Thursday, April 10, 2014

Pat Liddy Tour Continued

More Walking and Talking with Liddy

After the Kilmainham story from Pat Liddy, we continued his walking tour across the street and through a very strange and seemingly out-of-place castle gate into a delightful courtyard leading to the Dublin Museum of Modern Art and the Royal Hospital Kilmainham. The walking tour didn't include the hospital, the museum, or the grounds, but we paused for a short description of the historical importance of the neighborhood.

Richmond Tower Dublin Museum of Modern Art
Richmond Tower

That tower isn't as old as it looks, and it wasn't always standing on this spot in west Dublin. It used to stand in City Centre on the busy quays. It served no real defensive purpose, but was just a garish landmark. Unfortunately, the passage through the gate can only accommodate one vehicle at a time, and the gate became a cause of major traffic jams as City Centre roads became busier. It was finally dismantled and rebuilt brick-by-brick here as the pedestrian entrance to the grounds of the museum and the hospital in 1844. The designer of the gate cleverly carved his own coat-of-arms into the stone above the gate and covered it with a piece of wood painted to match the stone. His plan was to have the wood rot away to reveal his symbol years after his death as a sort of joke from beyond the grave. Maybe it would be less morbid to say it was a personal time capsule...

Not Your Grandmother's Hospital (Unless she was a 19th-Century British Army Vet)

The Royal Hospital Kilmainham isn't a hospital in the modern sense, it served as sort of a retirement home for injured and elderly British soldiers. It was loosely modeled after Napoleon's Hotel Invalides in Paris. After its service for the British ended, it served a variety of purposes until it was finally commissioned as the Dublin Museum of Modern Art.

The grounds around the hospital were used as cemeteries during its years as a care facility. Many important historical British and Irish figures are buried in the these yards. Interestingly, this same site was used by early Irish tribes and Viking settlers as a burial ground centuries before the hospital was built. Sadly, when these remains were discovered as the hospital was being constructed, archaeology wasn't the careful science it is today, and much of the excavation was sloppy and destructive. The 19th-century builders were more interested in getting their buildings finished than cataloguing or preserving thousand-year-old bones.

Much more to be written about the hospital, museum, and grounds, but that will be another post.

Movin' On

After the quick visit inside the hospital grounds, we made our way toward Goldenbridge. On the way, we stopped to have Mr. Liddy point out one of Dublin's many identical Art-Deco libraries in Inchicore. Dublin's literary explosion happened just in that magic sweet spot when Art-Deco buildings were all the rage. Consequently, a number of public libraries were commissioned and designed in this famous and classic style. To save money on building design, city planners built several identical libraries in different outer suburbs.

Art-Deco Public Library Inchicore, Dublin
Art-Deco Public Library Inchicore, Dublin

After the library, we continued to the last leg of this wonderful tour, the Goldenbridge neighborhood... 

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