County Dublin (Irish: Contae Bhaile Átha Cliath) is a historic county surrounding Dublin city in the Republic of Ireland. It was abolished as an administrative or political unit in 1994, with its territory allocated to three new counties. Nevertheless it still coheres as a destination for travellers, in two ways: for the city to escape to the surrounds, eg to the seaside at Howth or the races at Leopardstown; and for visitors to stay here and day-trip into Dublin while avoiding the city's congestion and high prices.
Cities and towns
The former county now comprises the City of Dublin, the County of Fingal to the north, South County to the south-west and Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County on the south coast.
- 1 Dublin, Ireland's capital city, is a wonderful destination, packed with top museums, galleries, eating places . . . why even the jail is a must-see, as the nation's revolutionary patriots were to discover.
County Fingal lies to the north of the city.
- 2 Swords is centre of this new county. Dublin Airport is here.
- 3 Malahide is on the coast just east of Swords. It extends south into the beach resort of Portmarnock.
- 4 Howth is a seaside resort; just offshore is the uninhabited Ireland's Eye.
- 5 Rush is a small commuter town.
- 6 Lusk is a small town with a notable church, round tower and (amazingly) a vineyard.
- 7 Skerries is a former fishing village, now a commuter town.
- 8 Balbriggan is at the north end of the county near to Drogheda.
South County is actually to the south-west; it's modern commuterland (eg around Tallaght) and lacks historic townships and visitor attractions.
Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County to the south has:
- 9 Dún Laoghaire is the former port, now a quiet seaside town with a large marina.
- 10 Dalkey has Italian-style villas and a couple of Norman turrets, plus boat trips to Dalkey Island.
- 1 University College Dublin (UCD) is a "city-within-a-city" on Belfield Campus.
The city and county have a mild climate moderated by the Atlantic, so they are year-round destinations. It seldom snows or freezes hard nowadays, though winter Nov-Feb sees overnight frosts. Summers are cool, around 19°C (66°F) in July and August. The area is not particularly wet - its average annual rainfall of 732.7mm (28.8 in) is less than London - but light showers are frequent. It's glorious when the sun shines but unless at some point in your trip you've spent 15 minutes sheltering under a shop awning on Grafton Street with cold rain dripping down your neck, wondering if it's too early to go the pub, you haven't really experienced Dublin.
|Climate chart (explanation)|
1 Dublin Airport is 10 km north of downtown Dublin, and has excellent connections across Europe and to North America. It's within the town of Swords near the M1 / M50 junction, so it's accessible for all road routes across Ireland, and many inter-city buses run to the airport.
Dublin Port has frequent ferries from Liverpool, Holyhead on Anglesey Wales, and the Isle of Man. Ferries from Fishguard in Wales and Cherbourg in Normandy sail to Rosslare, with train connections to Dublin. The former port at Dún Laoghaire is no longer used. For touring the north, another ferry connection is from Cairnryan near Stranraer in Scotland to Belfast then drive or bus south.
Trains from all over Ireland converge on Dublin, some making edge-of-city stops so you may not have to go into central Dublin then travel out again. Trains from Sligo, Belfast, Drogheda and the coast south to Rosslare come into Connolly Station north of the river; most local trains across County Dublin also come here. All other long-distance trains (eg from Cork, Limerick & Galway) come into Heuston 3 km west of the centre. Allow 45 mins if you need to change stations, and get a ticket made out for Dublin city centre so the tram ride from Heuston is included.
See Dublin for transport options including the Leap Card, valid for buses and DART trains across the county. Trains within this fare zone run from Dublin Connolly south along the coast to Dún Laoghaire, Greystones and Kilcoole, north along the coast to Howth, Malahide and Balbriggan, and inland to Drumcondra, Maynooth and Kilcock; and from Dublin Heuston they run west to Sallins and Naas.
Car rental: Dublin Airport has the best choice and rates. That's wrong side of the city for the south, so a city-centre rental might work better.
- Castles ranging from the grand (Dublin), rich (Malahide; perhaps Howth whenever it reopens) and scrappy (Swords, and Bremore in Balbriggan). Plus various mock-castellations, stumpy little turrets and redoubts, and the coast is dotted with Martello Towers, built within sight of each other.
- Killiney — Climb Killiney Hill and see grand views out around the bay and to Dalkey Island.
- Blackrock — Walk along the strand, visit the famed Blackrock market, a flea market open on weekends and bank holidays, and have a drink at O'Rourke's, the old haunt of the Irish author Flann O'Brien. Reach it by the DART and the 4, 4A, 5, 45, 7, and 8 buses.
- Flavours of Fingal agricultural show and food & drink fair is held annually at the end of June at Newbridge House & Farm, Donabate north of Swords.
- Flower shows are held across the county mid-July through August, various venues.
- Boat trips to the little islands nearby: Dalkey Island, Ireland's Eye off Howth, and Lambay Island off Skerries. You can also take a boat cruise between Howth and Dún Laoghaire.
- Go to the races at Leopardstown, in the southern suburbs of Dublin. It has meetings all year, flat-racing in summer and jumps ("National Hunt") in winter.
- St Patrick's Day is celebrated worldwide and especially here; it's always on 17 March whenever that falls in the week. In 2021 it's Wed 17 March. Many towns around the county will have parades, and in Dublin there will be a 4-day event.
The county has many popular resturants and pubs.
- Dublin's Temple Bar is very touristy, with raucous hen parties staggering along the cobbles. Go a quarter mile further south or west to find pubs of real character and distinction.
- Guinness is a Marmite thing, you like it or you don't, and there's no shame in not liking. Lots of other quality craft beers to try.
- South is County Wicklow, with Powerscourt House and Gardens, and a waterfall cascading from the Wicklow mountains.
- North is County Meath, with Drogheda, the Boyne valley, and the Newgrange Stone Age tombs.
- West is County Kildare, lowland country for fishing and horse-riding.