10 Interesting Facts About Dublin

James

Interesting Facts About Dublin
Interesting Facts About Dublin

Dublin derives its name from the Irish Dubh Linn, meaning “black pool”, referring to a dark muddy pool where the River Poddle met the River Liffey. This is where Vikings moored their longships. Today, Dublin is a thriving city famed for its literary history, music scene, and the iconic Guinness brewery. Behind its pubs and landmarks lie some quirky stories. Read on for 10 intriguing facts about Dublin’s past and present.

Witch Trials Took Place in St Stephen’s Green

Witch Trials Happened in Dublin

Today, St Stephen’s Green is a peaceful 22-acre park in central Dublin, popular with workers on lunch breaks and tourists. But centuries ago, it had a much darker history as a site for public hangings and burnings of so-called witches. From the 15th to 17th centuries, superstitious beliefs led to the brutal executions of many innocent women here. 

Dublin is Home to Europe’s First Consistent Maternity Hospital

Dublins has first Maternity Hospital in Europe

The iconic Rotunda Hospital next to Dublin’s Rotunda concert hall has a remarkable history. Opened in 1745, it is considered Europe’s first modern maternity hospital. The hospital was established by Dr Bartholomew Mosse, an innovative obstetrician who wanted to improve care for poor mothers at a time of alarmingly high maternal and infant mortality rates, particularly during childbirth. He raised funds to construct what was then called “The Dublin Lying-In Hospital” on Great Britain Street (now Parnell Street). The hospital was named the Rotunda after the circular shape of the adjacent Rotunda concert hall, where fundraising concerts and assemblies took place.

Hitler’s Half-Brother Worked at The Shelbourne Hotel

Shelbourne Hotel, Dublin

One unexpected figure in Dublin’s history is Alois Hitler Jr, half-brother of the infamous Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler. In 1909, Alois moved from Vienna to Dublin where he found work as a waiter at The Shelbourne luxury hotel on St Stephen’s Green. This 5-star hotel, today considered one of Dublin’s finest, has also hosted royalty and celebrities like John F. Kennedy and Elton John. But back then, Alois Hitler struck up a relationship with local girl Bridget Dowling while working there. Amazingly, the couple eloped to London in 1910 where they married before settling in Liverpool and having a son, William Patrick Hitler in 1911. Not much else is known about Alois and his family after this time, for some unknown reason.  

World’s Longest Pub Lease for Guinness

Guinness Logo

One of the best fun facts about Dublin involves Ireland’s most famous export, Guinness. In 1759, Arthur Guinness, then aged 34, signed a 9,000 year lease on an unused 4-acre brewery at St James’s Gate for just £45 a year. It turned out to be some of the shrewdest business acumen ever seen. This unusually long lease enabled Arthur to brew his iconic tasty stout at very low cost while giving his family security. Today, the modern multi-story Guinness Storehouse stands on the site, encompassing 64 acres. The brewery remains owned by the wider Guinness family who never bought out the freehold. They still pay just £45 annually in rent – the same as 262 years ago!

Home of Europe’s Largest Enclosed City Park 

Phoenix Park on Map

Spanning 1,750 acres, Phoenix Park on the northwestern edge of central Dublin holds the title of the largest enclosed city park in any capital city in Europe. It is around three times larger than London’s famous Hyde Park (350 acres) and more than twice the size of New York’s Central Park (843 acres). Originally used by Gaelic chieftains for deer hunting in the 17th century, the site was appropriated in 1662 by King Charles II who opened it as a royal deer park. Sections were later opened to the public in the mid-18th century.

Bullets Holes Remain from the 1916 Easter Rising

Helmets from War

A key event in Ireland’s turbulent history was the dramatic 1916 Easter Rising against British rule in Dublin. Much of the fierce urban fighting was centered around O’Connell Street which still holds the scars. Look closely at the street’s famous 138-foot O’Connell Monument erected to politician Daniel O’Connell, and you’ll notice bullet holes etched onto the statue’s right shoulder and lower plinth. These were left by bullets fired at rebels who took up positions around the monument during that fateful rebellion.

Dublin’s Oldest Pub Has Been Operating Since 1198

Pubs in Dublin

When it comes to good whiskey and beer, the Irish have perfected the pub culture. Ireland’s oldest pub dates all the way back to a hostelry in 1198AD. Tucked away on Lower Bridge Street near Dublin Castle, the iconic Brazen Head claims to be the country’s oldest pub still in business. Dating from a former coaching inn, its quaint building and stone walls have served up drinks for over 825 years, through Medieval dynasties, invasions, wars and more. 

Dublin is Home to Bram Stoker and Guinness World Records Trinity College

Going to College

Trinity College Dublin has an illustrious academic history, being Ireland’s oldest university founded in 1592. Among its famous alumni are seminal Gothic horror writer Bram Stoker and the creator of Gulliver’s Travels, Jonathan Swift. Bram Stoker who penned Dracula was better known in his time as the personal assistant of actor Sir Henry Irving, but he had studied Mathematics and Science at Trinity. Another Trinity alumnus of repute was Sir Robert Ball, the astronomer who wrote the popular story about how the sun was hot enough to roast the entire earthly population of chickens simultaneously, which apparently inspired the whimsical record-breaking appeals of the Guinness World Records book that started in Dublin. 

St Valentine’s Remains Buried in Dublin

Statue of Cupid

The remains of St Valentine himself, the patron saint of love, are buried in Dublin’s Whitefriar Street Church. It wasn’r originally buried there but was later exhumed and transferred. The church has a shrine with a casket said to contain the saint’s relics that were brought here centuries ago. 

Europe’s Widest Traffic Bridge

O'Connell bridge on the Map

The iconic O’Connell Bridge over the River Liffey holds the record for being Europe’s widest traffic bridge, spanning a full 45m in width. Locally referred to simply as “The Bridge”, it also marks the divide between culturally different north and south sides of Dublin.

Final Words

So there you have it – 10 fascinating fun facts about Dublin you may not have heard before. From its grisly witch trial history and famous figures to quirky world records and iconic sites, Dublin certainly has some intriguing stories behind its charming façade. Next time you visit Ireland’s famed capital, explore some of its rich hidden histories. There’s many more from where that came from.

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