Greater Dublin Area (GDA) for Leaving Cert Geography

Tip: I found it extremely beneficial to know this chapter inside out and back to front. There is more to write about the GDA in comparison with the West of Ireland, and the questions are often easier to get big marks in. There’s a good bit in this chapter, but much of it is common sense or things you’d hear about on the news. Be specific; learn exact figures regarding population, average temperatures etc. This is a critical piece of advice across the entire geography course, but particularly in the Regional section. 

Greater Dublin Area (GDA) for Leaving Cert Geography

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Physical processes 


Cool temperate maritime 
Lower precipitation (compared to the WoI). 800-1000mm per year. In rain shadow of Dublin Mountains (which are 1200m high)
Sunshine- 4 hours per day average
Summer temperature- 16 degrees Celsius
Winter temperature- 5 degrees Celsius
Growing season- 270 days


Lowland region- low, flat land
Dublin Mts/Wicklow Mts- Caledonian folds (formed 400 million years ago). Underlying granite- part of the Leinster Batholith
  Features of deposition in the north-
    Beaches: Malahide, Portmarnock
    Tombolo: Sutton Tombolo links Howth to mainland
  Features of erosion in south-
    Cliffs: Killiney, Dublin Bay


Lowland= fertile brown earths- rich in humus- not effected by leaching/erosion
Deciduous forests
Underlying limestone- calcium for bones= good for horses in the Curragh, Co. Kildare
Soils= well drained
Mountains (Dublin and Wicklow) have thin acidic soil, prone to leaching. Infertile soils


Region is drained by the River Liffey and its tributaries eg River Tolka

Primary activities


Farms= large
Scientific approach- fertilisers, pesticides, herbicides 
Farmers= young and educated- using modern farming methods
Farms= highly mechanised
Large market for food products
Farmers under pressure to sell land to developers for residential, commercial, industrial use

Agricultural Activities

Arable farming (crops)

44% of lad use is for crops, fruit and horticulture
11% of national wheat crop comes from the GDA
15% of national potato crop comes from the GDA
Counties Meath and Kildare particularly

Market gardening

The growing of fruit, veg and flowers in greenhouses close to the markets
Dublin City= 1.2 million people
Perishable goods
North Dublin- Rush and Lusk
Half of Ireland’s greenhouses are in the GDA
Most intensive agricultural land use


37% of total land use- dairying and cattle rearing
4.5%= rough grazing
Sheep farming in Dublin Mts where land is poor
Cattle reared in WoI and sent to GDA to be fattened where land is better
Co. Meath

Blood Stock

Rearing of thoroughbred horses in Co. Kildare
There is underlying calcium in the land here which strengthens the bones of horses, who eat the grass that grows on it

Q: Examine the physical factors that influence the development of one primary economic activity in an Irish region that you have studied. 

(30 marks) HL LC, 2017, Part 2, Q4 C

(Note: I chose to write about two physical factors only in order to keep the question more structures, but there is no need to do this necessarily; especially if you have a lesser knowledge of a greater number of physical factors.) 


I have studied the GDA in the east of Ireland, which has a natural environment that favours farming because of its climatic conditions and soils.

Summers are a bit warmer than the west (16 degrees Celsius in July), and sunnier. This favours the growth of cereal crops throughout the GDA. As the GDA is close to the Irish Sea and its moderating effects, the risk of frost and crop diseases such as potato blight (which thrives in cool and damp conditions) are reduced. There is a growing season of almost 280 days as a result per year. This is vital in the growth of salad crops and early vegetables in places such as Rush and Lusk. The annual precipitation levels are usually about 750mm a year, and rainfall is distributed evenly throughout the year.

The deep and fertile soils of the GDA also favour farming throughout the GDA. There are fertile brown soils covering most of the region. These soils were formed in areas where there was once deciduous forest. The fallen leaves of these forests decayed and formed humus, which makes soils fertile and suitable for arable farming. There are high sand contents in the soil of north Co. Dublin, which makes them light and suitable for growing market vegetables such as potatoes and carrots. The underlying limestone in Kildare means that the soils there have high calcium contents. This makes for strong bones in the horses who graze there. Rivers eg The Liffey have deposited fertile alluvium in their flood plains, which helps in making fertile soil.

