For the third part of my blog about the first NI & ROI Museum Professional Network event I will be focusing my attention on the walking tour we particiapted in.
Our walking tour was facilitated by Grainne Finn of Stroll With Me Tours. Grainne and I attended university together, completing our MA Degree in Cultural Heritage and Museum Studies from University of Ulster in 2010. Since then we have kept in contact and have often met up to partake in some cultural and heritage activities. When Grainne set up her own business this year, I was so excited for her and was very eager to get her involved in the networks event. Luckily for us Grainne agreed to give up her time and facilitated a condensed version of one of the walking tours she will be providing as part of her company.
After our workshop in Dublin Castle, we handed over the next part of the day to Grainne. As we had a jam packed day, Grainne had kindly agreed to give us a highlights tour of her favourite points of interest along Dame Street and down into Trinity College. Our tour lasted for roughly 50 minutes and I have to say the time flew by. I am an avid visitor to Dublin city and regularly walk up and down Dame street sampling the many fantastic restaurants, cafes and shops around that part of the city. I have to say that although I was aware of some of the things that Grainne spoke about, the tour was a real eye opener to me about the amount that is on offer in such a small area of the capital.
The tour began in the grounds of Dublin Castle, where we learned about the ways that castle has been used and interestingly enough how although the grounds are still referred to as a castle,there is only one of the original castle towers left and the main buildings that people now visit are more modern and are in the style of a palace rather than what we would commonly believe to be a castle.My favourite part of the Dublin Castle experience was the story of the statue of Justice, a piece by John Van Nost the Younger. This statue is stunning, however the unfortunate thing about it is that unless you look up or exit or enter through this part of the castle you may well miss it. Justice is an intriguing piece, she has her back to the people, looking into the castle grounds and the ‘British elite’.is Her scale used to tip to one side as the one under her arm used to get less rain than the other, this gave the impression that Justice was unjust as her scale was tipped to favour one side. In order to fix this problem they had to drill a hole in the scales to allow the water to drain out.
After we left the castle we walked down Dame street, stopping at the Central Bank. In these days of the recession and economic depression there are few that would think of a bank as a thing of beauty or a cultural wonder. However Grainne asked us to look past the use of the building and see the building for what it really is, a revolutionary building that was a feat of fantastic architecture when it was created. The building was designed so that each floor was built at ground level and then was hoisted into place. This is something I was not aware of and I have to say it made me look differently at the Central Bank. The sculpture outside the bank is by Crann an Oir by Eamonn O’ Doherty and was erected to commemorate Dublin getting the European City of Culture in 1991.The sculpture was created to symbolise the idea of how an economy grows and succeeds and that in order to do this it needs to be nurtured. The idea behind that base is to show that the wealth of the country is the wealth of the people. An ironic design in light of the plight Ireland now faces. This description of the sculpture made people laugh and really went a long way to show how art is perceived at present.
We then further strolled towards Trinity College where we were made aware of the Bank of Ireland and how it was the first ever purpose built dual chamber parliament building and has influenced many others in the world. We were also made aware of the fact that this building has no windows as they didn’t want to pay window tax. I have to say I was slightly embarrassed to have not noticed that the building had no windows before. It really is amazing to see how you can spend years walking around and living in a place but never really know it. I think this is what was so impressive about Grainne’s tour, she pointed out simple things that are obvious once you are made aware of them but without that push you could walk by them millions of times and never really see them.
After that we entered the Trinity College grounds, here we were introduced to the two sculptures that stand inside the entrance wall to the college. The sculpture that had the biggest effect on me was the Oliver Goldsmith one. Goldsmith was the original student; he partied, drank and ended up getting expelled from his law degree. He did later graduate with a law degree but only after travelling Europe and partaking in the rite of passage of ‘finding yourself’!!! Goldsmith is a legend and I wonder how many students that attended Trinity realise how like them he really was, the original student. 🙂
Finally we talked about the sculpture of George Salmon, the provost who declared that women should never be allowed to attend Trinity. Karma struck and when the decision was made to allow women to attend the college it was only eleven days after that Salmon died. Real stories like this help to bring the history to life.
Trinity is a huge college with so much history and it was fantastic to be introduced to some of the more colourful aspects of its past.
We ended our tour at the sculpture by Arnoldo Pomodoro, Sfera con Sfera. This sculpture appears around the world in various versions. It is an impressive piece and was a nice place to end our tour. A great spot for photographs. Our walking tour was insightful and engaging. Grainne has a great style of guiding and was very popular with all our attendees. It was great to be able to see a friend doing something that they love. Grainne’s passion for history, art and architecture really shone through and you left the tour having learned something new and exciting. My burning feet even gave up giving out throughout the tour as I became immersed in all that Dublin City had to offer.
Stroll With Me Tours is a great service and one I will be recommending to anyone who wants to see and learn about the hidden gems of a beautiful and exciting city.