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The Mermaid at Dublin’s Castle by Ann Treacy
March 3, 2008, 2:38 pm
Filed under: Dublin

Saturday we all went to out to eat for Patrick’s mom’s birthday. (Her actual birthday is February 29!) We met up with Fearghal at the Mermaid in town. It’s a very nice restaurant. We went for lunch so we didn’t bug people too much with the kids. Kate has found a new love of crème brulee. (It was ginger and rhubarb – mmm!)

After lunch we went up to the Dublin Castle. We started at the Gardens. They are public gardens in the middle of the city but they are obscured by the castle – so they are very quiet. The girls enjoyed running around the labyrinth-like patterns in the lawn. (See the video below.)

Next we stopped in at the Chester Beatty Library. He collected materials on religions from all over the world. So we saw very early renditions of the Bible and the Koran. We also learned a little bit about Buddhism, Islam, and Confucianism. Also we visited the rooftop garden – again the girls really enjoyed running around for a while.

Then we toured the Castle, which is more like a palace. We took a few pictures below. Rather than go blow by blow I thought I better just list out what I remembered:

  • The initial Dublin Castle burned down in 1673. There is one tower (the Records Tower) that remains.
  • The Castle used to house the Crown Jewels buy they were stolen in 1907.
  • Hibernia is a Roman word that means winter or never-ending winter. Ireland was not a holiday destinations for the Romans.
  • The Castle was used by the British Monarchy until after the 1916 rebellion.
  • We got to see a number of rooms.
  • The hall is designed to look exactly like Versailles. It also resembles the halls of the old House of Lords (now Bank of Ireland) halls.
  • The harp of Dublin faces the opposite direct form the Harp beer harp.
  • The Castle is still used today – funny enough we haven’t yet been invited to any events. Clearly my evil step mother has hidden my invitation to the ball.

Inside the castle walls was an area called the Pale. That original space was slightly smaller than Trinity College is today. Christchurch was originally a Catholic church for the folks within the City walls. St Patrick’s Cathedral was for the others, who lived beyond the Pale.

We got to go into the original castle – the really old, built-by-Vikings castle. I took some pictures which may or may not have turned out so I included a little video (below). The original wall was built 1000 years ago. It is formed of bricks and a glue made of horse hair, egg, and animal blood.

Near the original wall we could see the Poddle, a river that runs underneath the Caste and the City of Dublin. It formed the original moat for the castle. The waters of the Poddle are murky and dark and formed a dark pool – or in Irish a Dubh Linn.

Here’s a test to see if Patrick reads the blog. Apparently Patrick’s family races back to the father of Red Hugh O’Donnell: In 1592, Red Hugh O’Donnell and Art O’Neill escaped from Dublin Castle via a drain into the Poddle, which runs under the Castle from Ship Street gate to the Chapel Royal and the Undercroft.

Anyways, seeing the original of part of the castle (which has only been open to the public since the 1990s) was the coolest part of the tour.
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