Secondary industry

Manufacturing= v. strong in Dublin region
Factors affecting manufacturing- focus on high-tech industries, good transport and links to third-level institutes
The GDA is the location of a quarter of all manufacturing plants in Ireland
Employs 40% of all manufacturing workers in Ireland
Brewing, food processing, electronics, pharmaceuticals (eg Wyeth Biopharma- 2000 direct employees), computers, printing, publishing
Rich agricultural hinterland: traditionally provided raw materials for successful food and drink processing industry eg Guinness, Tayto
Dublin Port- entry of materials needed for manufacturing
GDA- pop. = more than 1 million. Region and hinterland provide large market with high disposable income. 40% pop. = under 25
Centre of road and rail network = easy access to countrywide market
Largest airport in Ireland- Europe and worldwide connections
GDA- large pool of skilled labour. Meets needs of industry. Many third-level institutes eg TCD= qualified graduates in science, business, pharmacy etc
Major service centre- provides support services for manufacturing eg design, accounting etc

Q: Examine the factors that influence the development of secondary economic activity in an Irish region that you have studied. 

(30 marks) HL LC, 2013, Part 2, Q4 B


The Irish region that I have studied is the GDA.

The size of the GDA’s population has contributed greatly to the success of its manufacturing industry. The population of the GDA is about 1.2 million. People in the GDA have higher incomes on average when compared to other Irish regions. The population of the GDA is relatively young- 40% of its population was under 25 years in 2010. This type of population provides a good workforce for the region’s factories. It also provides a local market for consumer goods eg drink products, newspapers etc, which are manufactured in the GDA. Most industrial estates are near the densely populated suburbs eg Walkinstown and Tallaght. There are high standards of education in the GDA, with many third-level institutes such as TCD and UCD. Many highly-trained graduates in the disciplined of science, business etc come from these institutes. They are valuable workers in companies eg Intel in Leixlip or Grange Castle in Clondalkin, 97% of whose workers are third-level graduates.

Another aspect of the GDA that has attracted secondary industries is the number of industrial estates and business parks in the region. Light industry has been particularly attracted by this. Industrial estates have been established in areas such as Tallaght and Clondalkin following investment by the IDA. These estates are usually located near the M50, so that they are near good transport links. There is an industrial estate in Santry which is near Dublin Airport. This is useful for the transport of light, valuable goods such as jewellery. Industrial estates are made to suit the needs of modern industry. Their infrastructure includes roads suitable for large trucks, running water, electricity, and broadband. Another term for such factories is forward-facing, as they are ready to be moved into and have operations start straight away.

Tertiary Industry 


  Hiking in Dublin Mts
  R. Liffey cruises
  Dublin Bay
  Beaches: Portmarnock, Malahide
  Howth and Sutton tombolo
  Powerscourt Waterfall

  Croke Park, Aviva Stadium
  Phoenix Park, Dublin Zoo

 Dundrum Shopping Centre

  Glasnevin Cemetery 
  Trinity College, Book of Kells
  Kilmainham Gaol
  Áras an Uachtarán
  Leinster House

Guinness Storehouse
  Bord Gais
  3 Arena
  National Concert Hall
Night life
  Temple Bar
  St Patrick’s Day

  Dublin Airport 
  Dublin/ Dun Laoghaire ferry terminals
  Heuston/Connolly Stations

  Largest number of accommodation beds in Ireland
  Hotels, guesthouses, B&Bs, campsites, hostels
Golf courses

Well-developed because of income. Many tourists coming to the GDA using these services, bringing in money.
8/10 of Ireland’s top tourist attractions are in Dublin. Worthwhile for government to invest money in them

Economic benefits of tourism

    Taxi driver, coach driver
    Cleaners in hotels, chefs in guesthouses
    Waiters/waitresses in restaurants
    Barmen and women in pubs
    Tour guides
    Farming, fishing etc- providing food to be eaten in eg restaurants
    Construction- involved in building new hotels etc
Brings in money
  Invisible export- brings in foreign currency and helps Balance of Payments
  Spin off or multiplier effect for local businesses

Improved infrastructure
  Hotels and leisure centres
  Recreational activities eg golf courses


