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Musical Theme: Amazing Grace
The largest city and capital of Ireland, Dublin is commonly known to the Irish as Baile Átha Cliath, or "town of the hurdled ford"; this is a bit more romantic than its original Irish name of Dubh Linn, meaning "black pool". While the Greek astronomer Ptolemy provided some evidence suggesting that the Dublin area was settled as early as 140 AD, it wasn't until the Norse built a town at the foot of the river Liffey that the city received its more official founding date of 841. The Norse continued to rule the area despite a growing Celtic influence.
Dublin became a center for military and judicial power as the country flipped between control from the Norman lords and the King of England. English control was weakened for a time by the onslaught of the bubonic plague in 1348, but conquest of the island was begun anew under the banner of the Tudor State and Dublin was again firmly under British rule by 1603. The city expanded rapidly under the British and for a short time was the second largest city in the Empire. At this time the small harbor and river tributary giving the city its name was buried and built over, and for the most part was forgotten by the city's inhabitants.
In 1759 a small brewery was founded at St. James Gate, Dublin, which would form the economic backbone of the city for centuries to come. Arthur Guinness signed a 9,000-year lease for the brewery with an annual rent of 45 pounds for the four acre complex, using the money bequeathed to him in his godfather's will. His intelligence and business sense were questioned at the time, but the Guinness brewery soon became the largest employer in the city and substantially bolstered the growing city's economy.
After 1800 the city entered a period of decline when the seat of government was moved to Westminster. Dublin, and the rest of Ireland for that matter, had no natural source of coal and played no major part in the Industrial Revolution gripping Europe in the 19th century, and this greatly contributed to its steady decline.
Dublin's fortunes changed with the Easter Rising of 1916 when Irish republicans hoped to end British rule of the country and gain their independence. While the city sustained heavy damage from the ensuing battles, when the Irish Free State was finally recognized by the British in 1920 it started to rebuild the city center and moved the seat of government back to Dublin. Although painfully slow at times, the rebuilding of the city has gradually made Dublin the historical and contemporary cultural nexus of Ireland. More recently, the large-scale influx of euros into the city has helped it become a leading center for the sciences, education, and industry.