IN DUBLIN´S SKY
At the very heart of Dublin´s most famous neighbourhood, the famous Temple Bar, Fitzsimons hotel is located.
Fitzsimosns is one of the best terrace bars in Dublin. The Roof Garden Terrace Bar (as it is called), is the only Beer Garden in the city. Even if it is covered, because the weather conditions of Dublin do not always help to be outside, it is decorated with seasonal plants. You will love its cocktails and the views of the city will be engraved in your heart for ever.
To be able to enjoy a drink in its terrace usually requires a reservation, but you can make it the same day you plan your visit.
The name of the hotel is very interesting and it comes from the middle ages, when the landlord used its “droit de seigneur”, the lord´s right to bed with his female servants. The “droit de seigneur” refers to a presumed privilege which allowed feudal lords to have sexual relations with any maid servant of his fief, who was to marry any of his servants. If the young woman became pregnant after this intercourse, she had the right to have her child recognised by the feudal lord. Recognition of these illegitimate children was not uncommon, but they were not named after the father. In order to make it known that they were not born in wedlock, the suffix “Fitz” was placed before the surname.
Today, families like Fitzsimons or Fitzwilliams are very important and usually belong to the aristocracy or the great bourgeoisie. But let´s not forget those names origin is this: ius primae noctis, meaning “the right of the first night”.
And what to say about the neighbourhood? Nowadays it enjoys most of the city´s cultural activity. The urban legend says Temple Bar takes its name from the pub with the same name, although the reality is that the pub was named after the neighbourhood. It comes from Gaelic word barr which means “way” or “pass”, so it could be translated as "The Temple road"
Where?: 21-22 Wellington Quay, Temple Bar
A PINT OF GUINNESS, PLEASE!
No doubt we cannot leave Dublin without enjoying a malt beer Guinness. It is a stout kind of beer with a strong taste, made with water, barley, malt, hop and brewer yeast.
It is said that the secret of its elaboration is the water coming from the Wicklow mountains south of Dublin. There is people who affirm that its flavour comes, aside from other things, from the malt barley which is slightly roasted. Although others affirm that are fish scales the ones that would give it, together with the other ingredients, its characteristic and delicious flavour as well as its ruby dark colour!
We can enjoy this beer in any pub around town, but you can also do it in its very factory! While discovering its production process. Guinness Brewery (old St James´s Gate Brewery).
This beer is believed to have been the first stout beer. However, the first stout documented reference in relation to a beer was written in 1677, almost 50 years before Arthur Guinness was born.
As a curiosity, Arthur Guinness signed a lease agreement for an abandoned brewery for the next 9000 years for a 45 £ yearly rental fee. The original rental contract can be seen at the Guinness factory museum. Ten years after that, in 1769, Guinness exported the product for the first time, when the owner sent six barrels of beer to England.
This place, the cradle of Guinness, is the perfect place to enjoy one of those delicious drinks, at its perfect temperature! Guinness draught beer must be served at 6 ° C, while Guinness Extra Cold must be served at 3.5° C, following the official indications from the Irish brewery.
But, watch out! It is said that a Guinness has the same calories as a full meal, and mister Guinness had 21 sons!
But there is something else that carries the Guinness name. In 1951, Sir Hugh Beaver who was the executive director of Guinness at that time, went to hunt. He was debating with his companions if the fastest hunting bird was the golden plover or the capercaillie, and then, it occurred to him that a book giving the answers to this kind of questions could be very popular. So he made it, a compilation that would be the Guinness book of Records, published for the first time in 1955. Since then, it is still published every year.
Where? Guinness Brewery, in Jame´s Street 108 in the well known neighbourhood The Liberties.
If you want to get out of the ordinary, go to George Street Arcade. It is the oldest covered market in Ireland, purposely built for this function in 1881, and one of the oldest covered markets in Europe.
It is located at the heart of Dublin, less than 5 minutes walking from Grafton Street, Temple Bar and Trinity College.
