Liberties, located outside the old city walls and so named because it was subject to private jurisdiction and not to the king or the town.

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(The dark bog water draining into the river made the “black pool” that gave the city its name.) Almost certainly, this opening from the sea—leading through the mountains to the fruitful central plains of Ireland—originally attracted Viking raiders and Norse settlement.

Each year the suburbs jut farther into the countryside, but to the south there is a natural limit posed by the Dublin and Wicklow mountains, which ring the city and provide some of its most beautiful vistas. The average temperature is lowest in January–February, 42 °F (6 °C), and highest in July–August, peaking at about 68 °F (20 °C).

1030), which was replaced about 140 years later by a more magnificent Norman structure.

By the 19th century the edifice was in ramshackle condition; it was restored in the 1870s at enormous cost. Patrick’s, erected just outside the city walls, was also originally a Norse church that may have been built on an earlier Celtic foundation.

Most sunshine is in May and June and averages four hours a day.

The mean annual rainfall is 30–40 inches (760–1,000 mm), although more falls in the surrounding mountains. Apart from the port area and the docks, Dublin is a low-built, steepled city, with few buildings dating from before the 17th century.

Ireland’s national theatre, the Abbey, is just east of O’Connell Street, marked since 2002 by the Spire of Dublin, a 394-foot (120-metre) stainless steel landmark that proclaimed the street’s transformation with a pedestrian plaza and tree-lined boulevard.

Together with a rash of new high-rise buildings, the spire has changed the character of the city and of the north side.

The castle—the seat of British authority in Ireland until 1922—is now used for ceremonial occasions, especially the inauguration of the republic’s presidents, who reside at Áras an Uachtaráin (“the President’s House,” formerly the Viceregal Lodge) in Phoenix Park, and for local and international conferences.

The castle also is the home of a number of cultural organizations, notably the Chester Beatty Library.

Christ Church is the cathedral for the diocese of Dublin and Glendalough, whereas St. Both have been Church of Ireland (Anglican) churches since the Reformation.