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BEN FRANKLIN in DUBLIN
Benjamin Franklin, in a letter written in January, 1772, to Thomas Cushing, gave the following account of a visit to the Parliament House, Dublin, in the preceding year:
"Their Parliament makes a most respectable figure, with a number of very good speakers in both parties and able men of business. And I ought not to omit acquainting you, that it being a standing rule to admit members of the English Parliament to sit (though they do not vote in the House among the members), while others are only admitted into the gallery, my fellow-traveller, being an English member, was accordingly admitted as such, but. I supposed I must have gone to the gallery, when the Speaker [Pery] having been spoken to by some of the members, stood up and acquainted the members that there was in town an American gentleman of character, a member or delegate of some of the Parliaments of that country, who was desirous of being present at the debates of this House; that there was a standing rule of the House for admitting members of the English Parliament; that he did suppose the House would consider the American Assemblies as English Parliaments, but this being the first instance, he had chosen not to give any order without receiving their directions.
On the question, the whole House gave a loud unanimous Aye, when two members came to me without the bar where I was standing, led me in and placed me very honorably. This, I am the more particular in to you, as I esteemed it a mark of respect for our country and a piece of politeness, in which I hope our Parliament will not fall behind theirs whenever an occasion shall -offer.
Ireland is itself a poor country, and Dublin a magnificent city; but the appearances of general extreme poverty among the lower people are amazing. They live in wretched hovels of mud and straw, are clothed in rags, and subsist chiefly on potatoes. Our New England farmers, of the poorest sort, in regard to the enjoyment of all the comforts of life are princes when compared to them.
Such is the effect of the discouragement of industry, the non-residence not only of pensioners, but of many original landlords, who lease their lands in grass to undertakers that rack the tenants, and fleece them skin and all to make estates to themselves, while the first rents, as well as most of the pensions, are spent out of the country."
From: Chapters of Dublin.com
Then and Now as we discover it now and then.
Whenever we go to Dublin our time is limited so we carefully plan our itinerary for each day. These pages are mostly notes researched and compiled by Karin in order to get the most from each stop. We are indebted to Google, Wikipedia and the numerous sites that make such information available. Photos mostly by Karin as well. Map at bottom of page.
Starting at the Liffey River, the geographical basis for it all.
Half Penny Bridge -- (Officially Liffey Bridge and before that Wellington Bridge) Built in 1916 to replace a private ferry operation it owes its unique construction to the requirement that if the city or public didn't like the bridge it had to be removed. So it was made of cast iron for easy removal. The owner was to keep the toll the same as for the ferry, a ha' penny. Originally there were turnstiles at each end. In 2001 the city rebuilt the structure so you can cross safely and for free.
Merchant's Arch -- Step off the bridge and walk through the Merchant's Arch, once the formal entry into Temple Bar when it was the center of trading activity along the river. The building was constructed in 1821 as a guild hall by the tailors and as gone through many uses before the current restaurant and bar.
Temple Bar -- This area, too, has had many lives that led to the creation of a modern concept in an old location. Starting with the Vikings about 840 A.D. the city grew around this hub until modern times passed it by. In the 1980's the area was so decrepit that the bus company bought up many blocks in order to build a central bus station. Due to slow progress they began renting low cost space to small shops, restaurants and art galleries. Soon the denizens of this district were campaigning to protect the now quaint character of the area from the bus station development. Architectural heritage won out and the city government provided funding and tax incentives to make this a vibrant boutique, restaurant and nightlife center. In other words a prime tourist magnet.
College Green --
No longer green and no longer the Norse central assembly place.
Yet there is much history to be seen. The big building on the
north side was once the seat of Parliament; now it is the Bank of
Ireland. To the east is Trinity College and to the south
various 19th century buildings.
Westland Row, No 21 --
Oscar Wilde's home:
Originally the home of the Wilde family where Oscar was born
on October 16th 1854. It is a now a part of Trinity College's with
classes in Irish Writing held there.
Row, No. 36/38 -- Royal Irish Academy of Music --
Westland Row, No. 36/38 -- Royal Irish Academy of Music --Founded in 1848 by a group of music enthusiasts and moved to its present address in 1871. The Academy is Ireland’s oldest musical institution.
The poet W.B. Yeats lived at No 82, and Daniel O'Connell at No 58. A number of houses in the square have plaques with historical information on former notable residents, including A.E. (George William) Russell. No 65 - Nobel physicist Schrodinger.
The Square contains a statue of Oscar Wilde, who resided in No. 1, Merrion Square from 1855 to 1876. There are many other sculptures and a collection of old Dublin lamp standards.
Leinster House -- is a complex of buildings, of which the former ducal palace is the core, which houses Oireachtas Eireann (Parliament), its members and staff. First built in 1745 by James FitzGerald, Earl of Kildare. Its first and second floors were used as the floor model for the White House in DC as well as it's stone exterior. (White house architect was an Irishman)
Security does not allow one to see much.
Security does not allow one to see much.
Natural History Museum -- Houses specimens of animals from around the world. Its collection and Victorian appearance have not changed significantly since the early 20th century. Is a part of the National Museum of Ireland.
