History of Dublin

As one would expect, the history of Dublin is inextricably linked to the political history of Ireland.

Although the place is mentioned as Eblana on Ptolemy's world map of 140 AD, the history of Dublin really starts with the first Viking invasion in the 10th century. The invaders adopted the Irish name of the dark waters near which they settled on the southern bank of the river Liffey. Dublin comes from 'Dubh Linn', literally meaning 'Black Pool'.  Their town later merged with an existing Irish settlement on the northern bank of the river, Baile Átha Cliath, 'the town of the hurdles', which today remains the name of the city in Irish.

The 12th century saw the first real cultural colonisation by the Anglo-Normans, led by the opportunistic Richard de Clare, famously known as Strongbow. Fearing that his barons would become too powerful and independent, Henry II, King of England, established Dublin as the centre of British influence in Ireland. Not much survived from this medieval Dublin, apart from the narrow street layout of Temple Bar and some parts of the original stone cathedral of Christ Church.

Much of what visitors can see today dates from the Georgian period. Under protestant ascendency, 18th century Dublin entered an economical and cultural golden age. In this period, political protestant freedom culminated with the 1782 Declaration of Rights by Henry Grattan's Irish Parliament, which aimed at declaring political (Protestant Anglo-Irish) independence. However, the British government put an end to these aspirations through the Act of Union in 1801.

The rise of Catholic emancipation followed in the 19th century. It was led by a Catholic lawyer from Co. Kerry, Daniel O'Connell, who eventually became Lord Mayor of Dublin. His statue sits at the junction between O'Connell Bridge and O'Connell Street, the main street of the Irish capital city. At the end of the 19th century, there was also a Celtic literary revival, which was at the origin of the foundation of the Abbey Theatre in Abbey Street, by William Butler Yeats and Lady Gregory in 1904.

Irish independence was achieved in the 20th century. Seizing the opportunity of the first World War, various factions joined in an insurrection during the week of Easter 1916, aiming at establishing the Irish Republic. Known as Easter Rising, the insurrection was quickly repelled by British troops, who bombarded the rebel positions. The HQ rebel garrison was stationed at the General Post Office (GPO) on O'Connell Street, where an original copy of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic is now on permanent display.

Although Easter Rising was a fierce military defeat, it was quickly followed by the War of Independence and by the Irish Civil War, which led to the partition of Ireland (3 May 1921), the creation of the Irish Free State (6 December 1922) and eventually, to the Constitution of the Republic of Ireland (29 December 1937).

Since then, Dublin has witnessed many changes. The young Republic was eager to leave its colonial past behind, so many Georgian parts of the city were demolished or left to decay until the mid-1980s, when city planners enforced new and more careful conservation policies. The millennium saw a second golden age of Dublin through the Celtic Tiger years. This period of economic wealth brought a new multicultural element to the city.

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