In this covered victorian market, you can enjoy independent shops where food stalls have been changed into small vintage cloth and vinyl record shops. There, you can find treasures, bookstores, Irish motif jewellery, wool textiles from Aran… and of course sweets, food and small and charming cafeterias to enjoy an Irish coffee and have dinner.
By the way, do you know how to make a good Irish coffee? You only have to mix Irish whiskey, three spoons of sugar (ideally brown sugar), coffee, and cover it all with two centimetres of cream. Contrary to what we could think, this coffee was invented in the forty´s of the XX century, specifically in a very cold winter at the Shannon airport (Ireland). Because of a delay of a Pan American line, Joe Sheridan had the idea to put whiskey from his country to the coffee to counter the coldness of the passengers….et voilá!
So, if you want a fantastic place to shop not so ordinary details and also to taste the wonderful atmosphere, its antiquity, and a delicious Irish coffee: George´s Street Arcade is your place.
Where? It is very near Temple Bar, in South Great George´s Street.
WITH THE BEAUTIFUL MOLLY
No one will believe you have been in Dublin if you don´t take a picture with one of the most characteristic figures in the city: Molly Malone!
The character of Molly comes from a popular Irish song composed by James Yorkston at the end of the XIX century known as "Cockles and Mussels´´ or "In Dublin´s Fair City". This song has come to be the unofficial hymn of Dublin and has also obtained the condition of Irish hymn. It is almost sure that, if you go out for a few beers in Temple Bar, you will hear this song, either because you hear it from one of the many artists that sing it at the different bars, restaurants or clubs, or because of the many customers that in a given moment of the night will let themselves be carried by emotions and will sing the hymn dedicated to Molly.
But, who was she? It is said that the beautiful Molly Malone was a young girl of impressing beauty and sculptural body, who worked shelling fish and seafood freshly obtained from the harbour of Dublin all around the city during the day... and she had a second job at night as a prostitute.
There are other fictional and romantic stories saying that the beautiful Molly worked shelling mussels and fish during the day and that at night, to survive, she had to work as a prostitute, till she found a noble gentleman who was madly in love with her and retired her when they got married.
Whichever, we need a picture with this legend! When you arrive at the brass statue, you will see that Molly´s necklines are very generous and the part of her breast that is shown is very bright. This is because of the habit of touching the breasts of the figure. Don´t forget to put your hand where it is more bright, not only to have a fantastic picture but to come back to Dublin, as it is assured that Molly gives this privilege.
We can find the sculpture of Molly in Suffolk Street, in front of the Tourist Information Office.
Do you want to know a jail?
Kilmainham Gaol or Kilmainham Jail, today is a museum. It was inaugurated in 1796 replacing the old jail located a few hundred meters away. This jail had a very important role in the history of Ireland, as many leaders of the different groups fighting for independence were recluses here and some of them where even executed inside the jail. It is curious to know that there was no separation of prisoners: men, women and children shared the same space.
The jail tour starts at the chapel, known to be the place where Joseph Plunkett was married to Grace Gifford in the previous hours of his execution by a firing squad. (Joseph was an Irish nationalist, a republican, poet, journalist, revolutionary, leader of the Easter Rising of 1916 and one of the signers of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. Because of his participation in the failed uprising, he was executed here).
The following points to be visited in the prison are the cells where the participants in the revolt of 1916 were confined.
The main lobby of the jail after its modification, which was a reference for the construction of many other jails, specially in the United States, can also be visited.
The tour of the prison finish in the patio where members of the 1916 Rising where shot between May the 3rd and the 12th. Here was also where James Connolly (another leader of the Irish independence) was executed, differentiated from others due to his precarious health state as a consequence of the wounds received during the revolt. Because of his wounds, he was placed near the entrance because of the difficulty to move him.
The last prisoner in this jail was Éamon de Valera, one of the Independence leaders, who left the prison in 1924, date when it was closed.
The place is so singular that films such as "In the Name of the Father" or "Michael Collins" have been filmed here.
If you want to visit it, public bus number 40 will take you here from Trinity College. You will only have to get off in "Inchicore Library", stop 1945.
