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Thursday 23rd May
A Walk Through Dublin - Page One

May the road rise with you
This is an Irish blessing wishing a pleasant and easy journey.

A Walk through Dublin with Sally

Built in the time of the Vikings, Dublin City is centered around the River Liffey, which divides it between North and South Dublin. Although the city centre may be small enough for one to walk from one side to the other, it has extended greatly into suburban areas. Along the coast line heading north, Marino, Clontarf, (renowned for the famous battle in 1014), North Bull Island, (a sanctuary for migrating birds), Dollymount, Sutton, Howth, Baldoyle, Portmarnock, Malahide and Swords, are easily accessible. Likewise on the southward coastline, Sandymount, Merrion, Booterstown, Blackrock, Monkstown, Dun Laoghaire, Sandycove, Dalkey and Killiney are within easy reach.

Howth occupies the peninsular part of North Dublin Bay. Its five hundred feet high hills afford splendid panoramas of the surrounding countryside and sea. From Howth Head, Ireland's Eye, (with its bird sanctuary and Martello Tower), Lambay and other islands, are clearly visible. Howth was superseded by Dun Laoghaire as an arrival point for commercial sea traffic in the early 1830's. Howth is an important base for the local offshore fishing industry.

Sandycove's main features are, a swimming area known as the 'Forty Foot', (formerly a bastion for male only bathing) and a restored Martello Tower. This was the starting point for James Joyce's epic novel, 'Ulysses'. The tower is now a Joycean Museum.

Killiney, (sometimes called Ireland's Bay of Naples), is on the south side of Dublin Bay. Like Howth, its hills offer wonderful views of Dublin Bay and Dalkey Island.

O'Connell Street runs north from O'Connell Bridge. Daniel O'Connell's Monument lies at the entrance to the street. The monument was sculptured by John Henry Foley and unveiled in 1882. The Act of Emancipation (1829) is held up by a figure representing Erin. Other figures represent the church, the professions, the arts and the working class.

O'Connell Street and its tributaries, Henry Street, North Earl Street, Talbot Street and Mary Street, form one of the main shopping areas in Dublin. Off Henry Street is the famous Moore Street fruit and vegetable market with its colourful, loquacious stall holders.

The General Post Office and most of the buildings in O'Connell Street were destroyed during the fighting in 1916. Opposite the Post Office is Clery's Deptartment Store, established in 1883. Destroyed during the fighting of Easter Week, it reopened in 1922. A popular rendezvous is 'Under Clery's clock'.

Back to the junction of Henry Street and O'Connell Street continuing northward, two hotels, the Royal Dublin and the Gresham lie almost facing each other. In the center of the road is a long horizontal statue, mockingly called 'The Floozy in the Jacuzzi'. Whether or not it was meant to replace Nelson Pillar, (blown up on 8th March 1966, by persons unknown), is not clear.

The next junction, part of a cross-road, leads to Parnell Street and Parnell Square. The Rotunda Hospital is situated in Parnell Street, occupying four acres of land. It owes its foundation to Dr. Bartholomew Mosse and his architect Richard Cassels. The first performance of Handel's 'Judas Maccabaeus' (in the Music Hall in Fishamble Street, Dublin), helped to raise funds for the building. The foundation stone was laid in 1752 and the first patients were received in 1757.

Around the corner in Parnell Square is the Gate Theatre. In 1930 the Great Supper Room of the Rotunda's Assembly Rooms was given over to form the Theatre. Its fame quickly spread internationally under the direction of Michael MacLiammour and Hilton Edwards. Among the people who started their acting careers there are, Orson Wells and James Mason.

In Parnell Square North is the Garden of Remembrance, opened by President de Valera, on Easter Monday 1966, the golden jubilee of the 1916 Rising. This was once part of the Rotunda gardens. Opposite the garden are the Dublin Writers' Museum and the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art (Hugh Lane Gallery). The London studio of Francis Bacon was secured by the Gallery in early 2000. The studio had remained exactly as it was when last used by the artist. The entire contents, including scraps of paper and dust, were photographed and catalogued. The room, floor, ceiling, walls, doors and all contents, were taken to the Hugh Lane Gallery and are at present being reassembled. The installation is due for completion in late 2000, at a cost of two and a half million pounds.

Starting at O'Connell Bridge again and going south, a 'V' junction with D'Olier Street to the left and Westmoreland Street to the right, lead to College Street and College Green. They partly skirt Trinity College which was founded by Queen Elizabeth 1 in 1592. The College occupies forty-odd acres of land. The Library in Trinity College is reputed to be one of the world's greatest research libraries. It houses Irish medieval manuscripts, including the world famous Book of Kells, the Book of Durrow and the Book of Armagh (containing the Life and Confessions of St. Patrick).

Across the road from Trinity College is the Bank of Ireland. The building, designed by James Gandon, was originally built as the House of Parliament. Later it was adapted for use as the Bank of Ireland. Crossing over from the Bank, keeping Trinity College on the left, the road leads to the fashionable Grafton Street, where street entertainment is guaranteed. This pedestrianised shopping area leads to St. Stephen's Green, a well kept park which has lakes, wooded walks, lawns and flower beds. Relandscaped and opened to the public in 1877, it affords a welcome refuge from the busy commercial streets around it.

Standing on O'Connell Bridge, looking westward along the River Liffey, one gets a good view of the Halfpenny Bridge. That name was derived from a toll which was charged until 1919. On the left-hand side of the River and across from the Halfpenny Bridge, is the now famous Temple Bar, one of the oldest areas of Dublin. It lies between the river and Dame Street and comprises a maze of streets with pubs, trendy shops and restaurants. It is an area very much favoured by the younger generation.

Continuing westward along the south side of the river and a short distance from Parliament Street, is the Dublin's Viking Adventure. This building was originally Sts. Michael and John's Church. When Ireland was granted Catholic Emancipation, Daniel O'Connell is reputed to have rung the church bell until it cracked.

A short way along is Fishamble Street, a fashionable area in the 17th and 18th centuries. There, in the newly opened Music Hall, George Frederick Handel conducted the world's first performance of his oratorio 'The Messiah' in 1742. The Music Hall later became the ironworks for Keenan and Sons. The area has recently been modernised. The entrance archway to the Music Hall was being removed recently but was accidentally smashed during the process.

Along the river on the north side stands the Four Courts, one of Dublin's finest buildings. Further along on the same side of the river is the National Museum of Ireland (Collins Barracks Museum). This building, designed by the architect of Trinity College Library, Colonel Thomas Burgh, was first occupied by the British Army in 1701 and known then as the Royal Barracks. After the Treaty of 1921, it was used by the Irish Army and renamed Collins Barracks. The National Museum of Ireland now own the extensive premises and along with displaying wonderful collections of antiques, they organise educational programmes for schools.

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