublin right up to to the present day.
We’ll also see and discuss the historic marketplaces that dominated this area, including one 19 th century market building with unique, highly evocative decorative sculpture. Two former prisons feature on our tour, including a notorious “sponging house” (debtors’ prison) and we’ll conclude at a fine 18 th century courthouse that witnessed some of the most dramatic, bitter, and controversial trials in Irish history.
Our Capel Street Quarter Tour was old out but now has one additional new date: Saturday 10 July at 11am. Tickets here.
Glorious Georgian Grandeur.
An historic and architectural city walking tour, of the historic Gardiner Estate
From O’Connell St, to Mountjoy Square, via Parnell Sq, Black Church, Blessington Basin, the old Mater Hospital and St George’s Church, concluding at Mountjoy Square. The tour contains great detail on social and political history, as well as, of course, a host of outstanding architecture, described, interpreted and placed into context.
This brilliant tour takes place over three dates this summer:
Wednesday 14 th July at 2PM then Saturday 17 th July at 11AM then finally Saturday 14 August at 11.30AM. The ticket link to all those three dates is here.
From Patrick’s Park to Cork Street
Starting at the fountain in the park beside ancient Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, then featuring Blackpitts, Newmarket, Mill Street, the former St Luke’s Church and its old Almshouse, Cork Street and the Coombe. Explore neglect and regeneration, beautiful housing from the late 1800s, historic hospitals, industry from the medieval period though the 1600s and beyond, underground rivers, revolution and more.
Weavers, tanners, brewers and distillers trade and riches fire, poverty and rebellion all packed into this extraordinary quarter of Dublin’s famous Liberties.
Our Patrick’s Park to Cork Street Tour sold out quickly on previous dates, We have now added one final date for this summer a sociable, early evening tour, at FRIDAY 23rd JULY, at 5.30PM. Tickets may be found here.
Merrion Square and its area:
Mount St and the Pepper Canister Church, Merrion Square, (its planning and evolution, its houses, architecture and park) the great institutions of the western side, plus Fenian St, Westland Row and more. A brand new tour, showcasing and exploring in real detail Merrion Square: one of the stars of Dublin’s South Georgian Core.
This Merrion Square tour runs on Saturday 24 th July at 11AM and again on Wednesday 11 th August at the later time of 2PM. Tickets for both events may be found here.
A walk around Portobello: vanished infrastructure, artists and writers, and the Dublin Jewish experience
A relaxing yet fascinating early-evening walk around Portobello. We will mine the hidden, now forgotten history of this enigmatic Dublin district, including its former 18 th century walled estates, its vanished reservoir basin, former canal harbours, long-gone ornamental lakes and pleasure gardens and much more. Historic features discussed include links to everything from L.A’s Chinatown to the Beatles’ John Lennon, WWII Spies and Modernist legend James Joyce. Along our route we will consider the many other artists, writers and states people who have called the area home, and ponder history, infrastructure, and philanthropic housing, as well as its architectural, Jewish, political and architectural histories, all discussed by local resident and local historian Arran Henderson.
Portobello Tour tends to sell out quickly., We have now added one one more final date for this summer an early evening tour at FRIDAY, the 27th of AUGUST, at 5.30PM. Tickets here:
Around Dublin’s Medieval Walls and History
For centuries – since the time of the Vikings in the 9 th and 10 th century, through the years of the Anglo-Normans, the Early Modern period and up to their destruction in the late 1600s – the Medieval Walls of Dublin defended, delineated and defined the former ancient city. On this tour we trace their entire line around the ancient city core. This is one of our very favourite walks. We usually hand out maps too, so you can track the line of the walls in the modern street-scape, helping you locate the former city gates and watch towers. This is our type of treasure hunt! We also reckon it’s the best way to think about, discuss and to visualize Medieval Dublin.
We’ll use both maps and tell-tale signs in the modern street-scape, to locate the former walls, towers and gates that defended the city, as well as other long-lost medieval fabric, including vanished churches, monasteries and prisons. We’ll also treat the half-hidden, half visible walls as a kind of “story-line” to discuss the often traumatic events that marked the medieval history of Dublin including wars, rebellion, plague, a foreign invasion, a huge explosion and at least one vast, catastrophic fire that destroyed the entire western city.
If you haven’t done this walk with us before, join us! Please note this wonderful urban loop walk can take up to 2 hours given the distance covered. We believe it will be easy-going however, given that our new audio receiver sets allow guests to set their own pace.
New date added for Medieval Walls Walk on Saturday 21 AUGUST at 11am. Tickets HERE.
River and Canal: Harbours, Quays and Docks
The Port is Dublin’s heart and soul: its very raison d’etre. A walk along the quays and “campshires” gives us an opportunity to explore the rich seam of Dublin history. We’ll also take a good look at the superb architecture, sculpture, symbolism and intense politics of James Gandon’s great 18 th century Customs House. We’ll tackle the deep history and geography of the area, its land reclamations, its risks and perils, explore the dredging of the river and the shipping channel with technology designed by legendary Irish engineers.
We’ll then cross the river and make our way to the Grand Canal Docks to discuss the remarkable, unprecedented developments of the last 25 years here, as this former industrial area has become a centre for international finance and tech, while also driving the appearance of some superlative contemporary design, including key works by acclaimed Irish and International architects.
