Learning from Dublin, Ireland

August 15, 2007 6 comments Open printer friendly version of this article Print Article

Metro Jacksonville's first European city comparison takes you to Dublin. Like Jacksonville, Dublin is split down the middle by a river. In Dublin's case, it is the River Liffey.

Ireland's largest city and capital, Dublin has some great examples of urbanism, with some buildings dating from 1,000 years before the automobile. However, that's not to say that the car has not had it's impact (in some cases a negative impact). In the latest edition of the Learning From series, Metro Jacksonville looks at the good and the bad from Dublin.


Dublin Population 2006: 506,211 (Dublin City); 1,187,176 (Metro - County Dublin) - (incorporated in 841)

Jacksonville Pop. 2006: 790,689 (City); 1,277,997 (Metro) - (incorporated in 1832)


The land on which present day Dublin sits had a settlement on it as early as the first century BC. It came into what we know as Dublin in 841. As the largest city in Ireland, it was the second largest city for hundreds of years in the British Empire (behind London), until Ireland's independence in 1922. Dublin is not without it's dark times (Europe's Black Death arrived in 1348, and had major outbreaks over the years until the last on in 1649).

Dublin is also home to the University of Dublin, Trinity College, founded in 1592 by Queen Elizabeth I, and is now the only one of the seven Ancient Universities (Oxford, Cambridge, St Andrews, Glasgow, Aberdeen, and Edinburgh are the others) located outside of the present day United Kingdom.

Dublin, like Jacksonville, went through a period from the 1960's to the early 1980's where they didn't really care about their history, and started playing with dynamite. However Dublin, unlike Jacksonville, realized the err of their ways, and in the 1980's went into preservation mode. Perhaps some day, we will realize the err of our ways.

In this aerial of Dublin, Trinity College is shown on the east side of the city (with a lot of greenspace, just east of Temple Bar, the last remaining portion of the city that maintains the original city street grid. Like Jacksonville, the city is divided down the middle (our St. Johns is their River Liffey).

Unlike Jacksonville, The River Liffey is a relatively narrow river where the river flows through the City Centre. It is spanned by 11 bridges in the City Centre, the first built in 1764, and the last built just two years ago.

Needless to say, the buildings in the City Centre address the street very well, and have survived the years pretty well. Dubliners do a good job of renovating older buildings, as seen above.

Where they have demolished buildings, they are now filling the voids with new urban infill projects.

One of the greatest aspects of Dublin is their transit (or "transport" as they call it). Shown above is the newest addition to Dublin Transport, the LUAS (which in Gaelic means "speed"). It's a light rail line that runs mostly on the streets and opened in 2004. Working in conjunction with LUAS is DART (Dublin Area Rapid Transit), a Heavy Rail system, and the Suburban Trains, a Commuter Rail System. Finally, if you need to travel longer distances (like to the other side of the Ireland island), there are trains to accomplish this as well.

They say they are trying to discourage driving into the City Centre, however we all wish Jacksonville would "discourage" downtown driving in this manner. Dublin features signs directing you to car parks (garages), and how many open spaces are available in each, along with the rates for each garage.

Dublin is not without pedestrian problems. Here is a problem that was brought on by the automobile. This is four separate crosswalks, just to cross one street where a couple of different roads come together. The worst part is that the crosswalks are not timed together, so it's a bit like playing frogger with the cars coming from the wrong direction. It took three full light cycles to get through this.

This is one building Dubliner's probably wish they never built. This was built for the Bank of Ireland in 1971 (did I really have to tell you the year?). A couple oflocalsreferred to it as a multi story car park. You have to wonder, what was here before this? What was dynamited to build this crap?

A Visit to Dublin is never complete without a stop for a Pint at one of Dublin's MANY pubs (the Irish make us look like lightweights). However, the trip can't be complete without visiting the birthplace of many of those pints, the Guinness Factory. Located at the historic site of St James Gate (part of the ancient city walls), the tour is located in an old Guinness Storehouse (warehouse), and is a must see.

Founded in 1592, Trinity College Dublin is one of the Seven Ancient English Colleges. Situated on the east side of the City Centre, The campus is located near Temple Bar (below)

Temple Bar is the last area of the city to maintain the ancient city street grid. Most streets are pedestrian only now (they were developed long before the automobile), and is now a dining and nightlife hotspot.

On the North side of the river, the main road is O'Connell Street, a very wide Boulevard for Cars and Pedestrians. There are three sidewalks on this road (one on either side, and one down the center. The lighting on this road is provided through inset lighting built into the sidewalk.

This is the Spire of Dublin, which was completed in 2003. It was originally supposed to be completed in 2000 for the new millennium, and was commissioned during the revitalization of O'Connell Street in the 1990's. However, not all Dubliner's liked the design, giving it various nicknames such as "The Stiffy by the Liffey".

Intersecting O'Connell Street is Henry Street, a pedestrian only shopping street. This street is adjacent to the LUAS (the light rail system), and is the major shopping street on the North side of the river (Grafton Street is its counterpart on the South Side).

Despite it's age, Dublin does have new development. The rendering aboveis of one of the largest, Heuston South Quarter. Located on the southern side of the city, near Heuston Station (a historic train station still in use today), this development will feature office space, residential, retail, and a hotel, and will also include the new headquarters for Eircom (Ireland's equivalent of AT&T). For more information, check out the link here: http://www.hsq.ie