Six Hidden Gems to Explore in Dublin 8

Now in its third year, “Culture Date with Dublin 8” takes place next weekend May 17 – 19 with over 30 free and specially-curated events in some of Dublin 8’s top historical landmarks. We catch up with the custodians of some of the participating venues and ask them to tell us about the hidden gem in their institution …

CHRISTCHURCH CATHEDRAL Ruth Kenny, Education Officer 

Enter Christ Church Cathedral, look down, and you will discover one of Ireland’s most beautiful floors. Made up of 84,000 tiles in 64 designs – mostly 19th-century copies of the original medieval floor tiles – the nave and side aisles are a riot of colour and pattern. Strikingly modern black and white chevrons sit beside graceful fleur-de-lis, flowers and a menagerie of animals; foxes, birds, lions and griffins in shades of terracotta, rich red and moss green. This visual feast has also inspired a new line of scarves, bags and purses in the cathedral’s revamped shop.

Christchurch is hosting a free tour on Saturday, May 18, where visitors will have an opportunity to ring the Cathedral’s famous bells.

ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL The Very Reverend Dr William Morton

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has been at the heart of the history of Dublin 8 for 800 years. It is an integral part of the city’s skyline and, on the inside, is full of unexpected and quirky stories from the past. Most Dubliners don’t realise that the Cathedral is the final resting place of approximately 600 people including the Saint Patrick’s most famous Dean; Jonathan Swift. He wrote the world famous Gulliver’s Travels during his time at the Cathedral. Swift donated all of the money he had made in his life toward the creation of another gem of Dublin 8, St Patrick’s Hospital.

Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has a free guided tour of its tower and roof space on Saturday, May 18.

MARSH’S LIBRARY Dr Jason McElligott, Director

Eleazar Albin published the gorgeous A Natural History of Birds in the 1730s with 101 copper-plate engravings of birds from around the world. It is, for many people, one of the most attractive books ever produced. To my mind, the greatest treasures in Marsh’s Library are the original hand-drawn and hand-coloured images prepared on vellum by Eleazar and his daughter Elizabeth in advance of producing the plates for the printed book. The drawings are so lifelike and the colours are so vibrant that this manuscript never ceases to amaze me. The theft of a small number of the images during the 19th century means that today this manuscript is guarded very carefully.

On Saturday, May 18, Marsh’s Library will host a LEGO hunt for children with mini-figures of the famous (and not so famous) writers who have visited the historic galleries over the centuries.

IRISH NATIONAL WAR MEMORIAL GARDENS Maeve Casserly, Dublin City Council Historian in Residence, South-East Area

The Irish National War Memorial Gardens are a great example of the rich history we have on our doorstep in Dublin 8. The Gardens were built to remember those who died in the First World War and designed by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens. They have a complex history of their own. The first idea for a memorial site, proposed in 1919, was in Merrion Square, and when the decision to move it to Islandbridge was made, building work was often interrupted. The main work took place between 1933 and 1939, with the workforce drawn evenly of ex-British Army and Irish National Army servicemen. Even after completion, the Gardens were not officially opened until July 1 2006, the 90th anniversary of the Somme, at a ceremony attended by President Mary McAleese. Today the Gardens are managed by the OPW where you can book an appointment to see the Irish War Memorial Records, illustrated by Harry Clarke. Strolling along the Liffey you can listen to “Voice of Memory”, a sound art installation by Christina Kubisch, launched in June 2016. The Gardens remain the focus of many commemorative events today.

On Sunday, May 19, The Irish National War Memorial Gardens will host a family day, with circus performers, stilt walkers and historical reenactments of WW1.

GOLBDENBRIDGE CEMETERY Mervyn Colville, Deputy CEO, Glasnevin Trust

Glasnevin Trust has re-opened Golden Bridge Cemetery as a working graveyard. 189 years on from the first burial and 148 years since its “closure”. Not only will it be open to new burials but the cemetery is inextricably linked with the local community’s efforts to revitalise the area. Working in conjunction with Richmond Barracks and Dublin City Council, the cemetery will be reintegrated into the Dublin 8 community. The cemetery will gradually be refurbished, the Gate Lodge restored and also become a community resource. Richmond Barracks will continue to incorporate tours of the cemetery as part of their offering. Golden Bridge contains many historically significant and interesting graves, including; W T Cosgrave, politician, revolutionary, first head of government of the Irish Free State; Frank Burke a member of the Irish Volunteers who was killed in the South Dublin Union; and Eugene Lynch an 8-year-old boy killed during the 1916 Rising.

On Saturday, May 18 GoldenBridge Cemetery will host a concert in the Temple featuring the James Brass Band.

KILMAINHAM GAOL Aoife Torpey, Kilmainham Gaol Archivist

Kilmainham Gaol Museum has many unusual and interesting items on display, including two hand-drawn atlases, which were written and illustrated by Patrick Lynch of Kildare who was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol for ‘Treasonable Practices’ as a result of his involvement in the 1798 Rebellion. The first volume contains detailed drawings and a handwritten description of each county in Ireland. The second contains maps of “all the republics, States, Empires and Kingdoms in the known world.” Lynch said that he created the atlases ‘to pass away some gloomy hours in my loathsome prison’. He spent four years imprisoned in Kilmainham and was released on April 9 1802.

On Saturday, May 18, Kilmainham Gaol’s curator will be giving a free tour of their permanent collection and presenting some new Civil War items that have never previously been on display.

Penny McCormick

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