In the thousand years of its history, Dublin has been known for many different things. The hard thing for me as a local guide is often to pin down exactly what makes the city so famous. There are many unique things about Dublin, but I have found that there are some things visitors notice more than others.
Dublin is the capital city of Ireland and is famous for the friendliness and warmth of its people. The local culture of good humor mixed with repartee and fun is known as the craic (crack). With a strong literary tradition, the poverty of 100 years ago has been replaced with a thriving economy.
Often known as the “fair city”, there is a rich and varied history to Dublin. It has gone through various stages of wealth and poverty in the last couple of hundred years. This unique story has created a singular place that offers an experience impossible to replicate anywhere else.
What Dublin is Famous For
One of the first things people will say when asked this question is “Guinness”, and that is not far from the truth. Arthur Guinness founded his company in Dublin in the year 1759. At this time Dublin was the second city of the British Empire and the economy was booming.
Today most of the major built heritage sites in Dublin are those that were constructed during the Georgian period in the 1700’s. With the increase in wealth to the city, it started to take the shape that it now has. The River Liffey was walled off and the two canals were also constructed.
During the 1800’s, the city declined along with the rest of Ireland as a result of the Great Hunger. While this event made Dublin’s population soar, many of the recent immigrants from the countryside were destitute and lived in old Georgian buildings, most of which became tenements by 1900.
In the last generation or two however, the fortunes of Dublin seem to have changed again. The city is very much on the up and while there is a housing crisis, the economy has dramatically risen in recent decades. This is in part due to the influx of multinational companies in the tech and pharmaceutical sectors and also Ireland’s membership of the European Union.
This unique history has led to the famous culture and atmosphere that Dublin has. This is what the city is really famous for and while there are many different ways to experience it, the best one is to talk to the locals and “have the craic”.
The People of Dublin
The people of Dublin, also known as “Dubliners”, have long had a reputation for being friendly and welcoming, with a great sense of humor. This culture of “having the craic” can be intimidating at first and the casualness with which people trade insults can often be misread, but it is usually meant to endear and welcome people into social situations.
Dublin’s history of poverty is the source of the welcoming nature of the local people. With fewer resources to spare, an egalitarian culture of sharing developed. The influx of migrants from the Irish countryside after the Great Famine also contributed to the unique and eclectic local dialect.
With the recent and dramatic change in the economic fortunes of the city, its demographics have also changed. Especially in the city center, you will find a cosmopolitan population from many different cultural backgrounds. Dublin had its first mayor of Asian decent, Hazel Chu, in 2020.
Dublin’s Literary Tradition
Dublin is a UNESCO city of literature. Many famous writers from a variety of genres and styles have come from this city. A few of Dublin’s more famous writers are as follows:
- Johnathan Swift.
- Oscar Wilde.
- James Joyce.
- Brendan Behan.
- Meave Binchy.
This proud literary tradition is still alive all throughout Ireland and there are many great museums dedicated to this heritage in the city. The Dublin Writer’s Museum and the James Joyce Centre are just two of the many places where you can enthrall yourself with some of Dublin’s writers.
Possibly the most famous of the city’s writers is the Nobel Prize winning James Joyce. 100 years ago, he published the (in)famous Ulysses, which may be the most purchased novel in history…. that is also the least read!
Set in Dublin on the 16th of June in the year 1904, the book mainly follows the adventures of Leopold Bloom as he makes his way through the city. The writing is so descriptive of the Dublin of the time, it is said that you could rebuild the city from the pages of Ulysses.
Every year on the 16th of June, the city celebrates “Bloomsday“. This is where people dress the way they did when the story was set and follow the route the character takes. Usually, they fail though as this event tends to be a bit more “craic” than many anticipate!
Pub Culture in Dublin
Many people come from all over the world to experience the famous pub culture in Dublin. While there are certainly many places to go, there are probably too many pubs in the city to visit all of them in just one lifetime. It is better to know what you’re doing!
Visiting a pub, or “public house”, is one of the main places of socialization for both locals and visitors to Dublin. Though Guinness is the most popular drink served in Ireland, it is becoming increasingly common to find a greater variety of drinks on offer, including non-alcoholic beverages.
There are plenty of amazing brand new pubs in the city, but most are more than 200 years old. In places like these it will usually be difficult to find a screen unless there is a major sporting event on.
With consistency, you will only really find 2 things in a good Dublin pub; good conversation and good drinks!
The 10 Most Famous Attractions in Dublin
There are plenty of famous landmarks throughout the city, but some are obviously more famous than others. This list is far from complete, but just a sense of the main landmarks I think are important in the city center, as a local.
Here are the 10 most famous landmarks in Dublin:
- The Guinness Storehouse.
- Trinity College and the Book of Kells.
- The Molly Malone Statue.
- Grafton Street.
- The River Liffey.
- O’Connell Street and the Spire.
- The GPO.
- Kilmainham Gaol.
- The Pheonix Park.