Parnell Square and environs, Dublin
Last week if you recall we finished our stroll at The Garden of Remembrance, today I would like to walk down the eastern side of the square via Cavendish Row to The Gate Theatre. Founded in 1928, by Hilton Edwards and Michael Mac Liammoir, The Gate Theatre quickly established itself as a firm favourite with Dublin audiences. It introduced them to a varied selection of work, both classic and contemporary; by Irish, European and American playwrights. In 1931 the fledgling theatre struggled with financial difficulties, however, thankfully with the support of Lord and Lady Longford, it overcame those early problems and when current restrictions ease we will be able to enjoy a night at the theatre once again.
When Michael Colgan joined as director in the 1980’s, the theatre enhanced its reputation playing to international audiences from China to New York, with works by Samuel Beckett, Harold Pinter and Brian Friel. With the generous support of patrons and sponsors the theatre has been renovated and restored of late.
Leaving The Gate, we will walk a short distance on Parnell Street and take the first left onto North Great Georges Street. Originally laid out in 1776 by Nicholas Arendall, on lands of The Eccles Estate, it quickly became a much sought after Dublin address for the great and the good of the day. Previous residents include, Viscount Powerscourt, Charles Orpen, physician, who became renowned for his work with the deaf and dumb, Isaac Butt MP, barrister and Irish Nationalist. Perhaps the best known of today’s residents is Senator David Norris, Joycean Scholar and human rights activist.
As we stroll up the street taking in the wonder of these fine houses your eye will be drawn to the imposing building facing you at the top of the street. Belvedere House built in 1775, at a cost of £24,000, for George Rochfort 2nd Earl of Belvedere. It is rumoured the the house is haunted by his mother, The 1st Lady Belvedere, who died in the house. The house became a Jesuit College in1841.
A short stroll along Great Denmark Street we take a left on to Temple Street. You will immediately spot the spire of Saint George’s Church which is located beside Temple Street Children’s Hospital. Built in 1802, on a site donated by Luke Gardiner 1st Viscount Mountjoy and designed by Francis Johnston, the spire reaches to 200 feet. The church remained in constant use until the early 1980’s but unable to fund the cost of renovation required the church was sold to Sean Simon, who planned to open it as a theatre and entertainment venue. After de-consecration, the bell was donated to Taney Parish Church in Dundrum, and the ornate pulpit was disassembled and used to decorate The Thomas Reed bar in Parliament Street. The bell of Saint George’s is the bell mentioned by James Joyce in Ulysses, as the bell Leopold Bloom could hear in his flat in Eccles Street.
Directly opposite Saint Georges is Hardwicke Street, leading to North Frederick Street. This street was designed by Francis Johnston to enhance and compliment the view of Saint George’s which he believed to be one of his finest designs. It was a street of terraces of Georgian style houses on both sides. Very little of the original street scape survives today having been replaced with blocks of apartments. Two points of interest though, firstly there is a small fenced in garden, maintained by the local residents, in memory of the children who died during the 1916 uprising and secondly, it was one of the original Georgian houses that was the setting for The Boarding House a short story by James Joyce which along with some of his other stories appears in Dubliners.
I wonder where we will get to next week?