Temple Bar itself is the central cluster of streets alleyways and quayside in an area that stretches from O'Connell Bridge and Westmoreland Street westward to Christchurch Cathedral, bounded on the south and north by Dame Street and the river.
Designated as Dublin's Cultural Quarter, the area was developed since 1991 out of a rambling collection of crumbling warehouses and derelict buildings which occupied what had once been the heart of mediaeval Dublin. Originally, at the end of the 1980s, Temple Bar was earmarked for demolition and clearance to make way for a new CIE National Bus Station. But then it was realized that despite its run down state, it had become a home for artists' studios, alternative boutiques, record-shops and second-hand and specialist bookstores. Whatever way people and history may judge Charlie Haughey, the Taoiseach of the time, one cannot deny that he had vision. Alerted to the protests against the bus station plan by various bodies and residents, including An Taisce, Haughey came up with a master plan to develop the area into the equivalent of the Left Bank in Paris, a city, as we now know, with which Haughey was intimately familiar.
He was responsible for securing the necessary funding and, in 1991, the Government set up a not-for-profit company called Temple Bar Properties to oversee the regeneration of the area as Dublin's cultural quarter.
With the funding in place, an ambitious project was embarked upon to renovate and rejuvenate the whole area in keeping with its culture and history and creating in the process a lively and artisan quarter of Dublin. Whether it emulates, or even comes near to what the Left Bank is like in Paris is very much open to debate however, as the emphasis seems to be too much on pubs and restaurants rather than art galleries and craft centres.
The success of this project, which still continues today under the management of the same state-funded company, Temple Bar Properties, has been questioned by some, particularly those who believe that it places an over-emphasis on the more hedonistic aspects of life, but there is no doubt that the thriving buzz of the place, where some of the best of modern Irish architecture combines seamlessly with lovingly-restored old buildings and cobbled streets. It certainly is a vast improvement on what was there before Haughey had his vision and the place is a must see for any visitor to Dublin
Pick a fine day, or better still a fine evening, and just stroll around and enjoy the cosmopolitan buzz of the place. Watch and listen to the many buskers and street artists as they perform for you in a dazzling variety of disciplines.
In the evening, Temple Bar is all about eating and drinking and having fun. But don't miss out on the cultural experience which resides among all the fun places.
In the daylight, enjoy the architecture - it really is an excellent blend of the old, the new, and the renovated. You can visit the Irish Film Centre, The Ark children's theatre, and the Temple Bar Gallery along with taking in a play in the famous Project Theatre in Andrews Lane.
For cultural history, go and see Isolde's Tower, the nearby remains of an ancient tower that was once part of the old city walls, and pay a visit to Dublinia, a multimedia exhibition of mediaeval Dublin that finishes with one of the most striking views in the city.
There is a wonderful choice of accommodation in Temple Bar, and a great cross-section of style and cost. If you are a music fan and money is not an object, then why not try the 5-star U2 owned The Clarence . Memorabilia from all their albums abound throughout the place and members of the band are themselves regulars at the bar. Other hotels in walking distance include The Morgan and The Morrison just across the river via the famous Half Penny Bridge. Blooms, The Temple Bar Hotel, The Paramount, The Parliament and the nearby Ormond Quay Hotel all offer mid-range three star accommodation and comfort.
www.lookaroundireland.com recommends that if you are on trip to Dublin City, do not leave out a trip to savour the Temple bar experience!
For more information on the Temple Bar area, visit the Temple Bar web site at www.temple-bar.ie.