Monthly Archives: November 2015

Royal College of Physicians – A Place of Excellence

John Stearne

John Stearne

In 1654 Dr John Stearne, who was a Professor of Medicine in Trinity College, founded what was then called The Fraternity of Physicians of Trinity Hall, with the aim of improving the practice of medicine in Ireland. Surprisingly, it was originally housed in Trinity Hall, a former prison on what is now Trinity Street.

Sir Patrick Dun Library

Sir Patrick Dun Library

In June 1667 a Royal Charter was granted by King Charles II, and this was amended in 1692 as the original charter was considered ‘insufficient to compass the noble design’. Sir Patrick Dun was President at the time and he played a very significant role in the College’s history. He bequeathed his extensive library to the college which is housed in the building and still in use. And when the hospital on Grand Canal Street that bore him name was opened in 1812 the College had its first permanent home in almost a century.

The College bought the premises at 6 Kildare Street in 1860 but before it could move in a fire destroyed the property. It was not until 1864 that the College had a new home; and the addition of the Kildare Street Club racquet court and its conversion into the Corrigan Hall in 1874 have made ‘No 6’ one of the city’s most attractive and interesting buildings.

Stairs

Stairs

Staircase

Beautiful interior

Ladies first: 1877 saw the Elizabeth Walker Dunbar become the first woman to be allowed to practice medicine in the British Isles, and Kathleen Lynn (1874-1955) also made a mark. She qualified in 1899, was a member of the Irish Citizen Army and its Chief Medical Officer during the 1916 Easter Rising. She was imprisoned, subsequently elected as a Sinn Fein TD, but never took her seat. She established St Ultan’s Hospital, Charlemont Street, in 1919 and was granted a state funeral when she died in 1955.

Kathleen Lynn

Kathleen Lynn

No. 6 is a great building with beautiful interiors, and a popular city centre venue for conferences and weddings.

 

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A Novel Award

Sue Leonard has suggested that BGEIrish Book Awards should have an award for a debut crime novel. I wholeheartedly agree with her  and the winner is….

 

Winners Alright!

Winners Alright!

 

 

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Chester Beatty Library – A World of Colour

Chester Beatty

Chester Beatty

The Chester Beatty Library is one of Dublin’s most interesting places to visit and the only museum in Ireland to be awarded European  Museum of the Year (2002). The exquisite collections of prints, manuscripts, paintings and early printed books from Western Europe, through Egypt, the Middle East to China are exceptional. They offer an insight in the rich history of great cultures and religions over the past three millennia.

Alfred Chester Beatty was born on 7th February 1875 in New York City. He graduated as an engineer from Columbia University in 1898 and went west to work in the mining business in Denver. Two years later he moved to Cripple Creek, Colorado and made a fortune mining gold. He was a millionaire in his early thirties, and for health reasons moved to London and established a successful consultancy firm and was often called ‘The King of Copper’. An avid collector since he was a boy he travelled widely buying and amassing the fabulous collection that is now housed in the renovated Clock Tower Building in Dublin Castle. The museum opened on the 7th February 2000, the 125th anniversary of Beatty’s birth. He moved to Dublin in 1940 and was made a Freeman of the City in 1954, and granted Honorary Irish Citizenship in 1957. And he was accorded a state funeral when he died on 19th January 1968 – a very unique honour indeed for a private citizen.

Clock Tower Building

Clock Tower Building

The short video about Chester Beatty just inside the Library’s entrance is informative and well worth a view. In the bright Atrium you will find the Library gift shop and, with so much on show coming from the East, the busy Silk Road Café. And the Roof Garden is not to be missed.

It’s a great place for all ages, and the word that most comes to mind when I think about my visit is – colourful. Check it out.

CBL - Entrance

CBL – Entrance

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William Rowan Hamilton – Genius

WRH in the Royal Irish Academy

WRH in the Royal Irish Academy

The word genius is defined as ‘a person who displays exceptional intellectual ability, creativity or originality associated with the achievement of new advances in a domain of knowledge’ and it most definitely applies to William Rowan Hamilton.

