Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Dublin Castle State Apartments

Thanks again to our main source of free tips, Dublin Event Guide for reminding me that on the first Wednesday of each month, all paid sites operated by Heritage Ireland (OPW) are free! Most OPW sites are always free, but some do have nominal admission charges. Kilmainham Gaol is a very classy and very worthwhile museum, even for 6 Euros. Newgrange Passage Tomb is also worth dropping a few bucks to see.

One Dublin paid OPW site about which I had my doubts was the Dublin Castle State Apartments. I have been to and around Dublin Castle many times before. The grounds of the castle, including the main courtyard, Dubh Linn Garden, and Chester Beatty Library are all free to visit- but to go inside, you'd better be ready to cough up some Euro Monopoly money, a teal-tinted 5 Euro note, to be exact.

...But not last Wednesday! The State Apartments were open for free, and I was finally going to see what all the fuss (and all the money) was about.

The first stop on the self-guided tour is the Battle Axe Landing, named in honor of the early Viking settlers who became the first of many foreign invaders in Ireland more than 1000 years ago.

Battle Axe Landing Dublin Castle
Battle Axe Landing

Versailles-Light Dublin Castle
Versailles-Light

The State Apartments here in Dublin Castle reminded me immediately of our visit to the Palace of Versailles outside of Paris... but not as large or as extravagant. The carpeting was plush, the gold leaf was generous, and the chandeliers were plentiful- just to a smaller degree than those in France.

The throne room was reserved for visits from the King and Queen when Ireland was still a British colony. What is now the Portrait Gallery was used as a hospital for injured veterans after World War I, known here as The Great War. Ireland had very little involvement in World War II, so when people refer to "The War" here, they mean WWI.

The Ol' Throne Dublin Castle
The Ol' Throne

Portrait Gallery Dublin Castle
Portrait Gallery

Yo, Bro! Check out this Anchor! Dublin Castle
Yo, Bro! Check out this Anchor!

Gothic Windows Dublin Castle
Gothic Windows

The highlight of the State Apartments (for me) was St. Patrick's Hall. This blue room is decorated with the heraldry or the families in The Order of St. Patrick. It used to be a ballroom and once hosted fancy British State functions and dinners. Now it hosts Irish State functions and dinners. This room has been used for the swearing-in ceremonies for every President of Ireland.

St. Patrick's Hall

I'm glad I caught the State Apartments on a free day. I'm a bit on the fence about the value in paying the entrance fee. It isn't nearly as important or as thought-provoking as Kilmainham Gaol, but it's ok.

The entrance fee also covers a tour of the Medieval Undercroft and the Chapel Royal, and we'll take a look at those in the next post.

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