Murky Origins

For most visitors, the very word “Dublin” may conjure up a heady, romantic mix of history, but it actually has a more prosaic origin. The name comes from the ancient Celtic words dubh linn, meaning “the black pool.” Specifically, it refers to a natural inlet where the River Liffey met the River Poddle, and the waters were dark and murky. Long since buried, the inlet is thought to be somewhere around Dublin Castle.

An allusion to these watery origins still survives in the city’s Gaelic name, Baile Átha Cliath, which means “the town of the hurdled ford”—a ford being a point where a stream or river crosses a road. When fords were “hurdled” in medieval times, it meant that they were covered at low tide with woven sheets of willow, making them easier to cross.

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