Dublin History Two

To the West of centre

 I am using the same map for all three pages of Notes for Walking Tour of Dublin History.  Keep in mind as extensive as this list is, it is not complete.  It is our selected highlights.  Research and most photos by Karin.



George's Street Arcade -- a shopping centre on South Great George's Street. It is a Victorian style red-bricked indoor market of stalls and stores. It opened in 1881 as the South City Markets.

Dublin Castle -- Originally built as a defensive fortification for the Norman city of Dublin, it later evolved into a royal residence, resided in by the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland or Viceroy of Ireland. the representative of the monarchy.  It also served as a military garrison.  It was decided in 1938 that the inauguration of the first President of Ireland, Douglas Hyde would take place in the castle and the complex has been host to this ceremony ever since. The castle is also used for hosting official State visits as well as more informal foreign affairs engagements, State banquets, and Government policy launches, as well as acting as the central base for Ireland's hosting of the European presidency approximately every 10 years.

Dublin Castle was first founded as a major defensive work on the orders of King John of England in 1204.   Completed by 1230, the castle was of typical Norman courtyard design, with a central square without a keep, bounded on all sides by tall defensive walls and protected at each corner by a circular tower.

Through the Middle Ages the wooden buildings within the castle square evolved and changed, the mostTower at Dublin Castle significant addition being the Great Hall built of stone and timber, variously used as Parliament house, court of law and banqueting hall. The building survived until 1673, when it was damaged by fire and demolished shortly afterwards. No trace of medieval buildings remains above ground level today, with the exception of the great Record Tower (ca. 1228-1230); it the sole surviving tower of the original fortification, (its battlements an early 19th-century addition).

The Irish Crown Jewels -- The 'Irish Crown Jewels' was the name by which the Insignia of the Knights of St. Patrick became known. They consisted of the Grand Master's diamond badge set in silver with a trefoil in emeralds on a ruby cross and various other valuable jewels. They were stored in a bank vault, except when in use. In 1903, they were transferred to a safe, which was to be placed in the newly constructed strong room in Bedford Hall. However, the steel safe proved to be too large for the doorway and Arthur Vicars, the Officer of Arms, agreed to them being stored in the Library.

It was discovered that they had been stolen only fIt was discovered tIt was discovered that they had been stolen only fIt was discovered tIt was discovered that they had been stolen only fIt was discovered that they had been stolen only four days before the State Visit of King Edward VII and Queen Alexandra. The King had intended to invest Lord Castletown as a Knight of the Order, but was furious on account of the theft and cancelled the ceremony.

Although under great pressure, Vicars refused to resign. Rumours were spread about his sexual orientation, with the objective of shaming him into leaving. It didn't work, and he refused to appear at the sworn Vice regal Commission, demanded a public royal inquiry instead and accused his second in command, Francis Shackleton (brother of Ernest - the Antarctic Explorer) of the wrongdoing. However, Shackleton was exonerated by the commission, while Vicars was found culpable.on was jailed for misappropriating a widow's savings. Arthur Vicars spent his remaining years as a recluse, in Co. Kerry. The Jewels have never been found.

Inside Dublin Castle:

a) Saint Patrick's Hall - This is the grandest room of the State Apartments, and contains one of the most important decorative interiors in Ireland. Formerly the ballroom of the Lord Lieutenant's administration, today the room is used for presidential inaugurations. It is one of the oldest rooms in the castle, dating from the 1740's. The State dinner hosted by the President of Ireland to welcome Queen Elizabeth ll to Ireland was held here on the evening of May 18, 2011.

b) Throne Room - It contains a throne built for the visit of King  George lV to Ireland in 1821.

c) State Drawing Room 

d) State Dining Room - Also called the Picture Gallery, and formerly known as the Supper Room, this is the oldest room in the castle and largely retains its original decoration, having escaped major modification and fire over the years.

e) State Bedrooms -

d)  State Corridor -

e)  Coach House and Castle Garden at rear of Castle marks the spot where Dublin it took its name --from a dark tidal pool in the River Poddle a short distance to the north.

