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Glasnevin Cemetery

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Sunday 23rd May saw me visit Glasnevin Cemetery with my good friend Blaithín.

I was dubious. I was beginning to wonder slightly why I went, at first. You may also wonder why a cemetery is being featured on this blog. As disclaimers go, I paid in just like the rest of the some 30 people who managed to get on the guided tour.

But the 140 acre site is amazing. The €5 priced guided tours done by historian and development manager Shane MacThomais run daily at 11.30am, 12.30 & 2.30pm and are well worth it. Really well worth it.

Of course you can walk in for free…. but whats the fun[?] in that. There are 1.5 million people buried there since 1832 – just pay the fiver…. you won’t regret it.

From an ‘outdoors’ person perspective…. it was noticeable that the trust has been putting a lot of money into restoration of the entire grounds. A lot of headstones appeared as 2 seperate colours and it wasn’t until Shane explained that they had been laid a long time ago and sank, some from 8′ high down to just 2′. These are all now being fixed. The fact that the yew trees were put there to prevent people parking their cattle and right down to why cemeteries are no longer placed by rivers as they used to be.

This June the cemetry will also be joined with the Botanical Gardens so one will be able to walk through from one to the other and there are further plans to open a sort of stone masons apprentices school. That I think is a great idea for such a craft. Once again its not until Shane explains how long in hours and hammer taps per hour a piece of stone takes by hand.

All that aside there are the stories of the grave robbers, why a Dublin person is never buried after 12 noon [uisce beatha 😉 ]  and as funny as it sounds even just looking at the trees made me smile.

The tour outdoors takes about 1.5 hours. The tour inside the building and out combined costs a tenner and both receipts will give you discount in the coffee shop [where the cakes are a must and the staff are polite]. They also do student rates. If you believe you may have some family history here…. do go and research.

Some of the more better known names buried there include: Daniel O’Connell, Michael Collins, Eamon De Valera, Charles Stewart Parnell, O’Donovan Rossa, Arthur Griffiths and Countess Markiewicz. Brendan Behan, Luke Kelly, Gerard Manley Hopkins, Michael Cusack and Liam Whelan.

The trust employs 2 full time and 7 part time staff and can be contacted via the Glasnevin Trust website, telephone 00353-1-8826590 or email tours[at]glasnevintrust[dot]ie

*view more images of Glasnevin Cemetry

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Irelands Eye

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The second garden group event took place today. This time to Irelands Eye.

It was an amazing day. And to that some notes of thanks are due. To the legend that is Diarmuid O’Cathasaigh of The Howth Peninsula Historical Society, who spoke to us about the island and to Mary Stephenson who introduced me to Diarmuid – thank you so very much. It put meaning to the journey.

To the skipper of The Little Flower, Mark Doyle of Island Ferries. You are Sir, a gentleman and I wouldn’t sail in any other boat.

To the people I spent the day with… I applaud you and thank you. Absolute Ladies and gentlemen.

To the island itself… I did try to edit the story teller [the video of him that is] that is Diarmuid [and I could have rewritten what he told me]… but the guy is a legend and I just couldn’t do it. Want to know about Irelands Eye…. really ?

From the famous murder to why martello is actually incorrect spelling. From the year 200 AD to Napoleon and why Howth has 2 of everything…. it’s all there.

All I know is, prior to this trip, I could find very little information on Irelands Eye, including 3-ish photographs and some information on wiki…

This video is the ultimate guide to a history of Irelands Eye. The day out… one I will never forget.

My advice if you are going…

  • Get on well with skipper Mark – that’s if you wish to plan in advance. He is a marine engineer by trade and a gentleman by nature.
  • Wear long trousers and hiking boots, not necessary, just better.
  • Bring a picnic including a hot drink and water And sun screen and water proofs.
  • Relax and enjoy. Worth every cent… more than that, every minute.
  • The boat rip costs €15 and if the tide is with you takes about 15 minutes
  • I recommend you spend a good 2 -3 hours there
  • There is much more than the martello tower there [see images]
  • Anything else…

looking for more information

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St Audoens Park, Dublin

Located on the corner of High Street and Cook Street [just on past Christ Church] St Audoens Park is, I’m glad to say, another of Dublins little gems. According to Dublin City Councils website:

St. Audoen’s Park, although less than 0.5 hectares in size, is quite significant in historical terms.  Located adjacent to St. Audoen’s Church (1300 A.D.), it incorporates the first stone city wall dating from about 1100 A.D.; St. Audoen’s Arch, the last surviving entrance to the old city; and Fagan’s Gate.

The City Wall was restored in 1976 as part of Architectural Heritage Year and the park development of 1982 won a prestigious civic award.  Audoen was a 7th – century Bishop of Rouen (France) and the nearby church named after him is reputedly one of the oldest still used for regular religious services.

