I've lived in Dublin for two years and I have to say, I don't miss it that much. The famous Irish friendliness is not really a Dublin attraction and is more likely to be found in other parts of Ireland, such as down in the south or west, like Galway and the Aran Islands.
Dublin and Dubliners are very peculiar. I've always been fascinated by the Celtic culture and was definitely disappointed by the lack of character in the Irish capital. In fact, I've only found the common European city, with no particularly striking personality and a strong will to emulate London.
I've ended up in Dublin four years ago because I expatriated with a friend of mine who had been there when she was 14 and has dreamt about it since. When first she went, Temple Bar didn't exist, and her passion stemmed more from the Cliffs of Moher than Dublin itself. But for obvious reasons, it was much handier living in Dublin than on the Cliffs.
The first impact with the city and its inhabitants has been funny, parties almost every night, meeting friends was the easiest of the tasks, a great complicity among foreigners, connected by our common status of expats who, for a reason or the other, shared the same difficulties.
The first thing tourists notice (and how couldn't they) as soon as they arrive in the city centre, is the Spire, a huge metallic, horrendous thing that rests in the middle of O'Connell Street, just before the River Liffey that divides the town into the "rough" North and the "posh" South.
Once overcome the shock of the Spire, tourists are left with a handful of interesting sights to explore, among which are noteworthy the Castle, the (tiny) Writers' Museum, Trinity College, Stephens' Green Park, Joyce House, Guinness Storehouse.
I don't like beer and I'm a major fan of literature and history, but I have to say that among all Dublin attractions, the one that impressed me the most is definitely the Guinness Storehouse: they organise the tour perfectly, and visitors have the opportunity to see how the beer is made and to trace the history of this national pride. At the end of the tour, beer lovers will be pleased to receive a complimentary pint of freshly made Guinness. Definitely, highly recommended (no, this is not a sponsored post).
Seemingly, Temple Bar is the tourism icon. Built in a mock-antique style, it's actually very recent and the best definition for it is "a cluster of pubs". You can also stumble on ethnic, little clothes shops, but besides the street artists, there's not much to see. It's mainly a night-time attraction, but beware: the weekend all pubs are packed, most people are drunk and there is a good chance you'll need to work somebody over in order to reach out the bar and have your pint.
Modern Dublin definitely misses the cheerful atmosphere created by local artists playing traditional music, and is a telling evidence that sacrificing old customs in the name of modernity doesn't always work.