Tag Archives: DNA

Clontarf, ready to celebrate

As famous dates in Irish history go, the Battle of Clontarf in 1014 is one of the best known. It is part of our national DNA, and Brian Boru is rightly lauded for his victory over the Vikings. And now, a thousand years after the fateful day, it is being celebrated with a full programme of events.

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An overcast Dublin Bay at Clontarf

The battle itself took place at different locations during the day (Good Friday), with fierce fighting at ‘The Fishing Weir’, what is now Richmond Road, and around Cross Guns. Late in the day, Brian Boru’s men drove the Vikings back to their longships at Clontarf, and in their desperation to escape, the Vikings were slaughtered to a man – there were no survivors! Brian, however, did not live very long to enjoy his greatest victory as he was attacked and killed by Brodir, the Viking leader from The Isle of Man. After the battle there followed a century and a half of uneasy peace between the Celtic chieftains and the ‘local’ Vikings, that was finally ended by the Norman Invasion with the arrival of Strongbow (Earl of Pembroke, Richard de Clare) in 1169. There are many different events celebrating the momentous day with mock battles, lectures and walking tours all adding to the festivities. When I was in Clontarf recently I couldn’t resist visiting ‘Restaurant 1014’, a fine place to spend a little time and enjoy the magnificent view over Dublin Bay. While sipping a coffee outside it was not difficult to imagine the Viking longships, with their colourful sails billowing in the breeze,  sail to the shore, the warriors tense and ready for battle. The restaurant is owned and operated by CASA (Caring And Sharing Association) which supports people with disabilities. And upstairs, you can read a book (or buy one for €2) while having something to eat or drink. It will be holding a Gala Evening on Wednesday 23rd April (the date of the battle), and in the week before the Big Day the restaurant will offer a special menu with a fusion of Nordic and Irish cuisine. And if you’re lucky you might even see a few Vikings. You’ve been warned!

Restaurant 1014

Restaurant 1014

PS – Check out Battle of Clontarf and the excellent exhibition in Trinity College for more Battle/Viking details.

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The art of the matter

The day was warm, the sky blue – a perfect day to visit the Sculpture In Context in the National Botanic Gardens. The exhibition series that began in 1985 has been held in various places around Dublin; namely, Dublin Castle, Farmleigh and Kilmainham Gaol to mention a few. But since 2002 it has found a home in the Gardens, and a most suitable home it is too.

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The Gallery

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Sun Offering

In the Visitor Centre I got a Map & Guide to the Gardens, and then went upstairs to the Gallery where a number of  small exhibits are on show. The room, with a long wave-like glass wall looking onto the Gardens beyond, is a real treat  and a wonderful space for an exhibition. And the sun streamed in showing the exhibits ‘in the best light’. There are just enough pieces on show to make it comfortable to move about easily and view all the exhibits. Some rest on window ledges, some on small stands like Sun Offering by Eamonn Ceannt which might the smallest piece on show. Everyone will find something of interest and the colours are intriguing.

Bling-fisher!

Bling-fisher!

 Outside, check your map and head off on botanical mystery tour. Every path leads to something interesting, and you should keep your eyes wide open so as to spot the exhibits in unexpected places. It’s fun, a long way away from the small galleries where they are usually shown. Children, especially, love the colours and the playful, entertaining settings. Pieces can be found in trees, gardens, the Great Palm House, ponds and lawns. 

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Pack of Packmen!

 At the end of the Gardens, near the ponds, a number of ‘fishy’ exhibits are not to be missed. Also, there is the recently unveiled ‘What Is Life?’ piece by Charles Jencks. It celebrates the 60th anniversary of the discovery of DNA by James Watson and Francis Crick, for which they won the  1962 Nobel Prize for Medicine. Watson, who was on hand when the piece was unveiled in April, said he was inspired to study chemistry when he read Erwin Schrödinger’s famous paper What is Life? in the 1940s. The great Austrian scientist, who was living in Dublin at the time, presented his groundbreaking work during a series of lectures in February 1943 in Trinity College.

So, if you go down to the Gardens today there is much to see and enjoy!

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What Is Life?

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