Dublin is a small city divided by the River Liffey. Once it divided Viking from Celt and Norman from Norse. It offers a wealth of attractions which makes it Europe's fifth most visited city and is riding the wave of an economic boom. The ancient city has three rivers above-ground and three underground, converging and flowing into the Irish Sea.
Dublin has churned out some wonderful writers. Jonathan Swift wrote Gulliver's Travels there and became Dean of St Patrick's in 1713. Bram Stoker, who wrote Dracula, was born there in 1847, Oscar Wilde, Samuel Beckett and William Butler Yeats were all Dubliners. Every June 16 is Bloomsday when James Joyce's Ulysses is celebrated with lectures, walks and talks in pubs not just in Dublin but worldwide.
Grafton Street is the main shopping thoroughfare. It runs from Trinity College to the glass-covered St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre and is closed to traffic. It is busy every hour of every day with British and American department stores, chain stores and buskers providing musical accompaniment. Souvenirs are everywhere famous Aran knitwear and Waterford crystal and any number of items with shamrocks or the Guinness insignia. Avoca Handweavers has been around since 1723 and the five storey shop is stocked with clothing, candles, homewares and great children's gifts.
Narrow lanes running off Grafton Street have small independent clothing, cosmetics, jewellery, antiques and silverware boutiques. Kevin and Seamus Sheridan's Cheese Mongers has been leading the charge in turning around the perceptions of Irish food and the brothers are rightly proud of their fine products.
Trinity College is Ireland's oldest university. It was founded by Queen Elizabeth I in 1592 and sits on 16 hectares in the heart of the city. It has cobbled squares, gardens and parks and is guardian of many precious items, including the Book of Kells which was written around 800 AD. The beautifully illuminated manuscript was given to the college in the 17th century.
The Ha'penny Bridge is a pedestrian crossing linking Temple Bar and Liffey Street. The metal bridge opened in 1816 and a halfpenny was charged to use it. That toll was scrapped in 1919 but the name stuck and today thousands of people use it every day.
Accommodation choices are huge and the Litton Lane Hostel in Dublin's hostel heart is comfortable, clean and friendly and has an interesting history. It was once a recording and dance studio and has been used by the likes of Sinead O'Connor, The Corrs, Van Morrison, U2, the Cranberries, David Bowie and Kate Bush. Now it is divided into twin and double rooms, 10 self-catering apartments and 12 dormitories.