Dublin Gardens:  Site of Balck Pool


Dublin Gardens orginal black pool


The Chester Beatty Library - Dublin Castle -  is an art museum and library which houses the great collection of manuscripts, miniature paintings, prints, drawings, rare books and some decorative arts assembled by American born, Sir Alfred Chester Beatty (1875-1968). Its rich collections from countries across Asia, the Middle East, North Africa and Europe opens a window on the artistic treasures of the great cultures and religions of the world. Chester Beatty Library was named Irish Museum of the year in 2000 and was awarded the title European Museum of the Year in 2002.

Egyptian papyrus texts, beautifully illuminated copies of the Qur'an, the Bible, European medieval and renaissance manuscripts are among the highlights of the collection. In its diversity, the collection captures much of the richness of human creative expression from about 2700 BC to the present day.

St. Patrick's Cathedral -- Founded in 1191, and is the largest church in Ireland. It is now Church of Ireland.  The most famous dean was Jonathan Swift.  Music plays an integral part in the daily life of the Cathedral; the choir sings two services every day during school terms.  Very lengthy history, too long for here. 

Marsh's Library -- Located just behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral on St. Patrick's Close, the Queen Anne building was founded in 1701, by Archbishop Marsh (1638 - 1713).  It was the first public library in Ireland. The interior has beautiful dark oak bookcases, each carved with lettered gables, topped by a mitre.  The three elegant wired alcoves or ‘cages’ where the readers were locked with rare books, remain unchanged.

Francis Street -- Since the 18th Century, Francis Street has been synonymous with the finest furniture and skilled craftsmanship. Now with its array of antiques, curios, contemporary art, handcrafted stationery, object’s d’art, artisan foods, antique jewellery, beautiful Irish silver and wealth of other collectible pieces, Francis Street is the perfect place to treat yourself to something special or pick up an original gift.

The Liberties -- Dublin grew from two small settlements at the confluence of the Rivers Liffey and Poddle: Áth Cliath (The Ford of Hurdles) and Dubh Linn (The Black Pool).  In the 12th century The Augustinian monks of the Abbey were given extensive lands to the west of the city, as well as in Dublin and Meath, and certain privileges and powers to control trade within their ‘liberty’.

With the dissolution of monasteries by King Henry VIII in the 16th century, the ecclesiastical lands passed into the ownership of William Brabazon, an ambitious courtier of the king. The Brabazons, who later became Earls of Meath, dominated the area as landowners for the next 300 years and different generations of the family were responsible for many of the urban developments we recognize today. The mercantile character of the area attracted generations of tradesmen and crafts. This is the original industrial suburb of Dublin, with an extensive tradition of brewing, distilling, tanning, weaving and trade in agricultural produce.

During 19th century, The Liberties was dominated by the great brewing and distilling families, most notably the Guinness family, who from 1759 built and developed the world’s largest brewery at St James Gate.  Renowned distillers Powers, Jameson, Millar and Roe were all located here, creating a Victorian cityscape of chimneystacks, mills and bustling streets.  The charming enclaves about Gray Street and John Dillon Street are examples of modern new homes built for workers by the Dublin Artisan Dwelling Company, while the Iveagh Trust Buildings on Patrick Street remain beautiful examples of the first ‘flats’ built for Dubliners.

The ancient ‘liberties’ were finally abolished and subsumed into the city in the 1840’s, however the name ‘The Liberties’ remained. Today, it retains its distinctive character and curious detachment from the life of the wider city.  It’s a place to discover and enjoy: a place of evocative place names, engaging architecture, vibrant street life and strong community according to its promoters.

National College of Art and Design / (James Power Distillery) -- The John’s Lane Distillery, founded in the year 1791 by James Power, an innkeeper from Dublin, now houses the National College of Art. 

So what has become of the distillery itself?  Three pot stills were spared and can still be seen today, outdoors, green with time and neglect. Part of the original Kiln building is still distinguishable from its circular shape and houses the College’s library upstairs. Two of the original five Engine Houses have survived, the most notable being Engine House No. 5 with its beam engine of 250 horse power manufactured by Turnbull, Grant and Jack of Glasgow in 1886. The double-faced clock, admired by Barnard, set in the wall of the Engine House can still be seen today.

The College of Art and Design is not open to visitors as such, however, they are most amiable, and will accommodate anyone who wants to come in to see what is left of the distillery. Call into reception at the college from the Thomas Street entrance, and explain that you would like to see the pot stills and old distillery. The Engine Room is not open for viewing, but you can wander at your ease in the grounds of the College where you can admire the stills, chimney stack and remaining architecture.

