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The Four Courts and the River Liffey, Dublin

Dublin is the capital city of the Republic of Ireland with a population of 505,739, and with a population of the Greater Dublin Region standing at 1,661,185 as of the 2006 census. Dublin is the largest city in the Republic of Ireland and in Ireland as a whole.

Dublin's Irish name is Baile Atha Cliath which translates to 'Town of the Hurdle Ford' and the city lies on the River Liffey, though its 'English' name also has Gaelic origins: Dubh Linn, or 'dark pool'.

In a 2003 European-wide survey by the BBC, questioning 11,200 residents of 112 urban and rural areas, Dublin was rated the best capital city in Europe to live in, and Ireland the most content country in Europe.

History of Dublin

Dublin was founded by a Viking captain, Thorgisl, who came south from the Viking base base on the River Shannon during 939-42 and built a "loughport". He called it Dubh Linn. The traditional date for the founding of the settlement is 941.

Dublin was conquered by Norman invaders from England in 1170 (although Norman commercial and cultural influence had been growing in Dublin for many decades), and it became the headquarters of the chief among the Norman nobles, Hugh de Lacy; in 1204 King John began construction of Dublin Castle and in 1213 St Patrick's church was raised to cathedral status, in rivalry with the monastic Christ Church cathedral founded c.1028. Medieval Dublin peaked in prestige, commercial prosperity and population in the thirteenth century; in ensuing centuries plague, war and the revival of native Irish power, leading to erosion of the Anglo-Norman-dominated Pale of Settlement, saw its power and population diminish.

The Elizabethan conquest of Ireland in the later sixteenth century and the Cromwellian reconquest in the 1640s and 50s established Dublin as the functioning capital of all Ireland and its major centre of trade and distribution. This led to major urban spatial and population growth, fuelled by immigration from the Irish countryside and from Britain, France and the Netherlands. In the eighteenth century Dublin grew rapidly, acquiring its handsome Georgian terraces and squares as well as civic buildings such as the Four Courts, Trinity College (founded in 1592) and the rebuilt Castle. However, during the nineteenth century the major engine of economic growth and industrialisation in Ireland was Belfast; Dublin remained a major port and centre of government, but failed to develop as rapidly as its new northern rival.

During the twentieth century Dublin saw serious violence during the Easter Rising of 1916, the Anglo-Irish War of Independence between 1919 and 1921, and the Irish Civil War of 1922-23. The city was also bombed in error by the Luftwaffe on 31 May 1941.

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