Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises


The Fair City

Dublin is the capital and largest city of Ireland. The city lies on the eastern coast of the island of Ireland, at the mouth of the River Liffey. It has been Ireland's most important city for almost a thousand years. It is the heart of political, economic, and cultural life in Ireland.

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The name Dublin comes from the Irish language word Dubhlinn, meaning "dark pool". This pool is located at the point where the River Poddle meets the River Liffey. This site is now part of the gardens of Dublin Castle.   

Reading Comprehension Text and Exercises, Dublin

A Brief History of Dublin

  • The Dublin Bay area has been inhabited by humans for thousands of years. The earliest written account of a settlement there comes from around 140 CE. The Roman geographer Ptolemy called this place Eblana polis.  
  • The area was occupied by the Vikings during the 8th and 9th centuries CE. These warriors from Northern Europe used the pool between the River Poddle and the River Liffey as a safe place to keep their ships. The settlement grew to become a major city.

    The city remained largely under Viking control until the middle of the 12th century. During this period the city was a major base for the slave trade. Both the Vikings and Irish raiders would steal people from coastal villages across Britain and Northern Europe to trade in Dublin.
  • In 1166, the King of Connacht (Western Ireland) Ruadri Ua Conchobair marched into Dublin and was crowned King of Ireland. However in 1169 the Normans invaded Ireland from Britain. The city was ruled by the Norman Earl of Pembroke, known as Strongbow.

    Dublin became the main center of Norman power in Ireland. By 1204, the Normans had built Dublin Castle. This stronghold became their strongest power base.
  • The city was badly affected by the Black Death. This disease killed thousands of its residents in the mid-14th century. Dublin changed rapidly in the 16th century. The English crown tried to force Catholics in Ireland to convert to Protestantism.

    Under the orders of Queen Elizabeth I, Trinity College was built in Dublin. It would only allow Protestants to enter and be educated there. The Catholic cathedrals of St Patrick's and Christ Church were also converted into Protestant places of worship.
  • The city's population declined by half between 1649 and 1651. This was because of due an outbreak of the plague. However Dublin recovered quickly and became a major trading center for wool and linen. By the early 18th century, it had become one of the largest cities in the British Empire.
  • The city was the main center for the Irish independence movement. This movement grew stronger from the start of the 19th century. The Easter Rising of 1916 saw fighting break out between pro-independence and pro-English forces.

    Dublin became the capital of the Irish Free State in 1922 and in 1948 became the capital of the entirely independent Republic of Ireland. Since the 1990s it has become one of the most attractive cities in Europe for global businesses to set up their headquarters. Many of the world's biggest technology companies are based in the city.

Trinity College

Trinity College is the oldest and most prestigious university in Ireland. It has been at the heart of academic life in Dublin since being founded in 1592. The university has a close relationship with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge in England.

This means that a graduate of any one of these universities can be granted a degree at any of the others, without having to take any further exams.

Trinity College is located on College Green, opposite the Irish Houses of Parliament. Its grounds cover over 47 acres (190,000 square meters). The Library of Trinity College contains some of Ireland's greatest historical treasures. These include the beautiful Book of Kells. This manuscript dates back to the 9th century CE. It is most famous for its colorful illustrations of stories from the Bible.

Dublin Castle

Dublin Castle was the seat of English and British government in Ireland from the 13th century until 1921. Until this date it was the main symbol of British power over Ireland.

In December 1921 the complex was handed over to the new Provisional Government of Ireland. It now hosts the swearing in ceremony of each President of Ireland.

The castle is used to host official state visits. It also hosts important national and international conferences and events. Visitors can access the Castle's state apartments, which are open to the public. The castle complex also houses the museum to the Garda, the Irish police service.

St Stephen's Green

St Stephen's Green is the most famous public park in Dublin. The park was built as a place for local wealthy residents to relax in during the late 17th and 18th centuries. In 1877, the park was opened to the general public for the first time.

The park was occupied by soldiers belonging to the Irish Citizen Army during the Easter Rising of 1916. After Ireland gained its independence, the statues of British Kings and noblemen in the park were replaced with statues of Irish heroes like the writers James Joyce and Thomas Kettle.

National Museum of Ireland

The National Museum of Ireland is the country's leading museum of history, archeology, art, and culture. It was established in 1877 to try and prevent Irish history from being forgotten under British rule. It is spread across three different sites within Dublin.

