Tag Archives: Eamonn Ceannt

A Grand Walk

Summer is finally in the air, and the other day I joined a group at The Barge Pub (Charlemont Street) for a most enjoyable walk along the Grand Canal. One of the many Dublin City Council inititives this ‘Let’s Walk & Talk’ tour took about ninety minutes and, thankfully, catered for all speeds. There were, of course, some folk who liked to walk quickly, but most of us took our time and chatted as we went.

Grand Canal - looking grand!

Grand Canal – looking grand!

There are a number of different walks to consider, and as someone who knows the area quite well, it was great to find out ‘new stuff’ from the volunteers, when we stopped along the way. A canal connecting Dublin to the Shannon was proposed as early as 1715, but building work only began in 1756. After a few false starts, and the unique difficulty of working in the Bog of Allen, the canal was completed in 1804. It is 82 miles (131 kms) long, has 43 locks and enters the Shannon in County Offaly.

We headed to Sundrive Road Park (now Ceannt Park – named in honour of the signatory to the 1916 Irish Proclamation), and past the house on Harold’s Cross Road where Robert Emmet was arrested after the failed rising in 1803. I never knew where the Crown Forces ‘got him’ and that he was hiding under the name ‘Hewitt’.

Back along the canal some small children laughed out loud when they tossed pieces of bread to the swans. I counted at least twenty elegant birds, and in the strong sunshine a few of my fellow walkers took photographs. They were postcard stuff.

Upstairs at The Barge a number of us went for a coffee and continued the ‘Let’s Talk’ theme. I must say it was a great way to spend a little time and, as the advertisement almost says ‘It’s good to walk…and talk.’

Swanning around...

Swanning around…

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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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Open House Weekend

Mansion House

Mansion House

In a few short years the Open House Weekend has become something of a favourite with Dubliners and tourists alike. The fact that we can gain access to buildings, houses and offices that are normally off-limits to the general public, is a great reason to get out and about and enjoy the ‘search.’ Everywhere I went people studied maps, pointed this way and that and happily queued, cameras at the ready to snap a piece of history. There was, inevitably, lots of talk and much advice on offer as to which places to visit.

I began my walkabout with a visit to the Mansion House. The guide, a councillor and former Lord Mayor, really knew the history of the building and made the whole experience memorable. It was built by Joshua Dawson (who built many of the buildings on Dawson Street) in 1705 as his city residence, but sold it to Dublin Corporation in 1715 for £3,500! The Oak Room is lined with the crests of all the previous Lord Mayors with Daniel O’Connell’s (1841) being the first. There are many beautiful paintings in the Drawing Room where Eamonn DeValera, Michael Collins and others sat at the long table and discussed, no doubt heatedly, the division of Ireland.

A brisk walk took me to Dublin Castle where the queue for the State Rooms stretched almost around the Upper Castle Yard, and I decided it was a good idea to use my time and go elsewhere. I had not planned to visit Dublin City Hall but I’m happy that I did. Having, like many others, passed by the old place countless times, I had never given it much thought and walked on. But not today, thankfully. Formerly the Royal Exchange, built between 1769 and 1779, it has been the centre of municipal government since 1852. The building has recently been renovated to its former glory and it was well worth the visit. The rotunda was wonderful, especially when the sun shone down onto the colourfully tiled floors. And the ‘Story of the Capital’ exhibition in the basement is informative and well presented.

City Hall

City Hall

After that I walked the few yards across the cobblestones to the Rates Office. It was designed by Thomas Ivory in 1781 for the Newcommen Bank. Built of Portland Stone, in the style of John Adams, it was altered in the 19th century due to the demands for local road improvement. The renovated stairs was impressive as were the two oval offices that look down on the entrance to Dublin Castle. Eamonn Ceannt, a signatory the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and a leader in the Easter Rising of 1916, worked in the City Treasurer’s Department from 1900 to 1916.

Afterwards I made my way along Dame Street, past Trinity College and the Bank of Ireland, and squeezed into the lift that took me and my fellow passengers to the top of Liberty Hall. This is the tallest viewing area in the city and has been off limits for years. Built in 1965, the view from the roof terrace of what was Ireland’s first skyscraper was a real thrill, and I took the rare opportunity to click away at the panorama on offer. The Liffey sparkled as it snaked its way eastwards to the sea under the new bridges that have added hugely to the architectural landscape. To the west, the city spread out towards the Dublin Mountains, and the backdrop of a blue sky and puffy, white clouds was something special. Open House Weekends are fun and, hopefully, here to stay.

Atop Liberty Hall

Liberty Hall – what a view!

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