Towns and Cities: Dublin

Maurice Craig visits the Irish capital.

Dublin, like London or Paris but unlike Madrid or Washington, is a natural capital. It is central; it is on the sea and has a good harbour; it commands Leinster, the richest of the four provinces. Though the Liffey is not a very large river, the fact that its mouth faces towards England has given it a great advantage over the Shannon, the Lee or the Foyle.

Though there was a Celtic settlement in Dublin, its history as a town begins with its Scandinavian founders, who maintained a Kingdom of Dublin for three hundred years. The Anglo-Norman invaders took over the town soon after their arrival in 1169, and from then until the end of the sixteenth century it was the capital of the Pale, that strip of eastern seaboard which fluctuated greatly in its dimensions, but remained always under the control of the English Crown. It had been granted for re-founding by Henry II to the men of Bristol, and it became an entrepot, an administrative centre, a garrison town and, in 1592, a university town also.

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