27 May 2013, Monday
Now duly fortified with my new (though much less lovely) rain hat, I walked up Nassau Street to Kilkenny Design to buy some things—I wanted to get a Nicholas Mosse mug for a friend, for one thing. I first visited the Nicholas Mosse shop out in Co. Kilkenny in 2006, and just fell in love with a particular design on a particular mug, which I have used every single day of my life since then. Gosh, I love that mug. It’s the “Old Rose” pattern. Naturally, on this day, I saw a new pattern, and even though I was sure I’d never love any mug as much as my Old Rose, I had to have it.
When I was done here, I went back to Dawson Street and headed south, stopping at Hodges Figgis, a venerable old Dublin bookstore (founded in 1768, the bookmarks say, although now it’s owned by Waterstone’s, the British equivalent of, say, Waldenbooks, or B. Dalton’s). I did pick up a couple more books on my list.
But this really wasn’t intended to be a shopping tour—I shopped last fall, you’ll remember. No, this was intended to be a sightseeing tour. The parks and churches tour! I’d seen both already on this trip. And my next destination was St. Stephen’s Green—Ireland’s best-known public park.
The visitor’s guide tells us the name, St. Stephen’s Green, dates back to the thirteenth century, when it was adjacent to a a church called St. Stephen’s. The land was marshy and used by locals to graze livestock. In 1635 these twenty-seven acres became, officially, a park, and by the early 1700s—with the advent of Grafton and Dawson Streets—Stephen’s Green was a fashionable location of several promenades. But, as things do, the park deteriorated over a hundred years or so. In 1814 local homeowners took it over—and locked it, which was a source of some contention, until Arthur E. Guinness, a scion of the Guinness brewing family, made it possible for the park to return to public use (in 1877). Guinness also paid for the renovations that made the park what you can see today.
And it is still, after all these years, Stephen’s Green—no name change to honor Arthur Guinness’s generosity and none for Queen Vicky’s husband either. My fave story from the Wikipedia article is this one:
After the death of Prince Albert, Queen Victoria suggested that St Stephen’s Green be renamed Albert Green and have a statue of Albert at its center—a suggestion rejected with indignation by the Dublin Corporation and the people of the city, to the Queen’s chagrin.
So. I entered, really, from a side entrance, if you consider the Fusiliers’ Arch the entrance; I am a goof for having missed that. (However, here is a Flickr walking tour of the park if you’d like—and it starts at the Arch. The Fusiliers’ Arch, at the Grafton Street corner, commemorates the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died in the Second Boer War—1899–1902. They were fighting in the British Army, of course, and in its early days—it was added in 1907—this monument was called “Traitors’ Gate” by Irish nationalists.)
It was a lovely lush day for a walk in the park.
There are a variety of statues in the park, including this one of poet James Clarence Mangan, born James Mangan (1 May 1803, Dublin–20 June 1849). This bust was sculpted by Oliver Sheppard and erected in 1909.
I was cold and wet, so I kept moving through the outer circle of the park. I didn’t have the energy to see every single statue, and haven’t posted all the photos I took of the ones I did see.
Back at the hotel (which was still a few blocks’ hike), I read a little until Gerry got back from work. We’d planned an early supper at a Middle Eastern restaurant—one of our favorite ethnic meals—we’d both discovered independently. Gerry’s office isn’t far from this neighborhood, and walking through one day he’d seen the Damascus Gate restaurant. Meanwhile, I’d heard of it on the blog of my friend Patrick Comerford. You can imagine my delight when we began to compare notes. 🙂 There are many fantastic (yummy-looking from the outside, and also well-reviewed) restaurants within just steps of the Camden Court Hotel, though. It was hard to choose.
After supper we strolled around the neighborhood.
Before we’d even gotten to the canal, we could see what Gerry called, simply, Rathmines Church, but whose official name is the Church of Mary Immaculate, Refuge of Sinners. It has a very distinctive copper dome. The first church was built here and consecrated in 1830; it was enlarged in 1856 and the portico added in 1881. Sadly, much of the church burned in an electrical fire in 1920; the original dome collapsed with a sound that was heard for miles. Reconstruction began immediately, and the dome was replaced with one (constructed in Galsgow) that had been intended for a Russian orthodox church in St. Petersburg, until the revolutions of 1917. So here it landed.
It was a lovely day altogether! Back at the hotel we relaxed, worked, and later watched a movie on the iPad … which was quite convenient! (Also, it was Seven Psychopaths—which was hilarious. Particularly Christopher Walken. OMG.)