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Thomas Moore – Melody Man

Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore

Known as Ireland’s National Bard, Thomas Moore was born on 28 May 1779 at 12 Aungier Street, Dublin, above his father’s grocery shop. He had two younger sisters, and was interested in acting and music from an early age. He went to Whyte’s Academy on Grafton Street (now Bewley’s Café) before studying law at Trinity College. This was at the time of the 1798 Rebellion and he knew students who had been killed in the fighting. One of his most famous poem/songs The Minstrel Boy is considered to have been written in remembrance of these young men. Other compositions like The Last Rose of Summer and The Meeting of the Waters are perennial favourites.

Sweet vale of Avoca! how calm could I rest
In thy bosom of shade, with the friends I love best,
Where the storms that we feel in this cold world should cease,
And our hearts, like thy waters, be mingled in peace.  

The following year he moved to London to continue his legal studies and began to make a name for himself as a poet, translator and singer. So much so that he met the Prince of Wales on several occasions and enjoyed the patronage of Lord Moira, a rich and famous military man and politician.

Thomas Moore - College Green

Thomas Moore – College Green

In 1803 he travelled to Bermuda to act as the Registrar to the Admiralty but left for America after only three months. There he met President Jefferson and was particularly well received in Philadelphia. In Canada he was rowed down the St Lawrence River and he was inspired to pen the Canadian Boat song in 1804.

Back in London and after a series of scathing criticisms by Francis Jeffrey, Moore challenged him to a duel. They met in Chalk Farm, in north London, but the authorities arrived and prevented it going ahead. The suggestion that his rival’s gun was empty led to more stinging abuse that plagued him for years.

From 1808-1834 he published many A Selection of Irish Melodies but a single collection was not compiled until after his death. He was a prodigious writer (the greatest collection of his work is held in the Royal Irish Academy, Dublin) and performer until late in life when he suffered a stroke. He died on the 26th February 1852 at his home in Bromham, Wiltshire and is buried in a vault in nearby St Nicholas’s churchyard.

Moore's harp - Royal Irish Academy

Moore’s harp – Royal Irish Academy

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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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