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Dublin Neighborhoods

Dublin’s neighborhoods are flanked by two canals bordering the city: the Royal Canal on the north side and the Grand Canal on the south side (“real Dubliners” are said to be born between the two). It’s easy to walk from canal to canal or to get anywhere in Dublin…or use the convenient and rentable city bikes. The other, and most would say more important psychological divide, is the great north-south line; the city is divided neatly by the Liffey River (you can cross it on some twenty bridges). A healthy rivalry exists between residents of both sides with northsiders stereotypically classed as less sophisticated but down-to-earth compared with the more genteel but snobbish southsiders. Cross the Liffey and make up your own mind. In any case, most of the city’s attractions are concentrated on the south side.

Temple Bar  

The cobblestoned, medieval area between Dame Street and the Liffey, known as Temple Bar, evolved from being a bohemian low-rent alternative quarter in the 1980s to a Dublin neighborhood that has become one of the city’s biggest tourist draws. With bars and restaurants (full of bachelor parties) on every corner some might argue that the area has been overdeveloped. It still retains much of its offbeat charm and historic signature.

St Stephen’s Green

A marshy common for grazing until 1663, this central Dublin park is a popular place for city workers to go for a lunchtime escape from neighboring officeland, otherwise known as Leeson and Baggot streets. Designed around a formal garden, it’s home to one of the best herbaceous hedges in the country (by the Leeson Street entrance) and a garden for the blind where plants are identified in Braille. A central Dublin shopping street, Grafton Street, connects the Green and Trinity College and east of it find the classical Georgian squares: Merrion and Fitzwilliam Square. You’ll see the National Museum and National Gallery in this area.

Camden and Wexford streets

The route from Portobello Bridge into town takes you through Camden and Wexford streets, a hip quarter of quirky Dublin shopping boutiques, cafes and restaurants. They’re not particularly pretty streets but that’s part of the area’s ungentrified appeal. The music venues Whelan’s and the Village are on this stretch and so are cool dive bars, such as the George Bernard Shaw and Anseo (which means “here” in Gaelic).

Portobello

The Dublin neighborhood area between Portobello and Harold’s Cross bridges, north of the Grand Canal, known as Portobello (or beautiful harbor), is aptly named for its comely surrounds. Full of little streets of pretty Victorian redbrick terraced houses and villas, it became Dublin’s Jewish Quarter after an influx of Jewish people settled there in the late 19th century. Mostly young and upwardly mobile Dubliners now populate the area, but you can find the Irish Jewish Museum there and a nearby kosher bakery as odes to its more ethnic past.

Smithfield

The big cobbled warehouse-flanked Smithfield Square, behind the Four Courts, on the north side of the city is probably best known for the great lawless horse fair that has been happening on the first Sunday of the month since the 17th century. The area has been earmarked for regeneration for years and though a few new apartment blocks (and the excellent indie Lighthouse Cinema) have appeared, it never, thankfully, became the shiny commercial hub that was promised.

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