St. Stephen's Church -- Upper Mount Street - Church of Ireland (protestant). Known as 'The Pepper Canister' because of dome/tower. The name of Mount Street is thought to have been derived from a mound which once stood at the corner of Fitzwilliam and Baggot Street, where gallows were erected for the execution of criminals.
Grand Canal -- is the southernmost of a pair of canals that connect Dublin with the River Shannon. Its sister canal is across the Liffey and is called the Royal Canal. The canal opened in 1804 and the last working cargo barge passed through the Grand Canal in 1960.
Fitzwilliam Street Lower, No. 29 - Beatty House is a museum showing Georgian Life and History. It exemplifies Georgian architecture.
Fitzwilliam Street was once the longest unbroken line of Georgian houses in Europe. The many colored doors of Georgian houses, some on this street, are on popular posters. At one time, all of the exterior doors were the same colour. Research didn’t turn up exactly what colour that was, but it was most likely a neutral shade.
Later, in order to set themselves apart, the residents of Georgian Dublin painted their front doors whatever color they fancied (“red was more durable”), added ornate knockers, elegant fanlights above the door, and wrought iron boot scrapers near the the entrance. Decorated iron coal-hole covers were often embedded in the pavement. Today, most of the houses have their original fanlights, some still with box shaped glass recesses in which a lamp would have been placed. There are also examples of a simple security device in the form of a fan-shaped arrangement of spikes set into the wall beside a window to foil burglars. Sometimes a similar device was inserted inside the fanlight.founded in 1824 by joining three adjacent townhouses and named after William Petty, 2nd Earl of Shelburne.
If you are ready for another break or just like to ogle
gorgeous interiors, I recommend popping into the Shelbourne.
If you are wealthy try their famous High Tea; if just moderately
well off you can have coffee or tea and a pastry; if neither than
just look around and move on to nearby
Stephen's Green Shopping Centre.
If you are ready for another break or just like to ogle gorgeous interiors, I recommend popping into the Shelbourne. If you are wealthy try their famous High Tea; if just moderately well off you can have coffee or tea and a pastry; if neither than just look around and move on to nearby Stephen's Green Shopping Centre.
In the early 1900s, Alois Hitler, Jr. the
half-brother of Adolf Hitler, worked in the hotel while in Dublin.
St. Stephen's Green
was a marshy common on the edge of
Dublin, used for grazing.
That year the Dublin Corporation, seeing an opportunity to
raise much needed revenue, decided to enclose the center of the
common and to sell land around the perimeter for building. The
houses built around the Green were later replaced by new buildings
in the Georgian style and by the end of the eighteenth century the
Green was a place of resort for the better-off of the city. In 1814
control of St Stephen’s Green park passed to Commissioners for the
local householders, who redesigned its layout and replaced it's
walls with railings.
During the Easter Rising of 1916, a group of insurgents established a position in St Stephen's Green and dug defensive positions in the park itself. This approach differed from that of taking up positions in buildings, adopted elsewhere in the city. It proved to have been unwise when elements of the British Army took up positions in the Shelbourne Hotel, at the northeastern corner of St Stephen's Green, overlooking the park, from which they could shoot down into the entrenchments. Finding themselves in a weak position, the Volunteers withdrew to the Royal College of Surgeons on the west side of the Green.
Other notable features of St. Stephen's Green include:
the Fusilier's Arch at the Grafton Street corner which commemorates the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the Second Boer War
a garden for the blind with scented plants, which
can withstand handling, and are labeled in Braille
- found in the northwest co
- found in the northwest corner.
- found in the northwest co - found in the northwest corner.
a group representing the Three Fates located inside the Leeson Street gate (a gift from the German people in thanks for Irish help to refugees after WWll)
the Yeats memorial garden with a sculpture by Henry Moore
a bust of James Joyce facing his former university at Newman House
a memorial to the Great Famine of 1845-1850 by Edward Delaney
a bust of Constance Markievicz on the south of the central garden
Royal College of Surgeons -- dates back to 1784 and is now Ireland’s largest medical school with over 3000 students from 60 countries. During the 1916 Rising, the main college building was occupied by rebel Irish forces, led by Countess Markievicz.
Iveagh House -- built as a private residence of the Guinness family, the mansion had 26 reception rooms and 50 bedrooms (including those on the bachelors’ wing). Although they also lived in England, they retained their other Dublin home at Farmleigh, in Phoenix Park, which was eventually bought by the State in 1999 and is now a Government guest-house. The private Iveagh Gardens at the back of the house were given to University College Dublin in 1908. In 1939 the contents of Iveagh House were auctioned off and the building is now home to the Department of Foreign Affairs.
Powerscourt Shopping Center
- is a specialty shopping centre set in an elegant Georgian house
centrally located just off Grafton Street. Formally, 59 South
William Street was home to Richard Wingfield 3rd Viscount
Powerscourt (1730-1788) and his wife Lady Amelia, who bought the
townhouse to entertain guests during Parliament season; the ultimate
Dublin party house. Be sure to view the facade from
William St. to sense the elegance of the bygone era.
Be sure to view the facade from William St. to sense the elegance of the bygone era.
We are just getting started; there are two more long pages. Obviously too much for one walk or one day. So, please do your research and pick and choose.
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