The Archeology department on Kildare Street displays treasures including the Tara Brooch. This piece of jewelry dates back to the 7th century CE.

The Decorative Arts and History section of the museum is kept at the Collins Barracks building. It contains furniture, costumes, and ceramics from the last 100 years of Irish history. The Natural History section on Merrion Street houses examples of animals from around the world.

An Authentic Dublin Dish

Dublin is a city famous for its pubs and restaurants. It is a fantastic place to try a range of different Irish dishes. One popular side dish found on many menus is Colcannon. This dish is made with mashed potatoes, spring onions, cabbage, and milk.

Comprehension Exercises

Vocabulary Questions

  1. What does "raiders" mean?
    1. people who grow things
    2. people who build things
    3. people who steal things

  2. What does "launched" mean?
    1. called or shouted
    2. started or began
    3. lay down or collapsed

  3. What does "prestigious" mean?
    1. clean or spotless
    2. celebrated and important
    3. cheap or inexpensive

  4. What does "illustrations" mean?
    1. drawings or pictures
    2. words written in a foreign language
    3. holes or tears in fabric

  5. What does "manuscript" mean?
    1. a contract or legal agreement
    2. an old book or collection of papers
    3. a cookery book

Collocation Questions

  1. The Book of Kells is ___________ at the Trinity College Library.
    1. homed
    2. housed
    3. accommodated

  2. The Vikings were the first ___________ to build a major settlement on the site of modern-day Dublin.
    1. humans
    2. persons
    3. people

  3. The Roman geographer Ptolemy ___________ to the area as Eblana Polis.
    1. referred
    2. preferred
    3. conferred

  4. Ruadri Ua Conchobair was ___________ King of Ireland in Dublin in 1166.
    1. announced
    2. declared
    3. ascribed

  1. An outbreak of the plague wiped ___________ around half of Dublin's population in the mid-17th century.
    1. off
    2. away
    3. out

  1. Queen Elizabeth I of England wanted to encourage Dublin's population to ___________ from Catholicism to Protestantism.
    1. divert
    2. alter
    3. convert

  1. The Normans ___________ their control over the city by building Dublin Castle in 1204.
    1. founded
    2. established
    3. started

  2. Dublin was an important center for the wool and linen ___________ in the 18th century.
    1. industries
    2. concerns
    3. efforts

  3. A group of fighters who ___________ independence for Ireland based themselves at St Stephen's Green during the Easter Rising in 1916.
    1. searched
    2. sought
    3. hunted

  4. Spring onions are a ___________ ingredient when making Colcannon.
    1. lively
    2. vivacious
    3. vital

Wh Questions

  1. What is the Tara Brooch?
    1. a piece of jewelry dating back to the 7th century CE
    2. a wild animal similar to a rabbit that is only found in Western Ireland
    3. a 9th century manuscript kept at the Trinity College Library

  2. Why did Queen Elizabeth order Trinity College to be opened in Dublin in 1592?
    1. to teach the Irish how to speak English
    2. to create a center for Protestant learning in the city
    3. to encourage more people to learn about Irish history

  3. Where is the museum of the Irish Police Service or Garda?
    1. Dublin Castle
    2. Collins Barracks
    3. St Stephen's Green

  4. How many ingredients does Colcannon traditionally have?
    1. 12
    2. 7
    3. 5

  1. When was the National Museum of Ireland founded?
    1. 1877
    2. 1778
    3. 1948

Evaluating Statements

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is true?
    1. James Joyce is one of Ireland's most well-known writers.
    2. James Joyce is one of Ireland's most well-known painters.

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, which statement is false?
    1. Trinity College has a special relationship with the Universities of Oxford and Cambridge.
    2. Trinity College has a special relationship with the Universities of Cardiff and Edinburgh.

True or False?

  1. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "Trinity College is located opposite the Irish Houses of Parliament."
    1. True
    2. False

  2. Based on the information in this lesson, is the following statement true or false?

    "The Natural History section of the National Museum of Ireland is located on Grafton Street".
    1. True
    2. False

Answer Key

1. C | 2. B | 3. B | 4. A | 5. B | 6. B | 7. C | 8. A | 9. B | 10. C | 11. C | 12. B | 13. A | 14. B | 15. C | 16. A | 17. B | 18. A | 19. C | 20. A | 21. A | 22. B | 23. A | 24. B

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