The River Liffey is Dublin’s dominant feature, and one that you will surely come to know and love during your holiday in Dublin. It not only divides the city geographically between North and South; but also culturally with the two halves of the city termed ‘Northside’ and ‘Southside’ respectively- both of which areas begin and end either side of the Quays. An understanding of the Geography of- and around- the Liffey will prove an excellent starter for anyone who wants to be able to find their way round Dublin during their extended holiday or short break in Dublin. For example the Ha’penny bridge is the prime gateway between Northside and Temple Bar.
The Quays which line the Liffey do not only contrast sharply from North to South, but also from East to West: as you travel further West you will find some of Dublin’s more famous land-based monuments and areas of interest, such as The Four Courts and Kilmainham Jail; whereas the further East you go you will find sea and river based attractions such as the Jeanie Johnson famine ship and the diving bell. The River Liffey’s attraction for holiday makers is also not only confined to the attractions that line it at regular intervals; it is also equally famous for the beautiful old and modern bridges that span it. The North Quay begins or (ends), in the East, at the entrance to Pheonix Park, whilst the South Quay to the East begins (or ends) at Heuston Station. If you have begun your holiday outside of Dublin and arrive in Dublin at Heuston station then a walk round Phoenix park followed by a stroll along the Quays into town will make the perfect start for your break in Dublin.
There are huge array of attractions, restaurants, accomodation options and places of interest dotted along either side of the Quays. On the Eastern side the famine memorial is a heart-wrenching reminder of the sadness of Ireland’s famine years 1845-52. These tall and emaciated statues who are walking towards the sea whilst dreaming of a better life, remind the holiday maker of Dublin’s troubled past. Fittingly there is a famine ship further along the Quay: the Jeanie Johnson is a replica of an actual ship that once ferried such careworn people to a better life across the ocean in North America. Customs House is an imposing building that we will dwell on much deeper within the pages of this website. All three attractions are with a very short walk of each other on the North Quay.
The Eastern side of the Liffey also boasts a huge array of attractions. The Brazen Head, a twelfth century pub is a great place to soak up some history and guinness. This beautiful pub is on Usher’s Quay, next to the Fr. Mathew Bridge.
As well as along or over the river, there is also plenty of scope to punctuate your holiday with exciting recreational activities that take place in or on the River Liffey. One great holiday activity is to join of the boat tours which leave hourly from Bachelor’s Walk. These forty-five minute cruises begin at 10.30, 11.30, 12.30 and 2.15, 3.15 and 4.15. It is best to join one of these cruises early in your holiday or short break as the guide will give you a good grounding for being able to navigate your way round the city for the rest of the holiday…. like we say the River Liffey is the key focal point for finding your way round.
Holiday makers who don’t mind getting wet can apply to join the yearly River Liffey swim. This 1500 metre race has been running since 1920 and runs from Customs House to the East Link Bridge. This years swim is due to take place on Saturday the 24th of August, and application forms can be found on www.leinsteropensea.ie. Kayaking and canoeing are also both available on the River, with several groups leading lessons. The best of these is ATI (Adventure Training Ireland), who lead several courses, including: kayaking lessons for children with autism, and kayak slim- for fat people like me.