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Hello and welcome to this weekend’s walk.
Today we are off for a stroll around the Casino at Marino…. and hey before you panic, we are NOT off on a gambling spree to anything like Vegas !!!
So, this is not going to cost a cent , nor will we get rich quick … come along with me to the northside of Dublin to the village Fairview, and right behind it the neighbourhood of Marino.
Lets park the car and have a look around. Marino stands in the area that was once the demesne owned by James Caulfield , Lord Charlemont who lived here in the 18th Century. The name Marino is taken from The Italian town of the same name that stands in the Provence of Lazio.
In the grounds he constructed a Casino – not a gambling hall – but from the 18th Century Italian word “ Casino “ , from the Italian word “ little House “ .
What we are looking at is a summer house , a pleasure house or folly . It is a miniature yet perfect example of neo classical architecture, and it has been beautifully restored for us to visit and enjoy.
Let’s take a closer look. The inspiration to build the Casino came after lord Charlemont’s visit to Italy and the construction began around 1750 and was completed in 1775. The Casino was surrounded by beautiful parklands, ornamental lakes and streams.
The Building is small- its only about 50 feet square , and looks like a single floor building. In fact this is an illusion – there are in fact 16 rooms within the Casino, and these are spread over three floors. The windows are slightly curved and there are many other architectural tricks involved.
Sadly , its closed due to the pandemic , but we will do our best to peep through the windows.  I’m told there is a kitchen , servants rooms, Dining room , reception rooms and bedrooms inside the building .
Underground there is a tunnel that connects the casino to the main house , but its now blocked off.
However during Irelands struggle for freedom over a hundred years ago, the tunnel was used as a secret shooting range by the revolutionary soldiers .
Let’s enjoy the May sunshine and marvel at the amazing building, in fact this is my first time to take a proper look around as its just off the beaten track, and yet another amazing site that is on my very doorstep.
As we walk back to the car where we parked it in Fairview, I have to share an amazing story about this village. It was here in November 1951 that the neighbourhood was terrorised by a lioness who had escaped. The lioness was owned by a local man , Bill Stephens who was a lion tamer for a local circus. It was winter time and as the circus was not touring Stephens kept his lions on a piece of waste ground in the locality .( bet that does not happen these days ) . The escaped lioness mauled a local petrol pump attendant , prowled around a local schoolyard and attacked Stephens himself before being cornered and shot by police. The story remains an urban legend to this day .In fact there is a wonderful documentary made by film maker Joe Lee about the incident , and indeed Circus days in Ireland in the 1950’s called Fortunes wheel… you might be able to find it on line.
On that interesting note lets head home, I do hope that you enjoyed coming with me today.
Take care and all the best, Stephen

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Sláinte , Stephen.

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