Founded in 1095, St Michan´s church was, for some centuries, the only church placed north of the Liffey river, but it is specially famous because of the ancient tenants living in its crypts.
St Michan´s church, one of the oldest in the city, had to be reconstructed in 1685 and restored in 1998. It is a temple with a very modest interior, but outstanding for its noble wood carvings. The pipe organ is also carved in fine wood and dates from 1724, being one of the oldest in Dublin it is still used nowadays. Otherwise, it is a small church drawing little attention.
The biggest attraction of St Michan´s is in its depths where some chapels full of coffins show the mummified remains of old citizens of Dublin. In one of the underground halls, the mummified remains of brothers Henry and John Seares who were executed for acting as leaders during the 1798 Revolt are conserved. Other outstanding mummies are one of a nun who has been here for 400 years and a crusader who was cut in two pieces so he could fit into the coffin.
In the adjoining rooms, other open coffins can be contemplated, where nuns covered by dust rest. Some of the mummies have the feet cut because they were too tall to enter in the coffins, but we will also see a hand cut off if the mummy was a thief.
It is said that Bram Stoker was inspired by the crypt of St Michan´s to write its novel “Dracula”.
Composer Georg Friedrich Händel interpreted its famous work “Messiah” for the first time on the pipe organ of the church.
St Michan´s church is not outstanding for its architectural elements or its decoration, but the haunting tranquility of its old crypts full of mummies makes it worth a visit.
Where? Church St. Arran Quay, Dublin 7.
FALSE TOMBS, DRY CATS AND STOLEN HEARTS
If we take a short walk in the central area of Dublin, surely we will find a very old church: Christ Church. In reality it is a cathedral built in 1028 by a Viking king: Sigtygg Sikiskegg. This church was constructed on a high place from where the viking settlement of Wood Quay could be observed.
In 1152, the first Irish archbishop started the extension and reconstruction of this church in nordic style. When Norman English ruled over a great part of Ireland, the old nordic church was replaced by an Anglo-Norman one by archbishop Cumin initiative in a mix of romanesque and gothic styles. This cathedral owned a great number of crypts which where used as foundations. As a result, the building was unstable, which meant collapses and continuous repairs.
The cathedral was used in 1487 for the coronation of Lambert Simnel as "Edward VI", a pretender to the British throne who tried with no success to overthrow Henry VII of England.
During the Victorian period, between 1871 and 1878, the temple suffered a significant restoration avoiding collapses of some parts but assuming drastic changes in the medieval work. Nowadays may be difficult to distinguish the decorations of different periods.
The cathedral holds Richard FitzGilbert de Clare tomb. Better known in the country as Strongbow, he was one of the main leaders of the Norman invasion, who came to Ireland by invitation of king Dermot MacMurrough. His arrival marked the beginning of the English intervention in Ireland. In reality, the medieval tomb in the nave is not really that of Strongbow: the original tomb was destroyed centuries ago, and another middle age tomb was transferred from the Drogheda area (north of Dublin) to the cathedral and placed at the same site of the original, coming to be identified with the original one. Following the cathedral´s records, in the middle age, an oath was taken in front of Strongbow´s tomb. No doubt this noble archer is a character of very great importance for the Irish history, as the invasion that took place from England changed the history of the island.
At the St Lawrence´s O´Toole chapel, the first Irish archbishop and the one responsible for the first extension and reform of this cathedral, a reliquary with the heart of this bishop was kept. This heart was stolen, and until today, nobody knows where it is.
The cathedral has the greatest cathedral crypt of the British Islands and has been rehabilitated recently. It has some historic objects, among them, a sculpture that was in the outskirts of the Tholsel (Dublin´ medieval city hall that doesn´t exist anymore) till the end of XVIII century, and a set of candles that were used the last time the cathedral was used under the roman rite, when catholic king Jacob II of England, after escaping from England, head for Ireland to fight for the throne and attended a solemn mass in the cathedral. Yes, you read well, a roman rite, because this church changed to be a protestant church with the religious reform that took place in the XVI century by Henry VIII. Even nowadays, the Catholic Church claims the cathedral of Christ Church as the cathedral of the catholic diocese.
