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This small Dublin church has a colorful reputation that it may or may not actually deserve. Built by Fr. John Spratt in 1825, Whitefriar's was designed by Sir George Papworth, who was also responsible for building the St Mary's Pro-Cathedral the previous year. Although the claim has recently been questioned, Whitefriar's claims to possess the remains of St. Valentine. According to the story, Spratt visited Rome in 1835, met Pope Gregory XVI and was given the remains as a gift. The church now boasts a specially designed altar and shrine as well as a statue designed by Irene Broe depicting Saint Valentine holding a crocus plant - the symbol of spring.
This former prison is one of Dublin's most historic buildings. Dating back to 1796, the Kilmainham Gaol is a massive building that housed men, women and even child prisoners. Most notably, the Gaol is known for incarcerating famous rebels and prisoners of war. Today the building serves as a museum with exhibits, artifacts and docent-led tours.
Originally part of Trinity College, the Dunsink Observatory houses the astronomical section of the School of Cosmic Physics, which is now a part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies. The observatory regularly hosts public stargazing nights where admission is free, although tickets are required. Open nights are held on the first and third Wednesday nights of the dark winter months. Prospective visitors must write for tickets enclosing a stamped self addressed envelope.
Opened in 1890, the National Library was built for the Royal Dublin Society, which was formed in order to promote the arts and sciences in Dublin and to improve conditions for the poor. The library is now Ireland's bibliographical centre and incorporates both the Heraldic Museum and Genealogical Office. Tickets are generally issued to individuals whom the library consider to have "genuine research needs": applications can be made in person and a decision will be reached immediately. The library also regularly holds exhibitions and the Genealogical Office caters for individuals who wish to carry out family research but are unfamiliar with the library's extensive collection.
More than 235 species of wild animals and birds inhabit Dublin Zoo, a vast expanse within Phoenix Park. Created in 1830 and later restored and extended, this zoo is one of the oldest in the world. The thirty acres (12.1 hectares) provide lots of treats for the family, including a pet's corner and attractions such as Family Farm and Fringes of the Arctic. The train ride around the zoo is also fun and a welcome rest for weary feet! Refreshments are available in the restaurant and coffee shop, while a variety of cuddly toys can be found in the gift shop.
Joyce's association with Dublin is crucial. Finding its mention in his literary works, Dublin city has gained historical importance, more so with the James Joyce Museum that served as the opening for Joyce's literary masterpiece, “Ulysses”. To view the life of this writer as a young man, this museum exhibits letters, photographs, rare editions and personal possessions of Joyce. Get a feeling of 20th-century life and literature in this museum as you get carried away into the world that was in Joyce's lifetime.
Located above the peacefully flowing River Liffey, the Ha'penny Bridge, also known as the Liffey Bridge, is an important landmark of the city. During the early 18th Century, ferries operated by a private owner called William Walsh plied across the river. But these ferries were in a deteriorating condition and that forced officials to demand the erection of a bridge or termination of ferries from Walsh. Walsh expressed his desire to build the bridge but he had inadequate funds. On his earnest request, commuters were charged Halfpenny or Ha'penny as a toll for the construction of the bridge. That's how the bridge came to be known as Ha'penny Bridge. Today, it beckons visitors and locals with its angelic white color and promises pristine views of the beautiful river.
Dublin Castle symbolized English rule for 700 years, ever since the Anglo-Normans built their fortress on this site. Later, the castle was to serve as the headquarters of the English-appointed Viceroy of Ireland. It was not until 1922 that it was finally handed over to the Irish Free State. The castle's apartments boast of opulent, wonderfully-decorated rooms, while carpets of rolling, formal gardens lend it an alluring aura. Sheltered within the castle's fabric are insignia and collectibles of historical interest. The Castle is in use even today as a venue for state functions as well as home to multiple government agencies. The castle grounds are also home to the magnificent Chapel Royal and the splendid Chester Beatty Library. A window into the country's monumental, medieval past, this mighty castle is indeed one of the most priceless possessions of Dublin.