Ireland: What is it famous for?
Ireland is situated on the western edge of Europe. It is an island of great beauty with rugged mountains, blue lakes, ancient castles, long sandy beaches and picturesque harbours. The climate is mild and temperate throughout the year.
Over the past two decades, Ireland has become one of the top destinations for English language learning – more than 100,000 visitors come to Ireland every year to study English. This is thanks to Dublin’s defining characteristics of bestowing a warm friendly welcome on overseas visitors, an international literary reputation and the fastest growing economy in Europe. One quarter of Ireland’s population is under 25 years of age and Dublin acts as a magnet for young people looking for quality education. It has a population of 1.5 million and is famous for its lively friendly atmosphere and vibrant social and cultural life. Ireland enjoys one of the cleanest environments in Europe. Its unspoilt countryside provides an excellent setting for leisure pursuits such as hiking, cycling, golfing and horse-riding.
The Irish are relaxed, friendly, spontaneous, hospitable people and have a great love of conversation. So, there is no better way of learning a language than to learn it in the country where it is spoken.
Dublin sits in a vast natural harbour. It is bisected by the River Liffey which flows through the city and out into Dublin Bay. Such a sheltered harbour would have appealed to the first settlers 5,000 years ago and traces of their culture have been found scattered around Dublin and its coast. But it was not until the Vikings came sailing down the coast in the mid 9-th century that Dublin became an important town. Next to arrive were the Anglo-Norman adventurers. This was the beginning of the long process of colonisation that would dictate the terms of Ireland’s development over the next seven hundred years. The Anglo-Normans replaced the Viking town of Dublin with a medieval walled city. To prevent the Anglo-Normans growing too independent of the English crown, Henry II established a court in Dublin and the city became the centre in Ireland.
By the 18th century the city was booming. A period of relative stability and, consequently, prosperity set in.
After 1800 and the Act of Union, which dissolved the Irish parliament, Dublin fell on hard times. Many of the Protestant Anglo-Irish ruling class left for London. The Georgian splendour they left behind decayed.
The fight for Irish independence and a Civil War in 1922 took their toll on Dublin’s streets, and many important buildings were scarred by fighting.
In the late 1980s a new awareness of the city’s architectural strengths appeared alongside a period of economic growth, and an effort to restore rather than demolish Dublin’s Georgian heritage has since been made.
The Dublin Bay that attracted successive waves of invaders is difficult to discern now. The city sustains a population of over one million people. Dublin city is changing fast and the speed of that change is partly fuelled by its youthful population – over 50 percent are under the age of twenty-five and that makes the city come alive. Today Dublin is a city full of charm with a vigorous cultural life, small enough to be friendly, yet cosmopolitan in outlook. This is the culture where the heritage of ancient days brings past and present together.
Dublin is, of course, renowned as a city of writers. At the Dublin Writers’ Museum you can discover more about the three Dublin-born Irish winners of the Nobel Prize for Literature, WB Yeats, Samuel Beckett and George Bernard Shaw, among many other literary greats.
Dublin is also proud of its rich theatrical tradition and boasts many theatres. Music lies at the soul of the city from large venues such as The National Concert Hall to the more intimate pub scene; Irish traditional music has experienced a huge revival and can be heard in some pubs in the evening. Dublin’s rock and modern music scene has always been alive with new and upcoming bands, and in recent years the city has nurtured such worldwide talents as U2 and The Frames.
The National Gallery on Merrion Square is the Home to the famous Caravaggio painting, “The Taking of Christ”. The gallery also houses works by many Irish artists.
In general, cultural life of Dublin is very rich and you can enjoy visiting different museums, art galleries and exhibitions.
National Concert Hall
But for those looking for peace and quiet there are two public parks in the centre of the city: St. Stephen’s Green and Merrion Square. In Merrion Square the intriguing, multi-coloured statue of Oscar Wilde looks across to the house where he grew up. The large Phoenix Park in the northwest of the city is home to Dublin’s Zoo with its wonderful African Plains. To enjoy the River Liffey, and some of the city’s finest buildings, you can take a stroll along the boardwalk.
When it comes to leisure, everything is possible in Dublin and it all depends what your interests are. The city centre has several great shopping areas depending on your budget as well as numerous parks and green areas for relaxing in. As most people know, Dublin has a vibrant pub and restaurant life and there is always music and laughter to be had at anytime of the day or night. Dublin city is full of historical monuments, buildings, churches and cathedrals and is a city steeped in history.
One of the great features of Dublin is that it is extremely easy to leave the city and venture out into the countryside for fresh air, walks and a slower pace of life. The city centre is also on the coast and has many small coastal towns nearby for afternoon excursions. Dublin is also a sports-mad city and whether you are playing or watching, it has everything for the sports enthusiast.