Hello and welcome to this weekend’s walk.
Dublin Castle stands in the heart of my city, and I am very familiar with this historic site.. more about this later.
Sometimes gems are “ hidden in plain sight”. I visit the Castle several times a week, and realize I have never taken the time to bring you on a walk around this amazing place .. so come along with me today .
The Castle has stood here since the time of King John in the 1200’s . Built on a hill, the Castle has a commanding view over the city and countryside, and was bordered on one side by the river Liffey and on the other by the river Poddle. Over the centuries it was restored and re modelled , and what we see today dates mainly from the 18th and 19th Centuries.
Lets begin our walk by entering through the Cork Hill gate , where once the drawbridge stood and into the upper Courtyard. This yard was originally surrounded by a moat, and four towers at each corner. Lets have a look at the cobbled surface, and the Bedford tower and State apartments. Of course there are all closed these days , but you can come visit these buildings in the future !
Dublin Castle was the headquarters for the English and later British administration in Ireland . The state apartments were the seat for the aristocratic court , headed by the Viceroy who represented the British Monarch. In 1922 the castle was handed back to the new Irish State and today is used for cultural and national events as well as playing host to the inauguration of the Irish President. Within the State apartments you and visit many of the fine rooms that have been beautifully restored.
Lets now head down the hill, through the cross block into the Lower yard.
Have a look on my right : you can still see one of the original towers – this one is named the Record tower, ( and was previously known as the Wardrobe tower – as this was where the King’s clothes were stored ) and attached to it the lovely 19th Century Chapel Royal. Take a look at the fine stonework and lovely decoration as we stroll along.
I have to take a stop beside the Palace Street gate for a moment – This is where the Gift Shop and Café stood … as many of you know we ran the business here at the Castle for many years . Its now permanently closed , but I had many happy times here !! .
Lets swing around and have a look into the Dubh Linn Gardens. Many years ago a deep pool or harbour was formed here where the River Poddle met with the Liffey . It’s name was the Black Pool – or in Irish – “ Dubh Linn “ and this is the root of the name of the city of Dublin !
Another Interesting building that’s right beside the gardens is the Chester Beatty Museum. Named after an American Millionaire that settled in Ireland, Chester Beatty collected a huge range of Asian and Islamic art and artefacts that he donated to the Nation for us to see and enjoy . Admission is free and its really worth a visit.
Our last stop will be at the Assay office ; I visit this place on a regular basis as they have a key role in Irelands Jewellery and precious metals trade. The Company of Goldsmiths, and ancient guild that was formed in 1637 governs the Assay office. Under Irish law all precious articles of jewellery must be submitted to the Assay office before they are sold, and , once passed for purity the Assay office will affix a special stamp or mark to each piece .
For the silver items that we submit the Mark has three parts : the 925 for silver purity ; the Dublin mark ; and the unique maker’s mark ensuring that every piece that we sell can be traced back to our own workshop.
As we leave the Castle through the Ship Street gate, on to Little Ship Street I want to show you one of Dublin’s oddities.. a real “ lost in translation” story. As I just mentioned the name on the street in English is Little SHIP street, yet long ago this street was known as Little SHEEP street, and if you have a look at the Street sign the name in Irish is “ Sraid Na gCaorach Beag “ .. literally translated into “ street of the Little SHEEP”…. so how did SHEEP become SHIP ??????
You can see more photos over on my facebook page – stephenwalshconnemaramarble