Dublin Suburbs - Irish Pictures (1888)

From Irish Pictures Drawn with Pen and Pencil (1888) by Richard Lovett

Chapter 1: Ireland’s Eye … continued

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Coming back from this remote past, we must glance at a few other points of special note before we leave Dublin for the country. Of Dublin Castle we need only say that there is nothing very special to be said about it. It possesses few noteworthy features of antiquarian or architectural interest. The Chapel Royal is a work of high artistic character, and well repays a visit. Its sculpture is fine, and of a high class. The Bermingham Tower is of considerable age and interest. It contains valuable State papers, and was formerly used as a State prison. What importance attaches to the Castle now arises mainly from the fact that it has long been the centre and the symbol of England's authority over Ireland.

Dublin is favoured with suburbs that are easily accessible, beautiful in their scenery, and rich in historical and antiquarian associations. It is in this connection, although it hardly comes under the description of a suburb, that reference must be made to Phoenix Park. The name has no reference to the ancient fable, but is derived from fionn uisge, clear or limpid water, the name originally given to a beautiful spring near the Phoenix Pillar. This being pronounced 'feenisk,' was easily corrupted into Phoenix. The park was seized by the Crown on the suppression of the Knights Templars, whose residence was at Kilmainham, and who owned the land on both sides of the Liffey. It is a magnificent piece of country, seven miles in circuit, with an area of 1760 acres. It is well wooded, undulating in parts, with many level open spaces, in which hurling, football, and other games are eagerly played by the youth of Dublin; and, from different points of vantage, very fine views are obtained. Within its limits stand the Viceregal Lodge, the houses of the Chief and the Under-Secretaries for Ireland, a military school and infirmary, a large constabulary barracks, and the building in which the Ordnance Survey work is carried on. It also contains a review ground, a People's Gardens, and a Zoological Gardens. The military prowess of Ireland is commemorated here by an imposing, if not beautiful, obelisk to Wellington and a statue to Lord Gough.

The Botanic Gardens at Glasnevin, hard by the large cemetery in which the modern round tower in memory of O'Connell rises to a great height, are also very lovely, well kept, and so laid out as to enable the frequenter easily and considerably to increase his knowledge of flowers and shrubs. The Curator's house was once the abode of the poet Tickell, and a grove of aged yew trees is still known as 'Addison's Walk.' No place could well be prettier, or more attractive to a lover of botany than Glasnevin on a fine afternoon in early summer.

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