What is Dublin?

So what is Dublin and where is Dublin? The answer to this question is not as simple as you might think. If someone says they are from Dublin, where exactly do they mean? And why does that matter? Well in everyday terms, it doesn’t really matter. But when it comes to business, it does.

“Dublin” can mean many different things in terms of the borders

Map of County Dublin

Map of County Dublin

First and foremost, there is Dublin City and County Dublin. Someone can specify that something is to be moved from “Dublin” to “Dublin” is very uninformative about where exactly in the entire County of Dublin the 2 places are located. Just stating “Dublin” is a very ambiguous term because they could be referring one of many different places, all of which are within the County of Dublin, for example:

– anywhere from Balbriggan to Shankill
– or indeed, anywhere from Dublin City Centre to Lucan
– or obviously anywhere else in either Dublin City or the broader County Dublin

But there is actually even more confusing elements in relation to the division of Dublin, some of which many people do not seem to be aware of.

Map of Dublin City

Current Map of Dublin City

First of all, what is Dublin City? By that, I mean what parts of County Dublin are within the boundaries of “Dublin City”? Many people would surprised at how much of County Dublin is actually considered “Dublin City”.

Some people think of Dublin City as being just Dublin City Centre, i.e. Dublin 1 and Dublin 2.

Some people would perhaps include some of the other surrounding postcodes of Dublin, like Dublin 3 and Dublin 7 on the Northside and Dublin 6 and Dublin 8, for example, on the Southside.

But in fact, the boundaries of Dublin City are much larger than this.

Interestingly, a lot of people would consider the areas further out to be just called “the suburbs” and they do not consider the suburbs to be part of Dublin City. But many of these further out areas are part of Dublin City.

It is true that Dublin City’s borders were much smaller in the past, as is evident in this very old map of County Dublin below. But the borders of Dublin City have extended outwards over the years, to where they now exist as shown in the “Current Map of Dublin City” above.

County Dublin Map

Old Dublin Map

Fact: the suburbs are part of Dublin City. Dublin City includes all of Dublin 1 to 17 on the Northside and all of Dublin 2 to 24 on the Southside, plus some additional areas of the Southside.

As more areas of South County Dublin became part of Dublin City, they were assigned a postal district, e.g. Dublin 18, Dublin 6w etc. But some areas, like Dun Laoghaire, opted out of having a numbered postal district, and opted to continue to be be addressed “Co Dublin”, despite becoming part of Dublin City.

So that has lead to another confusing element of Dublin, that some of the areas of South County Dublin that are addressed “Co Dublin” are part of Dublin City, like Dun Laoghaire and several other areas, whilst other areas of South County Dublin that are addressed “Co Dublin” are not part of Dublin City, like Newcastle and several other areas.

The areas that are part of Dublin City but that do not have a postal district number like the areas from Dublin 2 to Dublin 24 must cause some confusion. Their addresses end with the postal district “Co Dublin”, but they are part of Dublin City, whilst other areas outside of the City border have addresses that end in “County Dublin”, and are not part of Dublin City… how confusing, right?

So the areas of South County Dublin that are part of Dublin City include:

– Blackrock
– Booterstown
– Stillorgan
– Dun Laoghaire
– Glenageary
– Dalkey
– Killiney

Whilst the areas of South County Dublin that are not part of Dublin City include:

– Bray North
– Rathmichael
– Glencullen
– Rathcoole
– Newcastle
– Brittas
– Lucan

Dublin Local Authority Areas

Local Authority Areas

Just to add to the confusion, Dublin City can also mean two different things, officially. There is Dublin City, which is all of the districts that I have described as being “Dublin City” above.

But then there is also the Dublin City Council Local Authority area, which is a smaller section of Dublin City that includes Dublin 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 17 and some of Dublin 6w and some of Dublin 13.

Whilst the following areas of Dublin City are not part of the Dublin City Council local Authority area:

Dublin 14 and 18, some of Dublin 6w, some of Dublin 16, some of Dublin 13 and the areas of Dublin City that have the “Co Dublin” postcode rather than a postal district number, are part of the Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown Local Authority area.

Dublin 15 and some of Dublin 13, such as Howth, are part of Fingal County Council Local Authority area.

And Dublin 20, 22 and 24 and part of Dublin 6w and part of Dublin 16 are part of South Dublin County Council Local Authority area.

And just to complicate things even further, when they introduced Eircode postcodes, they decided to make things even more confusing. In most cases, parts of Dublin City got postcodes according to their old postal district, i.e. Dublin 1 got Eircodes that began with D01 followed by 4 more digits. Dublin 16 is in the format D16 XXXX and Dublin DW is in the format D6W XXXX, with the each X being either a letter or number.

The parts of Dublin with the address “Co Dublin”, whether they are part of Dublin City or not, got eircodes that did not start with “D”. Instead the either start with “A” or “K”. There doesn’t seem to be any logic as to why A and K were chosen, especially since A is used in South County Dublin and K is used in North County Dublin. But K is also used in Lucan, which is South County Dublin. Not to mention the fact the “A” is also, inexplicably, used for other counties.

But whilst the mess of Eircode in general is another matter, there is another confusing aspect in relation to how it’s applied in Dublin. Areas such as Saggart and Newcastle that are not part of Dublin City and have the postal district “Co Dublin” have been given Eircodes beginning with D24 and D22 respectively, as if they were part of the postal districts Dublin 24 and Dublin 22 respectively, and as if they were part of Dublin City. But they are not.

In addition, although part of Portmarnock is part of Dublin City, most of it is outside the boundaries of Dublin City, and most of the addresses would always have been addressed “Co Dublin”, but all of Portmarnock seems to have been given Eircodes that begin with D13 as if all of Portmarnock was in Dublin 13 and therefore part of Dublin City, which it is not.

Another strange fact is that because Co Dublin is divided up into four local authorities, County Dublin as an official county, no longer exists. Instead, officially, each of the 4 County Council Local Authority areas are a separate county. Normal people would not talk about it in this way. Most people would still talk about County Dublin as being what it always was – the full county, as a whole.

Dublin Electoral Districts

Dublin Electoral Districts

I won’t get to much into the Electoral Districts because it is not entirely relevant to my point, except to say that County Dublin is divided up differently again for the purposes of electoral districts. These are the current divisions, but these have been divided differently in the past and they could change again in the future.

So with all that in mind, I’m sure you’ll agree, there is not one straight answer to define what is Dublin, with regard to what the borders of Dublin are, whatever way you look at it.

But the main thing that actually affects us, as a moving business, is when people are filling in our forms and are asked where its going from and to, and there is an option to first choose which county it’s coming from and going to, and then we ask them to provide a more specific locations, i.e. the towns or districts involved.

Many, many people will just enter “Dublin” for the town / district field, which is not specific, especially considering they have already specified that it’s County Dublin.

What we need to know is, is it from Raheny to Dundrum… or from Blackrock to Terenure… or from Dublin City Centre to Balbriggan, for example.

And this is what got me thinking about how ambiguous “Dublin” as a term is.


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