Dublin city layout

Dublin the city sprawls, but most of its sights are nicely compacted into a walkable area along the River Liffey.

Most of what will interest you lies south of the Liffey, except perhaps the Old Jameson Distillery and the literary sights around Parnell Square.

Note that Dublin streets change names every few blocks—which makes giving directions frustrating, but it all makes sense once you glance at a map.

Dublin's Neighborhoods: South of the Liffey

Trinity College & St. Stephen's Green

The heart of Dublin extends from the hallowed grounds of Trinity College, three blocks south of the River Liffey on the city center's eastern edge, down to St. Stephen's Green, which is something between a square and a gorgeous city park.

The Green lies about a 10-minute stroll south of Trinity along the umbilical of Grafton Street, Dublin's main pedestrian shopping drag connecting the main entrance to Trinity with the northwest corner of the green.

Between the eastern edges of those two neighborhood anchors lies the complex of huge buildings that house both the Irish government and the most interesting branches of the National Museums and National Library.

Just to east of all this lie several more verdant and elegant city spaces, including Georgian Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square.

Farther to the southeast is the fashionable embassy and hotel-filled neighborhood of Ballsbridge.

Temple Bar

From the traffic circle in front of Trinity College, College Green leads due west past the impressive Bank of Ireland building and becomes Dame Street.

Temple Bar, Dublin's always trendy, always fun, pub-, club-, and restaurant-filled district lies between Dame Street and the Liffey.

Temple Bar is connected to the north side of the Liffey by the slim, photogenic span of the Ha'penny Bridge.

Christ Church/Dublin Castle

Dame Street changes names regularly as it moves west into the oldest part of Dublin, where the Vikings first settled by the dubh linn, or "black pool," where the now-vanished River Poddle met the Liffey.

As Lord Edward Street, the boulevard passes City Hall and Dublin Castle before becoming Christ Church Place around Christ Church Cathedral, which lies near the western edge of the city center.

From Christ Church, Nicholas Street/Patrick Street leads south to St. Patrick's Cathedral.


Same main east-west boulevard; whole new set of names. Christ Church Place becomes High Street, then Cornmarket, then Thomas Street, then St. James's Street as you continue along a stiff, drab, increasingly industrial 15-minute walk west of Christ Church into the Liberties neighborhood.

Why do you continue walking? Because this is where they keep the Guinness Storehouse on a 50-acre campus of brewery buildings.

Continuing west, you'll pass the Irish Musuem of Modern Art en route to the War Memorial Gardens park.

Dublin's Neighborhoods: North of the Liffey

Four Courts

Back at Christ Church, continue along High Street, then veer right down Upper Bridge and Lower Bridge Streets to cross the River Liffey and you're in the legal-eagles neighborhood surrounding the somber judgement chambers of Four Courts.

This area notable for its preponderance of barristers but also for the mummies in St. Michan's Church and the whiskey at the Old Jameson Distillery.

Custom House

Just north of Trinity College, across the Liffey, is the most nautical corner of central Dublin around the massive Custom House building.

The main reason to trek across here is to stroll along the river on Custom House Quay ("quay" is pronounced "key" in Irish), past the gaunt statues of the Memorial to the Victims of the Famine, towards the masts of the replica 19th century famine ship the Jeannie Johnston to for an informative tour.

Parnell Square

Walk north from the entrance to Trinity College, across O'Connell Bridge, and you're on the broad main drag North of the Liffey called O'Connell Street, marked by statues and punctuated halfway along by the 120m (394-foot) tapering steel needle of The Spire.

O'Connell Street ends at Parnell Square, on the north end of which is a Garden of Remembrance and the Dublin Writer's Museum and Hugh Lane Gallery.

Just southeast of here, at the edge of Dublin's micro-Chinatown, is the James Joyce Centre.

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This article was by Reid Bramblett and last updated in September 2011.
All information was accurate at the time.

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Copyright © 1998–2013 by Reid Bramblett. Author: Reid Bramblett.