New Interpretive Panels to bring story of Dublin to life for visitors

14th December, 2015

An tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh, and the Minister for Transport, Tourism and Sport, Paschal Donohoe TD, today officially launched twelve new Interpretive Panels to promote key historic sites in Dublin and to encourage greater visitor engagement with the city’s stories and past.

The new panels are large attractive storyboards situated along the Dubline, a unique cultural and heritage walking trail running across the city from Parnell Square, via Trinity College, to Kilmainham Gaol and Courthouse. The Dubline, jointly developed by Dublin City Council and Fáilte Ireland, connects places, people and stories and showcases Dublin’s rich heritage – enabling visitors to uncover many of the city’s hidden gems. Images of the new panels can be accessed HERE.

Launching the Interpretive Panels, An tArdmhéara Críona Ní Dhálaigh, said:

“The Interpretive Panels are a wonderful addition to the series of themed walking trails or Discovery Trails already launched last Summer by Dublin City Council and Failte Ireland. Nach cóiriúil go bhfuilimid inniu ag seoladh na painéil seo sa láthair stairiúil seo atá fite fuaite le stair na cathrach agus le stair na tíre. Dublin is rich in history and it is appropriate, with the 1916 commemorations only around the corner, that we should be here today at Kilmainham Gaol to launch the panels. The Interpretive Panels complementing the Dubline will open up the story of Dublin to visitors and Dubliners alike.”

Welcoming the benefit of the Interpretive Panels, Minister Donohoe pointed out:

“These panels will be a timely addition to our tourism infrastructure in Dublin – particularly as Irish history takes centre stage next year and we commemorate the 1916 centenary. The streets and laneways of Dublin echo with a great variety of stories about our past and visitors to this city, who want to learn more about us and about our country, will now have extra assistance in engaging with our past.”

The twelve Interpretive Panels have been placed at significant and important junctures along the Dubline which provide the trail user with useful information about key historical locations, events and characters and to act as an additional marker along the route. The Panels will also help trail users to discover the stories that shaped Dublin and trace the timeline of our city from its origins to the present day.

Explaining the importance of such visual markers, Noel John McLoughlin, Fáilte Ireland’s Director of Marketing emphasised:

“While we have a rich history and great tales to tell, we can’t assume that they are self-evident and we have to really put them out front and centre to our visitors. Previously, visitors to the city would have walked unawares past many of our lesser known historical landmarks. Now, through the Dubline, we are providing visibility and an engaging narrative to fully tell the story of this city’s past.”

The purpose of the Dubline Interpretative Panels is to build on and complement the existing signage, by providing an additional layer of information for the visitor to the city. It is proposed that this addition to the system will direct visitors to destinations, landmarks and places of interest of a more local character, located on or in the vicinity of the Dubline walking route.

Commenting on the enhanced walking experience, which will be available to tourists, Brendan Kenny, Assistant Chief Executive in Dublin City Council, stated that:

“The new structures will significantly enhance the public realm and help foster a unique identity for the city of Dublin. By incorporating new technology, the Interpretive Panels will offer visitors an even more compelling, accessible and interactive experience. ”




Notes to the Editor

Fáilte Ireland

Fáilte Ireland, the National Tourism Development Authority, was established in 2003 to guide and promote tourism as a leading indigenous component of the Irish economy.


The tourism and hospitality industry employs an estimated 205,000 people and generates over €3.5 billion in overseas revenue a year.


Growing tourism numbers and revenue are important factors when it comes to job creation within the tourism sector. For example –

  • Every 55 international tourist visits helps support one tourism job
  • 1,000 additional tourists support 18 jobs in the tourism industry
  • Every €1 million of tourist expenditure helps to support 34 tourism jobs

Interpretative Panels

The Interpretive Panels will be installed at the following locations along the route:

  • Kilmainham Gaol & Courthouse
  • Royal Hospital Kilmainham
  • James’s St. (installation of this panel will be delayed until summer 2016 due to ongoing construction work at the location of the panel)
  • Thomas St. West (St James’s Gate)
  • Thomas St. (NCAD)
  • High St. (City Walls)
  • High St. (Tailor’s Hall)
  • Lord Edward St.
  • Cow’s Lane
  • Aston Quay
  • O’Connell St. (Prince’s St. North)
  • O’Connell St. (Discover Ireland Centre)

Today’s launch is a part of an overall approach to develop the Dubline and a number of further projects will be rolled out to develop and promote the route over the next year.

