Tuesday, June 3, 2014

St. Patrick's Park

St. Patrick is the international icon- religious and secular- of Ireland. I think they appreciate him more than Bono, but it must be a close margin. St. Patrick, after all, brings to Ireland piles of cash in tourism and international sales of Guinness year after year.

In Dublin, the stoniest monument to the man himself is the pointy-Gothic St. Patrick's Cathedral. Hilariously, the cathedral is not Catholic. That's right, St. Patrick, the Catholic-est symbol of the officially Catholic nation, has a Protestant Anglican cathedral bearing his name today. Even funnier, the Anglicans have another large cathedral, Christ Church, just a few hundred feet uphill from St. Patrick's. The truth is truly stranger than fiction.

St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin, Ireland
St. Patrick's Cathedral

Both cathedrals (Christ Church and St. Patrick's) charge a "voluntary" admission fee to enter and explore, so it goes without saying that we have never set foot inside. St. Patrick's has the advantage of a pleasant but small public park next to the church grounds, allowing locals (and very few tourists) a chance to relax in green space and admire the many angles of the huge church.

St. Patrick's Cathedral Dublin, Ireland
Another Angle

The church was built upon the spot where St. Patrick allegedly baptized the Viking king of Dublin. It was known as St. Patrick's Well, and it sat on the now-underground River Poddle, which flowed through town and met the River Liffey near the spot upon which Dublin Castle sits today.The church was eventually seized by the Anglicans and has been Protestant ever since.

The park is small but quite pleasant. There is a nice stretch of green space, footpaths, and benches. A fountain highlights the center of the park.

Obligatory Cory-Looking-At-The-Shallow-Nasty-Water Shot Dublin, Ireland
Obligatory Cory-Looking-At-The-Shallow-Nasty-Water Shot

Decorative flower gardens are planted with different flowering annuals and perennials, especially Sara's favorite tulips, which bloom much earlier here than our tulips in Iowa.

Tulip Closeup
Extreme Tulip Closeup

The church has a long literary connection, going back to the days when Jonathan Swift, author of Gulliver's Travels was the Dean of the Cathedral. As such, one side of the park is lined with a sort of wall of fame of Irish literary heroes. Each memorialized writer has a plaque with a bronze headshot, birth-and-death dates, and notable works. Like a literary baseball card with batting average, stolen bases, RBI, and ERA.

Literary Parade St. Patrick's Park Dublin, Ireland
Literary Parade

Literary Parade Joyce Plaque
Literary Parade Joyce Plaque

The park is pleasant and quiet. It seems that most of the tourists who drop their hard-earned cash going to the church don't have time to step out into the rainshine (that's the standard weather in Ireland, blue skies and bright sun with rain falling at the same time) and enjoy the free park. 

I haven't been in the church, but my guess is that the best views are to be had from St. Patrick's Park.

Totally Unsolicited Travel Tips

  1. St. Patrick's Park is just west of City Centre. To get there, you'll need a good map- not the free cartoon map from the hotel. There isn't a handy one or two turn set of written directions to get to the park. The park is bordered by Bride Street on the east and Patrick Street on the west. Easiest trip is from Christ Church, head south on Werburgh Street (which turns into Bride Street) or Nicholas Street (which turns into Patrick Street) and follow downhill to the big pointy building.
  2. Using your map, mobile device, or the tourist info signs, one can navigate either back north to Christ Church or east back to Grafton Street.
  3. Decent shopping can be found up and down nearby Camden Street. If you are finished with the shopping on and near Grafton and still want more shopping, check out the charity shops, food markets, and home stores on Camden.

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