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Walking Through Dublin Along the Liffey

"Flow Liffey Waters, Flow Gently to the Sea ..."

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Dublin's Liffey Boardwalk and Ha'penny Bridge

Dublin's Liffey Boardwalk and Ha'penny Bridge

© Bernd Biege 2014

Dublin's most logical walk follows nature's course - simply along the banks of the River Liffey. Though you will not really pass Dublin's main attractions, this walk is one of the unique experiences Ireland's capital city provides. You will simply follow the course of the River Liffey through the city, from the resurrected Dublin Docklands to the Phoenix Park.

Starting in the Docklands

The most logical place to start this walk is in the Docklands, a once run-down area that has been undergoing extensive renovations. Head for the offices of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) between the International Financial Services Centre (IFSC) and Jurys Hotel. Then step onto the pedestrian bridge, officially the Sean O'Casey Bridge, and take a good look around - to the east you can see the harbour and the uninspiring Eastlink toll bridge, nearby the tall ship "Jeanny Johnston" is normally berthed.

South of the bridge is a memorial to merchant mariners killed during the "Emergency" 1939 to 1945. Nearby you will also find "The Linesman", a life-like bronze of a worker.

Turn westwards and you will come to a modern road bridge - the Matt Talbot Memorial Bridge with an impressive statue of the venerated Dublin mystic near its southern end. From here you can enjoy the panorama of Customs House to your left and the modern IFSC straight across the Liffey. Cross the bridge and have a look at the haunting Famine Group just to the right, the continue westwards, passing Customs House. And don't forget to look over to the modern structure housing the Ulster Bank - photographers will love the way the Customs House reflects in its façade.

Walk underneath Dublin's greatest eyesore, the dark railway bridge, pass Butt Bridge and continue upstream along the river. The tall hulk on your right is Liberty Hall, Dublin's tallest building and trade union HQ. A statue of Irish-American socialist James Connolly stands opposite Liberty Hall underneath the elevated railway. And on the buildings lining the Liffey you will notice remnants of Dublin's maritime past.

The Heart of Dublin City

You are now coming towards O'Connell Bridge with O'Connell Street to your right. This is the center of Dublin. And a rather curious bridge, being actually wider than long. Take a good look around and then continue on Bachelor's Walk, heading for the Ha'penny Bridge.

Well, officially this is the "Liffey Bridge", formally known as "Wellington Bridge", but ever since a toll of half a penny for pedestrians was introduced the nickname Ha'penny Bridge stuck. Cross the Liffey (it is free these days), the small lane just opposite the Ha'penny Bridge would lead you into the Temple Bar District. You turn right, however, walk to the new Millennium Bridge and re-cross the river. Again stop in the middle, take in the view, then continue upstream.

Viking Dublin

Just before you reach Grattan Bridge look across the Liffey at the embankment. You should see a grated tunnel entrance there - this actually in the outlet of the River Poddle which formed a "dark pool" (or in Irish dubh linn) nearby. Here the Vikings established a settlement. You then cross Grattan Bridge, the entrance to Dublin Castle is just visible at the end of Parliament Street. Also visible are the Sunlight Chambers next to the bridge, a magnificent corner building with lavish artwork praising cleanliness and soap!

Following the Liffey upstream you will notice a strange set of park benches on the left, recreating the image of a sinking Viking longboat. Further on the prow of a Viking boat was the inspiration for the monument outside the (modern) council offices. And walking on you'll discover bronze inlets in the pavement - copies of Viking artefacts dug up here a few years ago. You are in the heart of Viking Dublin!

When you reach O'Donovan Rossa Bridge you should take in the views from here - to the south Christ Church Cathedral is crowning the rise. And to the north the Four Courts are lining the Liffey. Stay on the river's southern bank and walk on, the views of the court buildings are best from here.

Dublin's Favourite Drinks

The next bridge is Father Matthew Bridge - a fitting memorial to the founder of the temperance movement due to its location.

You will notice a tall chimney-like structure on the northern side, this is the old chimney of the Jameson Distillery. And the Guinness Brewery is not far off, in fact you will pass it as you continue up the Liffey and past Mellowes Bridge, Blackhall Place Bridge and Rory O'More Bridge until you finally reach Frank Sherwin Bridge and nearby Sean Heuston Bridge. You may also get a good whiff of malt if the wind is right.

Journey's End - Back to Dublin City

Have a look at the magnificent façade of Heuston Station, then cross over to the northern quays and walk downstream, passing the Civil Defence Depot on your left. The park next to it is the "Croppy Acre", a mass grave for those killed in the 1798 rising. Take a left after passing this and walk up to Collins Barracks - the National Museum of Ireland.

Even if you are not culturally inclined the café will be a welcome sight. And after you have refreshed your energy you can simply catch a LUAS tram back to the city centre.

Should you, however, feel highly energetic again ... a short walk west will get you to either the Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo or the rarely visited War Memorial in Island Gardens.

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