I have to say a huge thank you to Dublin Civic Trust and all of those involved in Dublin Garden Squares Day yesterday for an absolutely fantastic and informative day.
Mountjoy Square Architectural Walk
I started the day at the Mountjoy Square Architectural Walk which was given by Karin O’Flanagan who graciously allowed us in and around her beautiful home at 54 Mountjoy Square. Karin has kept this building in amazing condition and she rents out the beautiful Oval room as self catering guest accomodation. I’d highly recommend staying there for anyone who wants to soak up the history of the city – what better way than to stay in what would originally have been the family parlour of one of the Georgian houses on Dublin’s only perfectly designed Garden square. The apartment is fully self catering with a kitchen, bathroom and an adorable loft style bedroom area. Not only will you be getting the chance to experience Georgian living first hand but you will also be contributing to the survival and revival of these stunning houses! Check out the photos and further information on booking at Airbnb.com
Karin took us around the square explaining the details of all of the houses and each of their particularities with such charm and interest despite the constant threat of rain. Next Bernadette took over and brought us into the interior of two further Georgian houses on the square, the second of which is her home – a stunning apartment on the second floor. Bernadette and her husband consider themselves as custodians of the apartment whose lounge is just about one of the most stunning rooms I have ever been in. A perfect square in shape, the plasterwork on the ceiling is exquisit and yet the entire apartment really feels like a home without loosing any modern conveniences. It is an excellent example of living in the 21st century while still keeping the elegance and grandure of the 19th century. Bernadette also rents out the basement apartment in her building to help with the upkeep of the building so check it out at Airbnb.com
Iveagh Gardens Architectural Tour
As is the case on most Irish get togethers I was fortunate to meet another lovely girl – Maria and we both trotted off to the next of the days available walks – The Iveagh Gardens as given by Donal Raynor of the Office of Public Works. Donal took us around the park giving us a tour of the grounds, how is was back in the day when it was owned by Desmond Guinness and how it has changed and been restored over the years. The highlight of the tour was being taken along the back of the huge cascading waterfall that overlooks the park with the stunning infinity pool effect.
Last stop of the day was the Fitzwilliam Square Architectural Walking tour by Graham Hickey of Dublin Civic Trust and were we in for a treat. For two hours Graham took us through the history of the Georgian era, explained why and how the Georgian Squares were formed, gave us indepth explainations of details like pointing and how glass was made in the Georgian and Victorian eras. He also took us around the back of the square to learn more about the mews entrance to the buildings. The rain wasn’t kind but Graham kept going despite it thankfully. I had never been in Fitzwilliam Square’s garden which is very sweet and was surprised to learn that the gardens were not supposed to be closed in by trees but more form a vista for the houses around the square.
It was an incredible day which was made possible by the generosity and passion of all of those who gave their time to organise and host the events for free. Times are hard and every penny must be accounted for but it is a shame that many of these buildings are being left go to ruin by unscrupulous owners who either leave them to rot as they collect crazy rents for poor living conditions or those who let the buildings crumble and ignore their existence as their value has fallen. Mercyfully, thanks to the extreme efforts of a few ordinary individuals who put every penny and more of what they own into restoring and preserving these houses and others dedicate all of their time and knowledge, Georgian Dublin and our history might have some chance of survival. How trivially we treat our heritage is a genuine shame but hopefully a consequence of these tours will be increased awareness and fingers crossed – increased funding and support.