Dublin is an old city, with a settlement established on the banks of River Liffey over 1,000 years ago. The area we know today as The Liberties is one of the city’s oldest neighbourhoods, its fascinating history intricately connected to that of the wider city.
Dublin grew from two small Christian settlements in the 9th century (Ath Cliath – or ‘the ford of hurdles’ and Dubhlinn – the ‘black pool’). The settlement really gained strength and prominence under the Norsemen or Vikings who arrived from about 840. The Vikings built a port here in the estuary of the River Liffey and it became their most important trading post in Ireland. The Norsemen’s kingdom of Dyflinn centred on the area we now call Wood Quay at the confluence of the River Liffey and its tributary, the Poddle. In time Viking Dublin gave way to new invaders – the Anglo-Normans – and Dublin became a small city, and the main centre of Norman power in Ireland. Early medieval Dublin was a fortified town, surrounded by a large wall and included a castle, cathedral, churches and a complex system of local government run by a Corporation and guilds.