The four Georges from the German House of Hanover ruled Great Britain and Ireland from 1714 to 1830 and this period as well as the popular architectural style of the time has become known as Georgian. Early in the 18th century there were two squares north of the Liffey where the elite citizens of Dublin lived in their Georgian townhouses. Then the then Earl of Kildare but soon to be Duke of Leinster decided to build his Georgian mansion south of the Liffey and plans were soon made to build three more squares surrounded by more Georgian townhouses in the general vicinity. And so Merrion Square was laid out adjacent to the rear entrance of Leinster House and plans for Stephen’s Green and Fitzwilliams Square a few blocks further south soon followed. And so red-brick symmetrical townhouses four stories high soon dominated central Dublin. They still do.
Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.
British sculptor Danny Osborne created the three statues that make up the Oscar Wilde monument on the northwest corner of Merrion Square. Osborne used larvakite for Wilde’s pants, charnockite for his shoes, jade for his jacket and thulite for the jacket’s collar and cuffs. Oscar’s head was originally porcelain but it did not weather well and was replaced with jade. The rock is a quartz boulder from the Wicklow Mountains.
Those are quotes from Wilde’s poems on the pillar.
In the background are three of the many brick Georgian townhouses on Merrion Square. Wilde grew up at 1, Merrion Square which is to the left of the buildings in the photo. All the Georgian houses in the neighborhood are known for their colorful doors.
This was the second time we encountered Oscar Wilde on our Ireland vacation. We were walking down Galway’s main street the week before when we discovered him sitting on a bench conversing with a poet from Estonia (see here).
Merrion Square was laid out in 1762 surrounded by Georgian residences on three sides
with the back of Leinster House on the fourth side. Leinster House now is the seat of the Irish Parliament (Oireachtas). Today The National Gallery of Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland – Natural History Museum flank the Leinster House rear entrance on Merrion Square W (the main entrance to Leinster House is on Kildare Street).
At one time there were plans for the Catholic Church to build a cathedral in what is now Merrion Square but the plans fell apart and Archbishop Dermot Ryan donated the land to the city in 1974. For awhile the park was called Archbishop Ryan Park but Ryan’s reputation suffered greatly when the Catholic Church / clerical child abuse scandal was revealed in 2009 and in 2010 the name of the park was changed to Merrion Square Park.
American sculptor Andrew O’Connor (1874-1941) created the three statues — the dead victim lying on the ground plus his wife kneeling in prayer and his mother standing over him. O’Connor at one time planned to have the statues be placed in a Washington, D.C. memorial but those plans never came to fruition. So here we are. For the last seven months of his life O’Connor lived at 77, Merrion Square.
This sculpture by Dame Elizabeth Frink was donated in 1982 to mark the 20th year of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment.
Morgan was a confirmed atheist who played the role of a lovable Catholic priest who was banished for his antics to a fictitious island off the coast of Galway. Morgan died of a heart attack one day after recording the final episode of Father Ted.
The LGBTQ Parade in Dublin was held on the previous Saturday.
Westland Row is on the eastern border of Trinity College. We walked up this street on our way back to the Sean O’Casey Bridge and our hotel.
We passed this monument every time we walked across the Sean O’Casey Bridge and I finally took a picture on our return from Merrion Square. It was the last time I clicked on my camera while on our Ireland vacation.
Towards the end of last year my family got together again and we all drove down to Monterey to spend a long week-end celebrating my 80th birthday. My next few posts will cover that long week-end that included adventures in nearby communities of Pacific Grove, Pebble Beach and Carmel.
Irish Music Bonus — Restless Farewell / The Parting Glass by Eleanor Shanley and Ronnie Drew
The Parting Glass is a popular song that has been around since the early 1600s. It originated in Scotland and Robert Burns knew it under the name of “Good night, and joy be wi’ ye a’.” According to Wikipedia, “The “parting glass”, or “stirrup cup”, or “le coup de l’étrier” was the final hospitality offered to a departing guest. Once they had mounted, they were presented one final drink to fortify them for their travels. The custom was practiced in several continental countries.” In the 19th century the song became popular in Ireland, too. The song was revived by the Clancy Brothers and Tommy Makem in the 1960s and it became the traditional last song to sing at social gatherings. And soon it would also often be heard at wakes and funerals. One day Bob Dylan heard Liam Clancy sing the song in the backroom of the Whitehorse Tavern in New York City’s Greenwich Village. Dylan wrote his own words to the tune and called his song Restless Farewell.
This is my last post on our 2019 vacation in Ireland and I can’t think of a better song for my last Irish Music Bonus than this duet by two legends of Traditional Irish Music. Ronnie Drew of The Dubliners sings The Parting Glass in this rendition while Eleanor Shanley sings Bob Dylan’s Restless Farewell.