Low, flat relief makes in easier and less expensive to build routeways
Most accessible part of Ireland
Excellent transport systems- Centre of Ireland’s road and rail network. Radial system 
Motorways- M50 (sees 30 million vehicles a day), M1,2,6,7,8,9,11- to all cities in Ireland
Quality Bus Corridors
Bike scheme
Railway lines to Waterford, Cork, Limerick, Galway- Heuston and Connolly
  Green Line- Stephen’s Green to Sandyford
  Red Line- The Point to Tallaght
  The new Blue Line
  30 million passengers a year (commuting mainly)
DART: Howth to Bray
Ireland’s largest airport- Dublin Airport
  18 million passenger a year
  Terminal 2 opened November 2010
Port tunnel
Dublin port

Financial services in the GDA


International Financial Services Centre (IFSC)
Custom House Quay, Dublin
2006- 450 financial services companies, 17000 people employed
Half of the world’s top 50 banks
Half of the world’s top 20 insurance companies
Eg Citibank, AIG, J.P Morgan
Irish Exchequer collected more than €700 million in corporation tax from IFSC companies
Dublin’s universities= large pool of business graduates
10000 employed in spin off industry eg restaurants, shops in the area

Q: Examine the development of tertiary economic activities in an Irish region you have studied 

(30 marks) (Pre-exam paper question)


I have studied the GDA as an Irish region. More than 80% of workers in Dublin City are employed in the tertiary sector. The two aspects of the tertiary sector which I will discuss are financial services and tourism.

By 2008, more than 100000 people worked in the financial and business sector in the GDA. One place where these workers are particularly concentrated is the IFSC in the Custom House Quay, Dublin. It was established in 1986 to attract financial service companies eg banks, insurance companies. By 2008, 17000 people were employed by the IFSC. Half of the world’s top 50 banks had set up in the IFSC, as well as half of the world’s top 20 insurance companies. The IFSC is a 16 hectare complex. Most of the employees here are business graduates from third-level institutes in Dublin such as TCD and UCD. The complex contains 450 financial service companies. Another 10000 people are employed in spin-off businesses in the area such as restaurants and hotels.

Regarding tourism, in 2008, 7.8 million tourists visited Ireland and spent almost €4 billion. Half of these tourists visited Dublin. Reasons that tourists visit Dublin include the fact that it’s the most accessible part of the country. It is at the centre of Ireland’s road (eg M50) and rail networks, and has car ferries coming into it at eg Dublin Port. Dublin Airport is situated here also, which sees 18 million passengers through it each year. Tourist attractions include the National Gallery and the National Museum of Ireland. 8/10 of Ireland’s top tourist attractions are in Dublin. Cultural attractions include the Book of Kells in TCD and Collins’ Barracks. There are many shopping facilities such as Jervis Shopping Centre, and there is vibrant nightlife in places such as Temple Bar. Dublin is a year-round tourist venue with sporting events in Croke Park and the Aviva Stadium creating opportunities to take lucrative short-term breaks here. Tourist attractions outside Dublin in the GDA include Powerscourt Waterfall in Wicklow and Newgrange in Meath.

Human Processes

Population density
  V. high- 1300/km squared
  Much higher than national average- 60/km squared
Population distribution
  Uneven: Dublin city- 1.2 million
  Low pop. Density in Dublin Mts.
Pop. Structure
  Active age group
  Inward migration: West of Ireland-Dublin
  Pull factors- Employment opportunities in tertiary and secondary industry, educational opportunities, availability of services (transport, social life)
  Higher percentage of females- Brain Drain
  Immigration from Eastern Europe, Africa, multicultural society

Negative effects of urban sprawl

Valuable farmlands eg North Dublin taken over for building purposes
Small unique villages eg Dundrum turned into impersonal, monotonous suburbs 
Increased housing and population growth= increased pressure on sewage facilities and water supplies
Unbalanced economic development. More difficult for Irish centres outside of GDA to flourish
Increased commuting
  Irish cars travel 70% more than French cars per year
  Increased physical and mental health problems
Animal habitats disrupted or destroyed in the building of roads, houses etc

Solutions to urban sprawl

Urban redevelopment
  Old structures are demolished and valuable city centre sites are used for commercial purposes eg IFSC

Urban renewal
  Old structures are refurbished or replaced by new houses or apartments. Shops and other local services are provided in the area eg The Liberties

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