NCAD started as a private drawing school in 1746 and has become a national institution educating over 1,500 day and evening students as artists, designers and art educators.

Guinness Brewery-- -- St. James's Gate Brewery is a brewery founded in 1759 by Arthur Guinness.  It became the largest brewery in Ireland in 1838, and was the largest in the world in 1914, covering 64 acres. Although no longer the largest brewery in the world, it is still the largest brewer of stout in the world.  The Guinness Storehouse vies with Cliffs of Moher for most visited place in Ireland.  Visit info:  Storehouse

St. James’ Gate in Dublin was traditionally a main starting point for Irish pilgrims to begin their journey on the Camino de Santiago (Way of St. James). The pilgrims’ passports were stamped here before setting sail. It is still possible for pilgrims to get their passports stamped here, and many still do. Interesting in pilgrimage in the era of Facebook?  Read this

Brazen Head Pub -- The Brazen Head is officially Ireland's oldest pub, dating back to 1198. While it is unclear how much of the original 11th century coach house is still intact there is a palpable sense of history within these timeworn walls.  Past patrons, are such literaries as James Joyce, Brendan Behan and Jonathan Swift as well as such revolutionaries as Robert Emmet, Wolfe Tone, Daniel O'Connell and Michael Collins.   

Tailors' Hall, Old Dublin Guild Hall


Tailor's Hall -- Home to National Trust for Ireland. This special building is an early Georgian Guild Hall, beautifully restored as the headquarters of An Taisce, The National Trust for Ireland. The Hall was the meeting place of the Guild of Merchant Tailors from 1706 to 1841 and has figured in many historical Irish events. It was the meeting place of the ‘Back Lane Parliament’, and the United Irishmen, and was also used for everything from society balls to fencing classes over the centuries.

The Great Hall is a lavish venue while The Lower Hall is more redolent of the convivial taverns of its time with its distinctive fireplace, stone walls and heavily beamed ceiling.  Difficult to see from the street but admission is free and open during normal office hours.

Christ Church Cathedral -- Christ Church is the elder of the capital city's two medieval cathedrals, the other being St. Patrick’s.  Christ Church Cathedral is located in the former heart of medieval Dublin, next to Wood Quay at the end of Lord Edward Street. However, a major dual carriage-way building scheme around it separated it from the original medieval street pattern which once surrounded it.  As a result, the cathedral now appears dominant in isolation behind new civil offices along the quays, out of its original medieval context.

The cathedral was founded probably sometime after 1028 when King Sitrick Silkenbeard, the Hiberno-Norse king of Dublin made a pilgrimage to Rome. The church was built on the high ground overlooking the Viking settlement at Wood Quay. 

Henry ll attended the Christmas service at the cathedral in 1171. According to the cathedral guidebook this was the first time Henry received Holy Communion following the murder of Thomas Becket by Henry's knights in Canterbury.  During the Reformation period In 1539, King Henry Vlll converted the priory to a cathedral with a dean and chapter and worked to ensure Christ Church adhered to his new church structure.  King Edward VI formally suppressed St Patrick's Cathedral and, on 25 April 1547, its silver, jewels and ornaments were transferred to the dean and chapter of Christ Church.

The foundations of the nave, resting in peat, slipped in 1562, bringing down the south wall and the arched stone roof (the north wall, which visibly leans, survived, and largely dates back to 1230. The cathedral was extensively renovated and rebuilt from 1871 to 1878 and over the years since.

Christ Church also contains the largest cathedral crypt (63.4m long) in Britain or Ireland, constructed in 1172-1173. Having been renovated in the early 2000’s, it is now open for visitors.

For most of their common history, both Christ Church and St Patrick's held the status of cathedral for the Dublin diocese, a rare arrangement which only ended following the move to disestablish the Church of Ireland. In early times, there was considerable conflict over status but under the six-point agreement of 1300, Pacis Compositio, still extant, and in force until 1870 established elaborate, formal procedures for sharing status. 

To this day, the seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, St. Mary's, is known as a "pro-cathedral" in acknowledgement of the fact that the Holy See recognizes Christ Church as the rightful seat of the Roman Catholic Archbishop.

Continue to the balance of Dublin History Highlights

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