Royal Irish Academy
The Royal Irish Academy is an all-Ireland learned society and was founded in 1785. The following year it was granted its royal charter, and its aims were ‘the promotion and investigation of the sciences, polite literature, and antiquities, as well as the encouragement of discussion and debate between scholars of diverse backgrounds and interests.’ The Earl of Charlemont, who described himself as a ‘lifelong learner’ was, appropriately, the first president. Today there are over 400 members, and some of the notable honorary members in previous years have included Charles Darwin, Max Planck and Albert Einstein.
The Academy’s first residence was at 114 Grafton Street (across from the Provost House, Trinity College), but it moved to its present address (19 Dawson Street) in 1851. The new premises had more space to accommodate the growing collections of antiquities, and the Reading Room and Meeting Room were added between 1852-54. Much of the collection was subsequently transferred to the new National Museum of Ireland in 1890, and included the Cross of Cong, the Tara Broach and the Ardagh Chalice.
The Reading Room
The library’s unique collection of manuscripts (over 1,500) began when it was presented with the fourteenth-century Book of Ballymote. There are many other famous manuscripts in its care, but the most precious is the Cathach (Psalter of St Columba). This is the oldest surviving Irish manuscript and dates from the sixth century. The library is a research library for members, students, international scholars and members of the public. It holds the largest collection of Irish-language manuscripts, and archives on Irish history, archaeology and 19th century Ordnance Survey records. The library also holds the collection of Thomas Moore, the Irish singer and songwriter, who penned The Last Rose of Summer and The Minstrel Boy. His harp is on show in the library.
Thomas Moore’s harp
In the grand Meeting Room you can find chandeliers and benches from the Irish House of Lords which was abolished over two hundred years ago. Now that’s living history!
Filed under Art, Dublin, Science
Finding a permanent place to stay in Dublin these days is not easy, and two of its most famous women can attest to that. Both of them appeared in 1988 as part of the Dublin Millennium celebrations, and although they have left their original abodes they are integral to the city’s fabric. Anna Livia and Molly Malone may have been ‘Girls on Tour’ but that situation will be corrected in the future with the completion of the LUAS extension around College Green.
Anna Livia – float on!
Anna Livia, the bronze monument created by Eamonn O’Doherty, was commissioned by Michael Smurfit in memory of his father Jefferson Smurfit, and presented to the city. It was situated on O’Connell Street, at the site where the Spire now stands, and soon became known as the Floozie in the Jacuzzi. It was removed in 2001 to make way for the Spire, and now resides in the Croppies Memorial Park (close to the Liffey), a quieter site more suited to her calm, reclining image.
Molly Malone is still ‘on tour’ having moved from Grafton Street to Suffolk Street in 2014, and will be there until 2017 when the LUAS track is finished. Probably the city’s most famous woman, she is based on a fictional 17th century fishmonger who plied her trade on the streets of Dublin and died young.
The statue, designed by Jeanne Rynhart, was presented to the city by Jury’s Hotel Group, and unveiled by Lord Mayor, Ben Briscoe, on 13th June 1988 – Molly Malone Day – and has since become one the most photographed statues in the city. Typically, Dubliners have christened her ‘The Tart with the Cart’ and ‘The Trollop with the Scallop’ and other more profane names. Her new home outside the Dublin Tourist Office has brought her more attention, and although she no longer pushes her wheelbarrow about, in the minds of Dubliners she is very much ‘Alive, alive, oh!’
Molly Malone – ‘Alive, alive oh!’
Even as it approaches its ninetieth year, Bewleys Café is as familiar as a best friend and a place I have always enjoyed. From the moment you approach the shop, depending of course on the direction of the wind, the aroma of fine coffee is enticing. It’s unique, and is appreciated by the patrons who daily pack the quirky, old building.
It opened for business in 1927 after extensive refurbishment, and was inspired by the great Paris and Vienna cafes. The exterior Egyptian decoration reflects the contemporary discovery of Tutankhamen’s Tomb in 1922. The stained glass windows that Harry Clarke created are the highlight of the café, and are really appreciated when lit by strong sunlight. In the late 18th century the building housed Whyte’s Academy, the school where Arthur Wellesley (future Duke of Wellington) and Thomas Moore attended. Robert Emmet, from St Stephen’s Green, a scone’s throw away, was another famous pupil.
Harry Clarke’s wonderful windows
Originally a supplier of tea Bewleys later developed its coffee business, and it is now the biggest café and restaurant in Ireland with a million customers annually. It’s coffee (Arabica beans) is all Fairtrade sourced. The green beans, from Central and South America, are roasted on the premises and soon produce the familiar aroma and flavour. Add this to the in-house made bread, cakes, pizzas and salads and it is easy to see why it is has been Dublin’s favourite restaurant since it opened. It has also been one of Dubliner’s most popular meeting places, and is mentioned in James Joyce’s Dubliners. Other literary figures like Sean O’Casey and Samuel Beckett liked to sit and watch the world go by. That hasn’t changed, and with the hum of lively conversation in my ears, I feel it’s not likely to happen…for a long, long time!
Beans, means…..great coffee!
What is the world’s tallest sculpture?
Well you might be surprised to know that it is The Monument of Light (better known as The Spire) on O’Connell Street, Dublin. It’s just one little gem of information that I found when I was researching my e-book ‘Dublin – Walking With Words’ which will be available in May/June!
Trinity College – front entrance
The guide covers Dublin, and in it you meet many of its most famous sons and daughters and hear what the city meant to them – in their own Words. It takes you on a stroll through its history where you meet James Joyce, WB Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Brendan Behan, Elizabeth Bowen, Phil Lynott, Molly Malone and many others. You will find out where they lived and worked, and how the city influenced them in their artistic endeavors. Whether it was in the Georgian heartland of Merrion Square, along the Grand Canal, Trinity College or some favourite watering-hole, all these places have a story to tell, and with photographs and maps they are brought to life.
The guide is divided into five sections, each one taking about fifty minutes to complete – depending, of course, on how long you may decide to linger in some friendly pub or restaurant and enjoy the atmosphere!
So, if you have a little time in Dublin and wish to ‘get to know the place’ better than some of the locals, then put on your comfortable shoes and ‘Walk the Walk’. (Check out the video below for a preview of your ‘Walk‘. I am very thankful to Derek Gleeson for his kind permission to use his composition as a soundtrack.)