Ireland 2019: Dublin’s Merrion Square

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.

Oscar Wilde (1854-1900).

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.

Dionysius, the Geek god of wine and drama.

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.

Oscar’s wife Constance Lloyd.

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).

There are some strange creatures all over the children’s playground.

Another strange creature.

Claire loves playgrounds.

So does Sophie.

Sophie found a slide.

That was fun!

Claire’s turn.

Would you like to go for a spin?

A yard, a fence and two birds.

The square was laid out in 1762. Most of the trees are now overgrown.

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).

Another view of the trees.

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.

Three –no, wait — Five playground watchers.

Beam balancing.

My wife calls them “dudus girls” (Chamorro for “flirty”).

Hmm — who are those three characters around that tree?

landscape near the park’s edge.

Irish Defense Forces Monument.

The Victims.

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.

Spacious fields in the middle of the square.

Two old trees frame a central area of the square.

An example of several mini-gardens that can be found throughout the park.

Artists for Amnesty artwork.

This sculpture by Dame Elizabeth Frink was donated in 1982 to mark the 20th year of Nelson Mandela’s imprisonment.

The Joker’s Chair is a tribute to Dermot Morgan (1952-98), Irish comedian and actor who starred in  the popular Father Ted television series that ran for three years in the 90s.

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.

Sophie’s turn.

A final look at Merrion Square.

This bus going by reminded us of the Riverdance show we saw the day before.

The colorful door of the Dublin Chamber of Commerce on Clare Street (a block away from Merrion Square).

The LGBTQ Parade in Dublin was held on the previous Saturday.

Kennedy’s on Westland Row.

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 garden on the way back to our hotel.

Same garden; different angle.

Seamen’s Memorial.

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 BonusRestless 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.





About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
This entry was posted in Architecture, History, Ireland, Travel and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

10 Responses to Ireland 2019: Dublin’s Merrion Square

  1. Peter Klopp says:

    Oh, how much fun your grandchildren had in the estate park where only the nobility was allowed to dwell more than a century ago. Looking at your photos I have the urge to be young again.

    • Well, we are young again when we are with them — young at heart! I retired 23 years ago not knowing what was in store for us. I spent the first few years researching my family history and then in 2002 I bought my first digital camera, we went on our first cruise and we also went on our first trip across the Atlantic. Shortly after our return our first grandkid was born and three more were born in the next six years. We took care of all of them during the day when they were young while their parents were working. Every year we would take three weeks off and travel, usually to Europe. Last year was the first time we were able to travel with the entire family including all four grandkids!

  2. mvschulze says:

    Your grandchildren are adorable, …and thanks for this most comprehensive and enlightening series on you and your families 2019 Ireland vacation. And, a trailing thought …good thing it wasn’t THIS year! M 🙂

    • Thanks, MV! Yes, we were lucky all of this was planned for last year. This year would have been a disaster! I think last year our grandkids were of the perfect age for family travel. Our grandson was 16 and our three granddaughters were 13, 11 and 11. The grandson is 17 now and will be graduating high school this week and will be off to college in the Fall. Our oldest granddaughter is now 14 and will be starting high school in the Fall. And our two youngest are now both 12 and will be entering their second year of middle school.

  3. disperser says:

    Wilde reminds me of an actor whose name (or movies) I’m failing to recall (meaning, the visage is familiar).

    And, magpies . . . interesting birds I miss (we had them in Colorado).

    A pleasant stroll through what looks to be a nice place to visit.

    • I’m not sure who Wilde reminds you of. You may have seen a movie from one of his novels (The Picture of Dorian Gray) or plays (The Importance of Being Earnest).

      The magpies around here have yellow bills. I haven’t seen too many lately. I hear they took a big hit from the West Nile Virus in recent years. I guess they are the ones in Colorado, too.

      Yes, it was a pleasant stroll. Merrion Square is on the way to just about anywhere in central Dublin. Just a couple of blocks south of the Liffey, a couple of blocks east of Trinity College, a couple of blocks north of St Stephen’s Green and Grafton Street. And it’s just across the street from some of the national museums and galleries and the Irish Parliament.

  4. thanks for the memories! When will we get there again!!? Love the square and Oscar’s house nearby. Great song!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.