As a park, it is extremely relaxing and a great little getaway from the hustle and bustle. The fact that it has so much from a heritage point of view is something that maybe is overlooked a bit too often… But maybe there’s a little of The War Memorial Park versus The Phoenix Park going on here with Christs Church only a stones throw away [?].

That said I like it. Nicely laid out. Clean and tidy. There was even a gardener in trimming the lawn edges on the day I visited. I also like the fact that there’s a Dublin Bike Scheme collection point right outside. I cycled right up from Exchequer Street. The beds were a little empty but I’ll simply put that down to the time of the season… still no leaves on the trees 😉 A note should go also to the stone work cobbles that so often are not in keeping with the surroundings.

Go take a look. Enjoy. Well worth it.

more picture of St Audoens Park

Iveagh Gardens, Dublin

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It was last month when I chose to visit the Iveagh Gardens just north of St Stephens Green.

On the whole, I like the Iveagh Gardens. I like the layout, the sunken lawn and the symetry of the main features.

But on this occasion I was a bit surprised with some elements of the grounds.

The Iveagh Gardens were originally given to University College Dublin by Lord Iveagh in 1908. The gardens are now under the remit of the OPW.

The waterfall was closed off, which is fine, but road cones and some other paraphernalia seemed to be strewn there and the rose area was closed off. These bits one can live with and are easily resolved. But when you see statues/ figures with parts removed and at the same time a brand new looking [and therefore slightly out of place] sculpt of John Mc Cormack one wonders mildly. No offence meant to the Mc Cormack people…. but I could think of more fitting places for such a sculpt. I suppose I may have thought that one would restore the more historic pieces before bringing in the brand new [?].

The main water features were also turned off, the lawns [acknowledgment of winter weather here] were in disrepair and the trees had a fair amount of suckering growth. Not a lot going on being quite honest.

On the plus side the park is one of the quieter ones in Dublin, which in recent times has become a little better known thanks to the comedy festivals that now take place there. And no harm. It is in summer months very much filled with the joys of spring [?!!] but on this occasion I was disappointed.

As I said, I really do like this park, overall and to simply escape the hustle and bustle of the city centre. It’s history is also quite amazing and well worth reading up on… that said if I was Lord Iveagh… I guess I’d be a little disappointed to see the missing and semi dismantled sculpts that dorn the parks peripherals.

On a slightly seperate note The Iveagh Gardens wiki page tells as lightly different story to that of heritage Ireland

The gardens in their present form were laid out in 1863 by Benjamin Guinness after he had built what is now Iveagh House on St. Stephen’s Green. Previously the land had been laid out as a private pleasure garden by “Copper-faced Jack”, Earl of Clonmell.

According to Heritage Ireland

The Iveagh Gardens are among the finest and least known of Dublin’s parks and gardens.  They were designed by Ninian Niven, in 1865, as an intermediate design between the ‘French Formal’ and the ‘English Landscape’ styles.  They demonstrated the artistic skills of the landscape Architect of the mid 19th century and display a unique collection of landscape features which include Rustic Grotto’s and Cascade, sunken formal panels of lawn with Fountain Centre Pieces, Wilderness, Woodlands, Maze, Rosarium, American Garden, Archery Grounds, Rockeries and Rooteries.

The conservation and restoration of the Gardens commenced in 1995 and to date most of the features have been restored, for example the Maze in Box hedging with a Sundial as a centrer piece.  The recently restored Cascade and exotic tree ferns all help to create a sense of wonder in the ‘Secret Garden’.  The pre 1860s rose varieties add an extra dimension to the Victorian Rosarium.

More images of the Iveagh Gardens on Pix.ie

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The Garden Group Visit The War Memorial Gardens

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I had reviewed The War Memorial Gardens last May. But today wasn’t about my view of the park.

It was about a group of people, a great group of people I should add, who took some time out of their Sunday, to enjoy a little of the great outdoors. On a slight side note it was also about making garden group[s] a little funky 😉

A note of very special thanks should go to the OPW and in particular Craig, from The War Memorial Gardens who gave a very enthusiastic guide to how the park works, its history, the design… put simply he proved just why The Irish Times ranked it number 5 in Irelands top ten hidden gems.

The weather was a little nippy. But on a positive, it didn’t rain 😉 Considering I work outdoors all week and I used to work in this park [some 16 years ago now albeit….] for me it was a really enjoyable afternoon, made partcularly amazing by people I spent it with. Thank you all. Sincerely.

Funny thing, I never ever thought the laughing point of Anthony and Nialls afternoon would involve a joke about pruning roses 😆 That really made me smile!

So the garden group got off the ground and it’s onwards and upwards… Next garden group outing will be announced the first week in March. Looking forward to it now.

More Pictures of the garden group gig over at Pix.ie

UPDATE:

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