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East door of Dublin Castle. St Patrick (In Ireland around 400 AD) on the right faces off with Brian Boru (High king of Ireland until his death in 1014) on the left.

Expressive king.

This post is because I love doors, and because a friend of mine blogs door photos, and she inspires me. Do you have a blogger friend who inspires you to see the world in a new way?

My intrepid offspring, Tara, and I recently returned from a week in Ireland. Each time a door grabbed my attention, it made me think of Manja (and also Norm, the door blog guy). I began a collection of them. Please take a look at these wonderful doors of early spring in Ireland. When I look at these, I can remember the mood and excitement of the moment when I took the photo.

Our first day Tara was sick in bed (drat the luck!!) and I put on all the warm clothes I had (not quite enough) and walked around by myself in the rain at 41 degrees (5 C) and the voices in my head switched back and forth from “Damn it’s cold,” to “Whoah! That’s cool!” I discovered right away some buildings that look almost identical to each other, facing each other across a carpark. One is a library and one is a museum. I went inside the museum for its free admission and heaters.

Door to the National Library of Ireland, which matches…

…the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology door.

Doors inside the National Museum of Ireland – Archaeology.

The front door of our Airbnb place in Dublin – 2 George’s Quay – between Starbucks and Offbeat Donut.

Look at this magnificently adorned door in Kilmainham Gaol in Dublin.

Over the following week the weather gradually improved. North of Dublin we visited some very very old doorways (albeit no doors) in the Boyne River Valley. I hope you consider that these count:

Entrance to Newgrange, north of Dublin. Built approximately 3200 BC, it’s older than Stonehenge. The oldest doorway I’ve walked through in my life.

Mound of the Hostages at the Hill of Tara has a doorway.

And then we made our way to southern Ireland, where they had more doors!! We were delighted to walk through them when we could.

Entrance to St. Fin Barre’s Cathedral in Cork, glittering in the setting sun. It was behind a gate so this is as close as we got.

At the Muckross Friary in Killarney National Park, a couple more doorways caught my eye. Again, there are no actual doors, but I liked them anyway.

This doorway is the entrance to the cemetery at the Muckross Friary.

Steps lead to a passage through a wall at Muckross Friary.

We parked by this door in the town of Cashel, when we stopped to find a place to eat. I not only love the red colour and the doorknocker, but the knob in the center of the door.

Cashir Castle hosted this sketchy door. Dare you to walk through…

My favourite door of the entire trip. Wood bound in iron, stone, and a guard bird. I thought at first it might be an eagle, but the beak isn’t right. Who is the bird to which we owe our gratitude?

The view out the window of our AirBnb room on George’s Quay, in central Dublin, right on the River Liffey.

Tara and I got up early and caught a city bus to the other side of downtown Dublin. On our second day Tara was feeling better so we could explore together, unlike yesterday. Our first brave thing on this trip had been taking the express bus from the airport and finding our way to the apartment without copping out and hiring a taxi. Our second brave thing was to take the city bus from the apartment to Kilmainham Gaol. We found out the bus we needed, and the stop, by using Google maps. But we didn’t know the fare. While we waited for our bus, we saw fares posted on the outside of a different bus, with a note to use exact change, which we didn’t have! So we hustled back to the main street, found a convenience store and asked for change for the bus, which the shopkeeper graciously complied with, no questions asked. Then we ran back to the bus stop just as our bus was arriving, and hopped on. We used the map on my phone to track our progress and hit the button to stop when we got close. As we thanked the driver, he pointed the direction we should walk for Kilmainham Gaol, and viola! We arrived on time, produced our tickets, and were ushered directly inside.

The Kilmainham Jail opened in 1796 and is important in Ireland for multiple reasons. First of all, it was the first jail to offer individual cells, men separated from women and children, and with a design of cells surrounding a central open area. Our guide explained that this was following the Panopticon design idea from Bentham, in which cells were arranged to make inmates more visible to the jailers.

The outside of Kilmainham Gaol

Walking the hallways inside.

Artwork done by famous inmate Grace Gifford Plunkett.

The open center of the jail – unlike any jail built before it.

Looking into the cells ringing the center.

Graffitti from inmate – likely on his last day there.

Kilmainham Gaol Museum is three stories high.

The jail is currently most famous for its association with imprisonment of political activists, and with the execution of 14 men following the Easter Uprising in 1916. Prior to the trip I had been trying to educate myself on Irish political history and learned about the drastic turn of Irish public sentiment from predominantly neutral on the question of Irish independence, to predominantly in favor. This was because British Troops came in and rounded anyone up that was vaguely associated with the rebellion, or that they simply felt threatened by. They held courts-martial in secret and condemned 90 people to death. Then they began executing them, a few each day, in Kilmainham Jail. One of the Irish Republican leaders, James Connolly, was so injured and sick that he could not hold himself up, and had to be tied to a chair in order to be executed. The public became more agitated each day as they heard about the murders, and finally a stop was put to the executions because elections were coming up and this was not going to help current leaders get re-elected. Our tour guide said that in her opinion, the fallout from the Easter Uprising was the event that changed the tide of Irish history.

And there we were, in the very place where it happened.

Courtyard within the jail complex.

This is the wall at which 13 men were executed in May 1916.

Except for the flag, this is what they saw before they died…if they were not blindfolded. Connolly, the 14th man, was executed down at that end, since it would have been too much trouble to drag him from that door (where he arrived in a stretcher from the hospital) all the way to this end.

We ended the tour in a wonderful museum inside the grounds, and finally went out into Dublin once more. We caught a different bus back to the room, quite comfortable with public transportation already. 😉

the Spire

Cathedral spire

I found it amusing to have a farm truck on the streets of Dublin.

Attractive bank building.

Temple Bar – don’t know why it’s famous, but lots of people were having their photos taken here.

We wandered the streets in the Temple Bar area, since that is the area around our room. We stumbled upon Dublin Castle, and passed on the tour, but happily explored the garden nearby.

Dublin Castle tucked out of sight between city blocks.

Tara in the garden behind Dublin Castle.

Dublin Castle from the garden.

While we were in the garden it began to rain pretty hard and we got wet and even colder. The temperature had been in the low 40s all day and we had about had enough. By the time we got back to the apartment, my fingers were so frozen I couldn’t feel them, and Tara had to get the key into the lock for me. We sat there and dried out a little while, then went back to Mulligan’s for a pint. This time we got to chatting with the bartender and enjoyed ourselves so much we stayed for a second. A patron gave me a hard time for not having a Guinness, and he said if I was going to have one anywhere in Ireland, I needed to have it there. I asked why, and the bartender explained (it has a lot to do with freshness, and exceptionally clean lines). We had earlier decided we weren’t hungry enough to have a Guinness because the beer is so heavy it makes us too full. But after the explanation, Tara and I were convinced.

Oh. I stand corrected. Guinness is a whole new thing if you have it from Mulligan’s. It’s a completely different drink. It’s not even beer, it’s so amazing. It’s a creamy, delicous liquid that’s in a whole separate category. It went down so easy. Yum. I can’t believe the stuff in the states can be called by the same name.

We ended the night playing around on Tara Street.

Do have a pint at Mulligan’s.

Tara at the Tara House, on Tara Street.

One of my many guises

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