These include:

  • Implementation of public realm enhancements to improve the pedestrian environment on the route;


  • Deeper engagement with tourism businesses along the Dubline, thereby resulting in an increase in footfall and spend.


  • Promotion of the Dublin Discovery Trails, which are self-guided walking trails that branch off the Dubline, to both domestic and international visitors which in turn will increase visibility of the Dubline through both online and offline communications;


  • The creation of four new Discovery Trails, beginning with a trail around the Liberties area of the city that will look at Dublin’s design and industrial heritage.


  • The development of a link between the Dublin Discovery Trails App and the Dubline Interpretive Panels via the embedding of iBeacon technology within the panels;


You can learn more about the Dubline HERE.


Interpretive Panel Headline Stories


Kilmainham Gaol & Courthouse

Opened as the county gaol for Dublin in 1796, Kilmainham Gaol soon held a surge of Irish revolutionaries. From its first political prisoner, United Irishman Henry Joy McCracken, to its last, Éamon de Valera (later president of Ireland) in 1924, the gaol would house many who fought for Irish independence from Britain.


Fourteen leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were shot in the gaol’s Stonebreakers’ Yard. One of the largest unused prisons in these islands, it has also been used as a location for a number of films, including Michael Collins and In The Name Of The Father. Kilmainham Courthouse, which was built in 1820 alongside the gaol, has recently been refurbished as a visitor centre.


Classical Inspiration

The Royal Hospital was Dublin’s first great classical building. Inspired by Les Invalides military hospital in Paris, architect William Robinson’s grand design put Dublin on the path to becoming a leading European city. Opened in 1684, on a site granted by Charles II, it provided a retirement home for up to 300 soldiers.


For nearly 250 years the building was home to British Army veterans of many famous campaigns, including the Battle of the Boyne and the American War of Independence. Veterans enjoyed a comfortable life with ample beef and beer rations and even a tobacco allowance. Marriage, however, was banned. A special pensioner’s uniform was worn and military discipline was observed. Soldiers slept two to a bed, with two beds to a room.


St James’s Church

The parish of St James takes its name from a medieval shrine to Spain’s patron saint, which was situated at St James’s Gate. After the Reformation, Catholics often had to worship in private houses, a situation exacerbated by the introduction of the Penal Laws in the late 1600s. A chapel was built near St James’s Gate in the 1700s which served Catholics until this church was completed in 1852. Its foundation stone was laid by Daniel O’Connell, who secured Catholic emancipation.


The church has close links with the Easter Rising of 1916. One of the signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic, Eamon Ceannt, was married here, while the parish priest, Father Eugene McCarthy, attended the executions of the rebel leaders imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol. He also officiated at the marriage of one of those rebels, Joseph Mary Plunkett, to Grace Gifford, just hours before Plunkett faced the firing squad.


The Story of Guinness

The last of the breweries which once thronged the Liberties is also the most famous. It was founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness, who secured a 9,000-year lease on four acres of ground here for an annual rent of forty-five pounds. The distinctive black stout brewed at St James’s Gate became a national icon and one of the world’s most popular drinks. Guided by successive generations of the Guinness family the brewery had become the world’s largest by 1914, spreading over some 26 hectares (64 acres).


Today, the brewery hosts one of Ireland’s most popular visitor attractions. Shaped like a giant pint glass, the Storehouse’s seven floors explore the unique heritage of Guinness and the craft of brewing. Located in the brewery’s old fermentation plant, its top floor Gravity Bar enjoys 360-degree views over Dublin.


The Liberties

You are in the heart of the famous Liberties, which has played a vital role in Dublin’s cultural, industrial and political life since medieval times. The people of the Liberties have always seen themselves as the real Dubliners. Here, where the city evolved more than a thousand years ago, you can explore some of Dublin’s most historic streets.


Following the Anglo-Norman conquest of Dublin in the 12th century, areas of land outside the city walls were granted independence, or ‘liberty’, from city laws. These included the Liberty of Thomas Court and Donore and the Liberty of St Sepulchre. Over time the term ‘Liberties’ came to refer to a large part of the south inner city.


Medieval Dublin

Dublin expanded gradually from the 10th century Viking settlement. The Irish king, Muirchertach Ua Briain, who ruled Dublin until 1115, replaced the earthen banks built by the Vikings with walls of stone, almost tripling the size of the defended area. But even they were no defence when the Anglo-Normans overran the city in 1170, killing many of its inhabitants.