Our River and Canal: Harbours, Quays and Docks Tour runs on one more additional date: SATURDAY 28th AUGUST at 11.30AM. Tickets here.
To book any of these excursions, which still have availabilty, you can go two ways: you can either hit the ticket link after the relevant description above, or click on the Green Book Now button, at any time, then go to Public Tours.
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follow the menus to select Public Tour
then the individual tour route you want >
>then finally, the date that suits you best.
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Below, two or three nice pictures from some recent tours, including our Medieval Walls tour late summer 2019, in those easy-going, pre-Covid days before social distancing and before we starting using our hands-free audio kits.
The darker side to Dublin&rsquos history
The past was even worse than now. You can still see the wounds that history has inflicted on Dublin, Ciarán Behan tells me on a chilly evening stroll around the city.
Last year, Behan created the Dark Dublin walking route – a nerdy Goth cousin to the campy, theatrical ghost bus excursions. Dark Dublin focuses less on spooky spiels and more on historic mutilations, murder and madness. “There are no happy stories on this tour,” Behan says.
Starting in the Devil’s Half Acre – that is, the upper yard of Dublin Castle – Behan describes how the tortures and gruesome executions that took place there gave the place its nickname.
His voice echoes off the surrounding buildings, shaped by the colonial subjugation of the country, he says, as he describes with morbid physicality the practise of pitch-capping suspects during the 1798 rebellion. A hot tar mixture was poured over their heads and left to cool before being ripped off, often taking the victim’s scalp with it. Fatal eventually, if not immediately, in an age before antibiotics.
Dublin Castle was also the scene of the torture of Archbishop Dermot O’Hurley during the reign of Elizabeth I. In an attempt to get O’Hurley to renounce his religion, his tormentors strapped him into knee-high metal boots, which were filled with liquid and placed over a small fire, slowly cooking the flesh off his bones.
“Some of the records say that it happened over one, two or three days,” Behan says. “Despite suffering through that, he refused to give up his religion.” O’Hurley was later hanged.
Behan then moves on to Christ Church Cathedral, stopping on the way to talk about orgies and cannibals. He says that Christ Church was, for a time, the centre of Dublin’s debauchery. A pub was once run out of the cathedral’s crypts, and next to it stood the Maiden Tower, a brothel.
The story – part contemporaneous account, part later embellishment – was that the owner of the brothel, Darkey Kelly, was having an affair with a sheriff of Dublin called Luttrell and became pregnant. She named him as the father.
“One of the easier ways of getting rid of a woman at the time was to accuse her of being a witch,” Behan says. “They raided her brothel and found the bodies of five dead men. This leads to rumours that Kelly was Dublin’s first female serial killer.” Whatever the truth of the rumours, Kelly was burnt at the stake.
Walk past a nearby pub now bearing her name and onto Temple Bar’s Essex Street to arrive at the site of Ireland’s first elephant autopsy. It wasn’t planned, not really. Mr Wilkins, a businessman, kept the elephant as a paid attraction until an accident in 1681. “In the middle of the night, the cage that the elephant was in caught on fire,” Behan says. “The elephant was trapped and burnt.”
In an attempt to recoup both his losses and dispose of the body, he invited butchers to cut up the giant corpse, and invited spectators to observe (for a fee). A local doctor who watched the autopsy later published his notes as a book, complete with sketches of the dissection.
The grisly examples on Behan’s tour aren’t all in the distant past early last year, someone broke into St Michan’s Church on Arran Quay and stole an 800-year-old human skull.
Behan tells me about the skull’s owner, The Crusader, the name given to the unusually tall corpse. “The coffins were kind of one-size-fits-all, so rather than build him a new coffin, they just bent him in half. If that’s not bad enough, they used to actually let you shake hands with the mummy.”
While the crypt was vandalised and other corpses were damaged, the beheading of The Crusader and the whereabouts of its skull dominated headlines. Within weeks, the head was recovered and a man was arrested who later pleaded guilty to trespassing and committing theft.
“The building directly on the other side of the road is a police station,” Behan observes.
Outside the station, staring at you from a utility box, a permed man wrapped in shrouds holds a bowl of roses in one hand while his other veiny arm reaches toward you. The painting, an impressive stylised portrait under the words Billy in the Bowl, looks like a moody 1980s album cover. It’s not the graffiti marks the hunting grounds of the Stoneybatter Strangler, an 18th-century serial killer who dragged himself through the streets of Dublin in a wheeled tub.
“He would strangle women,” Behan says, recounting the story. “He’d cry out for help and the ladies would do the decent thing, hearing someone in distress. But when they got closer to the hedges and looked in to see who was calling, he’d sideswipe them and wrap his arms around them and steal whatever he could. This escalated into murder.”
At least, that’s the tale that’s been widespread in Dublin for more than 100 years. David Dickson, professor of modern history at Trinity College, and Anastasia Dukova, a historian and expert in early Irish policing, both say they haven’t encountered sources to back the story.
Behan’s plans to ramp up the number of walking tours in October were scuppered by the latest shadow cast on Dublin’s history: the lockdown caused by Covid-19. He has taken the tour online instead, and is hosting a Halloween special event exploring the origins of the holiday.