Down at the docks in Dublin’s fair city.

Docklands, from London to Liverpool and Dublin, are not what they used to be. Once sites of thriving industry and commerce, with riverside warehouses and not very salubrious pubs, when trade faded, major cities were left with something of an eyesore. But not for long: after a period of loving regeneration, most are now vibrant cultural hubs, home to a great mix of water sports, galleries, offices, eateries and smart housing.

And Dublin is up there along with the rest. Although the capital of the ‘Celtic Tiger’, so called because Ireland passed from being one of the EU’s poorest countries to one of its richest during the period from 1995-2007, has been badly hit by the recession, a stroll down to the city’s old Docklands is de rigueur to understand the contrast of Dublin, old and new.

View the exciting modern architecture and buildings that house bank and company headquarters, such as Google and Facebook, on both sides of the River Liffey and take in the award-winning Sean O’Casey swing Bridge and the Calatrava-designed Samuel Beckett Bridge. These favoured landmarks honour Irish writers.

The chq building, a historic wine and tobacco warehouse, has been converted into cafés and stylish stores, and on North Wall Quay, the former Point Theatre reopened in December 2008 as The O2, Ireland’s largest indoor entertainment venue for big acts. U2 were first to perform here on opening. Summer sees a variety of festivals and outdoor music and arts events so now is a great time to go.

But there’s a more poignant side to Docklands which should not be missed. Rowan Gillespie’s statues commemorate emigrants who left their home during the 19th century potato famine and there’s a replica famine ship, the Jeanie Johnston, moored at North Wall Quay. The original sailing ship made 16 voyages to America and carried over 2,500 emigrants.

Book your flight to Dublin now for summer! Ryanair fly to Dublin from most UK airports and Aer Lingus also offer good deals.

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