The Anglo-Normans consolidated their power base by enhancing and expanding the city walls. Weak sections were identified and strengthened and new walls built. Although only two stretches of the city walls survive above ground (nearby on Cornmarket, and at Cook Street just north of St Audoen’s), portions of the walls have been uncovered in recent excavations at sites such as City Hall, Dublin Castle and Fishamble Street.




Tailor’s Hall

The oldest surviving guildhall in Dublin, Tailors’ Hall, which is situated on the other side of High Street, was home to the ancient Tailors’ Guild from 1706 to 1841. In order to work as a tailor, one had to be a Protestant and obtain permission from the master of the guild. Spies were instructed to check if tailors belonged to the guild and, if not, their clothes were seized and they could be sent to prison.


A famous series of meetings, known as the Back Lane Parliament, were held here in the 1790s in support of Catholic emancipation. The hall was also used by the Society of United Irishmen who were led by Dubliner Theobald Wolfe Tone. Dedicated to ending British rule in Ireland, their failed rising in 1798 was inspired by the French Revolution. Tailors’ Hall is now the headquarters of An Taisce, the National Trust for Ireland.



Christ Church

Dublin’s oldest cathedral began life as a small church founded by Dúnán, the first bishop of Dublin, with funds from the Norse king of Dublin, Sitriuc. After the capture of the city by the Anglo-Normans in 1170, their leader Strongbow (who is buried here) planned a great cathedral with the Archbishop of Dublin, Laurence O’Toole. Their vision was completed in the 1230s.


Following the Reformation, Christ Church became a Protestant cathedral and ‘Romish’ relics, such as St Patrick’s crozier, were burned in a huge bonfire. The cathedral was extensively restored in the 1870s. Its atmospheric medieval crypt is one of the oldest surviving structures in Dublin.


Cow’s Lane Designer Market

This popular outdoor market attracts leading artists, designers and craftspeople from around Ireland. From 10am to 5pm every Saturday from March through to December, it showcases unique handmade crafts, jewellery, clothes, original drawings and prints, pottery, wooden carvings and accessories.


One of Temple Bar’s four popular public spaces, Cow’s Lane might only date from the first decade of the 21st century but its roots lie in a medieval thoroughfare of the same name that lies somewhere beneath.


The Liffey and Dublin

Celebrated in literature as ‘Anna Liffey’, the river has played a pivotal role in the life of the city. Viking longboats sailed up the Liffey to take control of the Irish settlement here, the Anglo-Normans extended the city along its banks and a British gunboat pounded rebel positions from here during the Easter 1916 Rising.


The Liffey was at the heart of the dramatic northwards expansion of Dublin in the 1600s as the population rose rapidly and the city outgrew its medieval walls. Quays were built along the north bank of the river and new bridges were built. That transformation was echoed in recent years with the redevelopment of the Dublin Docklands on both sides of the Liffey.


Nelson and the Spire

Long before the spectacular Spire of Dublin stood here this site belonged to a famous British admiral. Nelson’s Pillar was erected following Admiral Nelson’s victory over Napoleon at the Battle of Trafalgar in the days when Dublin was the second city of the British Empire. Its foundation stone was laid on 21st October 1809, the fourth anniversary of the battle. When completed, the public were able to climb 168 steps to enjoy a panoramic view of Dublin from near the top of the granite column. It was blown up in 1966 by Irish Republicans.


The Spire of Dublin, which reaches up to 120 metres (394 feet) above street level, is believed to be the world’s tallest sculpture. It was completed in 2003 and has quickly become one of Dublin’s most recognisable landmarks.


O’Connell Street

Long seen as the centre of Dublin, O’Connell Street is the city’s favourite location for public commemorations and celebrations. Its origins lie in the mid-1700s, when an influential banker called Luke Gardiner developed an avenue of fashionable townhouses called Sackville Street here, which was later extended by the Wide Streets Commission. Following the Act of Union in 1800, when many aristocrats left Dublin for London, it became a largely commercial area.


O’Connell Street’s best-known landmark, the GPO, was built in 1818 and served as the rebel headquarters in the Easter Rising of 1916. The street suffered widespread damage during the Rising and the Irish Civil War, and had to be substantially rebuilt in the 1920s. It was renamed O’Connell Street after Daniel O’Connell, who led the struggle for Catholic emancipation.