Inside this spectacular crypt, we can also find the traps in which offenders having been judged by the religious Liberty Court, were held. The thing you will remember the most without a doubt will be the moment you see in a glazed frame a mummified cat and mouse. These two animals were found at the interior of one of the cathedral organ pipes. It is thought that the cat entered running after the mouse and both were trapped in its interior.
Do you know that part of the "Tudor" series was filmed in this crypt?
Where? Christ Church Pt, Wood Quay. Dublin 8. At the heart of the medieval neighbourhood.
Are you an Oscar Wilde fan?
Oscar, together with James Joyce and Samuel Becket, Bram Stoker, Yeats or Jonathan Swift is one of the most famous Irish writers . Who has not read his marvellous stories as The Mockingbird and the Rose or The Happy Prince; or his only novel The Picture of Dorian Gray, or the marvellous De Profundis? Let´s discover some places where his presence is still alive!
We will start this tour in the house where the famous writer was born on October 16th, 1854. It is located in the 21st Westland Row, where a plaque commemorates the event. Very near, we can find the famous Sweny´s pharmacy (1st Lincoln Place), now a bookstore. It was famous all around the world because of the book of James Joyce "Ulises". Here is where the protagonist, Bloom, buys his lemon soaps. And how not! They are still sold, being a nice and original souvenir that we can take away as a gift to a dear person.
Walking a little bit more we will arrive at the 1st of Merrion Square, the family house of Oscar. It was the place where his family lived untill they went to London. There, the gatherings organised by his mother, the poetess Jane Wilde who write by the pseudonym of Speranza, were an important social event.
And how could it not, just in front, we have the Oscar Wilde Memorial. It is an sculpture of the writer contemplating his house with an ironic gesture, from the sculptor Danny Osborne, placed in 1997. And speaking of the Oscar Wilde Memorial, did you know that his own grandson, Merlin Holland being a writer himself , was the model for the sculpture?
Our walk will take us directly to the Oscar Wilde alma mater in Dublin, the Trinity College where he studied the classics for three years. And here, in the Trinity College, we leave you walking between different buildings of the university. Constructed in the XVI century by order of Elisabeth I, you cannot miss to visit its library, one of the most beautiful in the world. It keeps one of the greatest treasures of Ireland, the Book of Kells, a 1200 gospel made by Irish monks.
PEACE IN THE MIDDLE OF DUBLIN
If you want a break in your walk around the city, the best place is St. Stephen Green, a few meters away from Grafton Street one of the streets you will surely walk by.
St. Stephen´s Green has a rectangular form of about 550 by 450 meters, and in the centre of the park there is a great lake that is fed by the waters arriving from the Great Channel of Ireland from Portobello.
Till 1663, this area was out of the city centre of Dublin, and was used for herding cattle, but in 1664 Georgian buildings started to be built around it. As a result, it became the residence of Dublin high society at the end of the XVIII century.
In 1814 the wall surrounding the whole perimeter of this area was replaced by a lattice, and the access to its interior was restricted. Only the neighbours around it had the key of the doors which, in all UK and Ireland, are known as "Garden Key". The free access to the park was allowed in 1877 when, after an Arthur Guinness initiative, the parliament decided the opening so the park could be to be enjoyed by all the city inhabitants. Guinness himself paid the park reassignment in 1880, so there is a statue of him in the centre to thank his decision. In fact, the design has not changed from that time.
Did you know that in 1916, during the Easter Rising claiming the Independence of Ireland, a group of about 250 insurgents formed mainly by IRA members at the orders of Michael Mallin, took control of the park, blocking the access? British Army answered attacking the rebel positions from Shelbourne hotel placed at the northeast corner of the park, forcing the rebels to retreat to the Royal College of Surgeons, where, finally, they were suffocated. Cornices at its days told that during the combat that took place in the spot, there was a moment when a ceasefire was agreed so the park guardian could feed the ducks… Curious, no?
St. Stephen´s Green is at the end of Grafton Street.
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