It has played a part in Irish life for centuries and Dublin Castle had its origins back in time of the Vikings. It was originally settled on the high ground close to the Poddle and Liffey rivers and provided excellent an defence. However, with the Norman invasion in 1169 the old structure was demolished and a more permanent building was erected. King Henry II implemented this phase, which was completed in 1230 and was the beginning of the ‘Castle’ as we know it today. The Poddle was diverted underground and its water used to fill the moat that surrounded the fortress. Typical of Norman design there was a tower at each corner and the Record Tower (1228) is the only surviving one.
Over time many other buildings were added, especially in the Georgian period. The Treasury Building in the lower yard, the first purpose built office space in Dublin, was completed in 1714. In the upper yard the Bedford Tower, named for the Duke of Bedford who was then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, was constructed in the 1750s. And it was from here in July 1907 that one of the most infamous events in the Castle’s history took place when the Irish Crown Jewels were stolen on the eve of the visit of King Edward VII. They have never been recovered.
As the centre of British power it was often challenged with it coming under attack during Robert Emmet’s short-lived rising in 1803 and Easter 1916. British power ceased on the 16th January 1922 when Michael Collins took possession on behalf of the new Irish Free State.
An exhibition of sand statues is now held every August in the upper yard. It has become a favourite with locals and tourists alike, with different characters and themes being addressed. While taking a photograph of Samuel Beckett a man beside me commented that ‘Becket was not only a sound man, but now he was a sand man, too.’ The striking image of the ‘Feet of Sand’ seemed very appropriate in a place with such sensitive political overtones.
Feet of Sand
Also in the upper yard are the State Rooms which were originally constructed for the Lord Lieutenant’s personal accommodation and entertainment. Nowadays, these lavishly furnished rooms – St Patrick’s Hall, Throne Room, State Drawing Room and State Corridor – are used for Government engagements including the inauguration of Presidents and State visit ceremonies.
St Patrick’s Hall
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.)
Even the Sun got in on the act yesterday as the crowds filled the quaysides where forty tall ships drew gasps of admiration and brought many a smile to young and old alike. It was a very colourful experience with flags flying high in the easy, warm breeze and sailors in uniform happily posed with sightseers. Everywhere people enjoyed themselves and joined lengthy queues to board the ships and see the mass of sail and ropes and marvel at the gleaming, polished decks. Both sides of the Liffey were busy as traders did a brisk business in both captains’ and pirates’ hats and T-shirts with maritime images. Music from local jazz bands floated down the river and mingled with the aromas from the numerous restaurants. There was something for everybody and photographers made the most of the rare opportunity, thankful for the Sun’s unexpected appearance. It’s been a long time since so many tall ships have berthed in Dublin, but the crowds in their vast numbers certainly voted with their feet and took away many happy memories. Ships ahoy, indeed, and although their time here was fleeting, we are already looking forward to their return. Sail on!
Tall ships on the Liffey