Hamilton was born on the 4th August 1805, the fourth of nine children, to Archibald Hamilton, a solicitor, and his wife Sarah and lived at 38 Dominick Street, Dublin. When he was three years old he was sent to live with his uncle James Hamilton, a teacher and linguist, who ran a school in Trim, County Meath, and showed an exceptional talent for languages from an early age. By the age of thirteen he had acquired the same number of languages, including ancient Latin and Greek, most modern European languages and Persian, Arabic and Sanskrit. Late in life he often relaxed by reading books in Persian or Arabic!

South Telescope

South Telescope

When he was eight he lost a mental arithmetic contest against the American prodigy Zerah Colburn who was touring Europe and astounding audiences with his ability. After his loss Hamilton devoted his time to mathematics and less to the study of languages. The year before he entered university he spotted an error in Laplace’s Mechanique Celeste, and this brought him to the attention of John Brinkley, the Royal Astronomer of Ireland. He said of Hamilton: ‘This young man, I do not say will be, but is, the first mathematician of his age.’  

He entered Trinity College when he was eighteen and studied mathematics and Classics gaining an unprecedented ‘optime’ in both. Soon afterwards, in 1827, he was appointed, while still an undergraduate, Professor of Astronomy at Trinity College. Although this was a great opportunity for Hamilton, which included a decent salary and the title of Royal Astronomer of Ireland, it was also a place for his sisters to live. However, he spent most of his time studying mathematics and very little effort was devoted to astronomy. He was, however, twice awarded the Cunningham Medal, the highest honour bestowed by the Royal Irish Academy. And in 1835 he was knighted for his services to science; and both he and Michael Faraday were awarded the Queen’s Medal by the Royal Society that same year.

Plaque on Broom Bridge

Plaque on Broom Bridge

While on his way along the Royal Canal to a meeting in the Royal Irish Academy on 16th October 1843 the discovery of quaternions took shape in his mind. He etched the equation on Broome Bridge and the famous event is celebrated each year with a walk from the observatory to the site. Today quaternions are used in computer graphics, signal processing and orbital mechanics. As such, their use can be found in todays’ spacecraft attitude-control systems, and their discovery played a significant role in putting Man on the Moon. That’s out of this world, and something the Dunsink Astronomer would have loved.

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory

 

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St. Audoen’s Church – Medieval Centrepiece

Lucky Stone

Lucky Stone

St. Audoen’s is one of the oldest structures in Dublin and was built between 1181-1212; working starting shortly after the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in Ireland in 1170. The church is dedicated to St. Audoen (Ouen in French) who was the patron saint of Normandy. The building work took place when John Comyn was, not surprisingly, the first Anglo-Norman Archbishop of Dublin. Interestingly though, a grave slab that can be seen in the church porch, has led archaeologists to suggest that there was a church previously on the site. This is known as the Lucky Stone and parishioners and visitors have ‘rubbed it for luck’ for centuries. Maybe you should give it a try sometime!

Cenotaph

Cenotaph

As the church was on High Street, in the centre of the medieval city, it became a valued and respected institution. And over the years, and its association with the growing, wealthy parishioners, it too became prosperous. One of the ways in which the church prospered was through chantries. These were endowments to fund the singing of prayers and hymns by priests for the salvation of the benefactor’s soul. From this the Guild of St. Anne was founded in 1430. One of its most high-profile members was Sir Roland FitzEustace, Lord Portlester, who paid for the erection of a chapel dedicated to the Blessed Virgin Mary. And there is a magnificent cenotaph commemorating him and his wife Margaret, in the Tower.

The Tower has had a chequered history having collapsed and being badly maintained for many years. But work in the early 1980s has rendered it safe, although it is not accessible to the public. Inside there are six bells that date back to the 1420s and they ring out every week. And the clock on the tower came from St. Peter’s Church (Aungier Street) and dates to the 1820s.There is much to see and learn here – check it out.

Tower - in the sunshine

Tower – in the sunshine

 

 

 

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