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Dublin, Ireland

By Courtney Heney

Whether you are a seasoned traveler of the world or a recent graduate on a tight budget, Dublin, Ireland has something to offer.

The credo 'pick your poison' aptly describes the many ways visitors can enjoy their stay in this ancient and celebrated city. While Dublin's history is tainted with violence, struggle and oppression, the city is proud of its heritage while at the same time embracing its hopeful future. The remnants of Dublin's violent past are checkered throughout the city, and as you pass the GPO (General Post Office) you will note that bullet holes pepper the front pillars. While that is a grim reminder of the past, the newly erected Millennium Spire represents and celebrates the cultural epoch Dublin continually undergoes.

Music is deeply embedded into the culture of the Irish, so walking down the winding cobblestone walkways, expect to find yourself drawn into an inviting pub and in the midst of a thundering jam session that will have you clapping your hands and pounding the floor. There is the popular pub, Oliver St. John Gogarty's located in the pulsating Temple Bar region of Dublin, or The Celt, which is located on Talbot Street. These are two pubs that offer live music and great fun. While absorbing the contagious goodwill, you may even feel the need to sample a glass of Henry Guinness's world-famous brew, Guinness. After all, 2 ½ million pints of stout are brewed daily in the legendary Saint James's Gate, which is open to the public for daily tours.

If pub-crawls are not your cup of tea, Dublin celebrates a vibrant theatre and cultural scene. The Abbey, Gaiety and Gate theatres run first-class performance from musicals to dramas year round, while the James Joyce Cultural Center will satiate any literature thirst you may have! If you have a passion for film, the Irish Film Center (IFC) is a worthwhile pit stop for the film buff. Dublin also offers first-rate shopping, which is evident of the thousands upon thousands of tourist who flock to both Grafton and O'Connell streets for mad shopping sprees. While taking a reprieve from shopping, you may take a quick jaunt over to Ireland's oldest university, majestic Trinity College (est. 1592), which is located deep in the heart of the city and take a tour and see the Book of Kells firsthand. Also, Christchurch and Saint Patrick Cathedrals are breathtaking edifices and definitely a must see.

There truly is nothing like authentic Irish hospitality, so you should be forewarned that you may encounter difficulty reaching your destinations as you will surely be engaged in friendly and animated conversations with the locals. Regardless of how you spend your time in Dublin, you are guaranteed to have yourself enough craic* to last a lifetime, and then some!

 *For the uninitiated, craic (pronounced CRACK) is Irish for fun