It is always important to have an understanding and an appreciation of the history before you go traveling. Otherwise you may lose out on something that might interest you, or you lost interest in sightseeing. Here is StayPlanet’s guide to the historical significance of some attractions in Dublin. It is now 2016, 100 years after the 1916 rising, which lends huge significance to some of Dublin’s attractions.
First on our list may be a bit of an eyesore, but it holds cultural and historical meaning that should be appreciated (otherwise it is just a big, meaningless pin). Up until 1966, fifty years after the 1916 rising, Nelson’s pillar stood there. For many, this was a sign of British rule and oppression. It was early March of 1966 when the pillar exploded. It is said that a member of the IRA placed a bomb there on a timer to go off late in the night. No one was injured, and the pillar was never refurbished after that.
This site stood empty for decades, until the Spire, or Monument of Light (An Túr Solais), was placed there in 2002. The Spire was built in order to redesign O’Connell street, which had been in decline for decades. The design was to be a mix of technology and art.
Completed in 1818, this building has stood for nearly two hundred years of history, and it has been a centerpiece for some of the most important Irish History. The GPO was a centerpiece for the 1916 rising, as the rebels used it as their headquarters. The building was bombarded by gun fire, and most of the building was destroyed then. This was mainly due to the Helga gunboat anchored in the river Liffey. The only remaining feature of the original build is the facade. Following heavy bombardment for five days and nights, the rebels pulled back to Moore Street.
Moore street has been synonymous with ‘authentic’ Dublin for the past few decades, where you could go down to the stalls for fresh produce. Nowadays, it is in disarray, where big supermarkets such as Tesco have taken a lot of their business. Now there is a very diverse community, with the authentic Northsiders side-by-side with oriental and eastern European markets. However, there is more to its history than the market stalls. This was the location of the rebels’ last stand during the Rising. They burrowed through the walls of the houses there to avoid capture, and eventually threw up the white flag, officially ending the rebellion. The buildings there are now a matter of contention, due to many protests to have some of the historical buildings demolished. The works on those buildings have been protested so that they could not open for the 1916 commemorations this year.
Another site that is central to the 1916 rising is Kilmainham Jail. This is where 14 of the rebels were executed by firing squad. Up until this, the rebels were seen as little more than troublemakers. It was not the dominant narrative of the time to be overly against the crown. They could well have been forgetting a cell for the remainder of their lives, and the rising could have been in vain. So, when the British needlessly executed the rebels, they were turned into martyrs, which caused a turn in the tide for the Irish Free State.
Unfortunately, Temple Bar has a history that is not presented to tourists. When you come to Dublin, Temple Bar is touted as the cultural quarter of the city. You can go and see buskers, eat at overpriced restaurants, and maybe visit the Irish Film Institute. However, the creation of Temple Bar was a shady business.
Interestingly, in the 18th century it was the center for prostitution in Dublin. However, due to it’s location, on the river Liffey, it quickly became a prominent area for sea-trade. This lasted less than a century, and by the mid 19th century the area was in disrepair. There were many derelict factories and buildings, and in the 1980s a lot of land was bought up by CIE. Their initial plans were abandoned, and they began to let out properties. Due to low rent prices, it attracted artistic and bohemian types. Thus, the cultural quarter was created.
Then in 1991, the Irish government got involved with the Temple Bar act. This act seen a flurry of hotels, businesses, retail outlets, and apartments open in the area, after a physical regeneration. However, due to this influx of investment and gentrification of the area, the original artists and start up businesses there were driven out. This was because of a rise in the cost of capital and rent prices going up.
What we are left with today is a tourist trap that has dozens of retail outlets, eateries, McDonalds, and multiple overprices pubs. Temple Bar buskers are now facing another issue: the banning of amplifiers there. This will mean the end of any serious busking in the area.
We at StayPlanet hope that you have learned a thing or two ahead of your visit to Dublin, and if you still need to book accommodation, then head over to our website for a wide selection of property types.
By Daniel from StayPlanet