A walking tour of the south side of the Liffey,Dublin

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October 23rd 2013
Published: October 24th 2013
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The BBA V2 so far...Europe & UK

Our prayers have been answered, the sun is shining in Dublin and the forecast for the day is for dry conditions! So we should get to experience our planned walk around the sights on the southern side of the Liffey without raincoats. The Liffey by the way is the river that runs through the centre of the city.

Although we are our near the airport and about 10km from the city centre there is a very good public bus service from Swords every 15 minutes and a bus stop just across the way from the Travelodge.

With the plan to be out for 4 or 5 hours today we left heading into the city until late morning.

We have ridden a double decker bus once already on the BBA V2 (this is a bit of a novelty for us Kiwis on tour as we don’t have these types of buses in NZ) and that was getting to and from the football in Leeds. This time we chose the front seats upstairs from where you get a wide view of the scenery and also more ‘sensation’ as you turn corners or pull up behind cyclists and cars in front of the bus. The driver we had must have been colour blind too as he ‘ran’ the first two sets of traffic lights we came to before he turned off to the short detour the route takes to the airport. This all added to the interest we had in being in the upstairs front seats.

The ride got a bit more adventurous as we got closer to town where trees overhung the road. Thankfully the local authorities had trimmed the underside of the trees to just the right level and all we got was the occasional swish of the odd branch that stuck out too far as the bus bumped its way along in the narrow bus lane. What did perturb us more though was the small cars that were in front of us from time to time that disappeared from our view as the bus pulled up right on their bumper at traffic lights. Mind you that is not to say that we didn’t experience the same situation with buses on our tail a couple of times when we drove the same route to the hotel yesterday when we arrived in Dublin.

The bus stopped conveniently in O’Connell Street, right in the centre of the city, and we got ourselves across the O’Connell Bridge to the south side of the Liffey to start our walk.

Trinity College which was established by Elizabeth the First in 1592 is ranked amongst the most highly respected Universities in the world and this was the first of the featured buildings we were going to pass.

Turning into lower Grafton Street we came across the 1988 bronze statue of the fictional character Molly Malone whose history dates back to the 17th century. The song that represents her life has been sung by a wide range of different recording artists around the world and would have to be one of the most well known Irish songs. You have to juggle for a spot to get her photograph as all tourists passing by want a photo posed with her.

Walking up Grafton Street we came across 5 people who were doing that statue thing for people to take their photos and give them a donation of money. We have never seen 5 people grouped together like this before and they were doing a great job.

Grafton Street is a pleasant pedestrian mall with all the usual big brand shops and a three story shopping arcade where we stopped for lunch. We were served by a guy from Bangladesh who was interested to know where we were from and we got into a brief discussion about whether the Black Caps might get the better of Bangladesh in the second cricket test.

Dublin has some lovely green spaces and we strolled through St Stephens Green Park which was a quiet haven away from the surrounding bustling streets with its water feature and diagonal paths. An interesting statue on the far side from where we entered was entitled ‘Three Fates’ and was given by the German people in appreciation of the Irish help to refugees from Germany after the second world war ended. Again just a reminder that Ireland is and has been independent from the UK for some time and did not fight formally on the side of the Allies in WW2.

We moved onto the nearby and smaller green square called Merrion Square where there was a memorial to ‘The Unknown Soldier’ commemorating The Irish involvement in conflicts in other parts of the world. There was also a memorial to Oscar Wilde who was born and lived in Dublin in his early years including a period of study at Trinity College.

Leaving the park we walked on further to the Grand Canal which heads west from the River Liffey and joins up with the River Shannon which we came across in Athlone. It didn’t look like the canal gets a lot of use, at least in Dublin, today.

As we reached the River Liffey we caught a glimpse of the revamped rugby stadium of Lansdowne Road Park in the near distance where the All Blacks will be playing Ireland in a few weeks time. Our restricted view was similar to that we had of the Stade de France we had during our short walk around St Denis before we left Paris all those weeks ago.

The area where the Grand Canal left the Liffey River had been redeveloped in recent times and we got the distinct impression that the place was now looking much smarter than it would have before the new buildings went up.

Walking along the various quay’s that run into each other as you proceed along the banks of the Liffey we came across the memorial to a Constable Sheahan who died under tragic circumstances in 1905 trying to save men in the sewer below the road having been overcome by deadly gas.

On the other side of the river is a tall structure that you can see from up and down the river which appeared to recognise the importance of the unions although we couldn’t find anything official about it in the literature we had.

With the last of our stops just ahead of us we walked through the Temple Bar area which is the nightclub and bar area of Dublin and one could see that this place would really hum at night.

Taking a left hand turn at Christ Church Cathedral where Handel’s Messiah was first performed in 1742 we walked down Patrick Street to St Patricks Cathedral reputed to be the site of St Patricks Holy Well where Saint Patrick is said to have baptised converts to Christianity in the well that was said to exist in the park alongside the church. There has been a church on the site since the 5th century with the building that is there today from the early 13th century. Jonathan Swift who wrote Gulliver’s Travels was Dean at the church between 1713-1745 is buried there and has a corner of the church devoted to his history while being Dean.

Returning to Patrick Street we walked back to the Liffey and crossed over to walk back to the bus stop for home just off O’Connell Street.

Again Gretchen headed up the stairs to the upper level of the bus and this time the only front seat left was on the left hand side which meant we were ‘dodging’ oncoming trees and signs on the pavement as the bus drove up the narrow bus lane.

We put our feet up and had a cup of tea when we got home as we had walked many kilometres today to complete the tour of the highlights of the southern side of the Liffey.

The weather had stayed fine and dry and once we had recovered and had our pre dinner Guinness we set out to the main street of Swords to find a pub for dinner. The first pub we came to, The Mayors Table, looked like it would suit us and their menu was varied and at the right price.

Tomorrow we will take on Dublin on the northern side of the Liffey and end the day with a self guided tour of the Guinness Storehouse and see what the beer we have been drinking for the last 8 days is all about.

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