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Hidden Gems in D8

We find out about some hidden gems from the custodians of some of Dublin 8's top cultural landmarks.

[This article was featured in The Gloss Online Magazine, May 2019]


Enter Christ Church Cathedral, look down, and you will discover one of Ireland’s most beautiful floors. Made up of 84,000 tiles in 64 designs - mostly nineteenth-century copies of the original medieval floor tiles - the nave and side aisles are a riot of colour and pattern. Strikingly modern black and white chevrons sit beside graceful fleur-de-lis, flowers and a menagerie of animals; foxes, birds, lions and griffins in shades of terracotta, rich red and moss green. This visual feast has also inspired a new line of scarves, bags and purses in the cathedral’s revamped shop.

- Ruth Kenny, Education Officer - Christchurch Cathedral


“Saint Patrick’s Cathedral has been at the heart of the history of Dublin 8 for 800 years. It is an integral part of the city’s skyline and, on the inside, is full of unexpected and quirky stories from the past. Most Dubliners don’t realise that the Cathedral is the final resting place of approximately 600 people including the Saint Patrick’s most famous Dean; Jonathan Swift. He wrote the world famous Gulliver’s Travels during his time at the Cathedral. Swift donated all of the money he had made in his life toward the creation of another gem of Dublin 8, St Patrick’s Hospital.”

- The Very Revd, William Morton.


There is a distinct feeling of stepping back in time when you visit our on-site schoolroom at Richmond Barracks. St Michael’s CBS opened in 1929 in former Barracks buildings and remained a National School for local boys until 2006. The old style school desks, school bell and blackboard add to the experience. The schoolroom is a hidden gem for preserving a past era in Irish State education. The schoolroom is part of the tour in Richmond Barracks and is a popular location for film shoots, featuring in RTE and BBC documentaries.

- Eadaoin Ní Chleirigh - Former CEO Richmond Barracks


A Natural History of Birds

Eleazar Albin published the gorgeous A Natural History of Birds in the 1730s with 101 copper-plate engravings of birds from around the world. It is, for many people, one of the most attractive books ever produced.

To my mind, the greatest treasures in Marsh's Library are the original hand-drawn and -coloured images prepared on vellum by Eleazar and his daughter Elizabeth in advance of producing the plates for the printed book. The drawings are so life-like and the colours are so vibrant that this manuscript never ceases to amaze me.

The theft of a small number of the images during the 19th century means that today this manuscript is guarded very carefully.

- Dr Jason McElligott, Director, Marsh's Library


The Irish National War Memorial Gardens are a great example of the rich history we have on our doorstep in D8! The Gardens were built to remember those who died in the First World War and designed by the famous architect Edwin Lutyens. They have a complex history of their own.

The first idea for a memorial site, proposed in 1919, was in Merrion Square, and when the decision on Islandbridge was made, building work was often interrupted.

The main work took place between 1933 and 1939, with the workforce drawn evenly of ex-British Army and Irish National Army servicemen. Even after completion, the Gardens were not officially opened until 1 July 2006, the 90th anniversary of the Somme, at a ceremony attended by President Mary McAleese. Today the Gardens are managed by the OPW where you can book an appointment to see the Irish War Memorial Records, illustrated by Harry Clarke. Strolling along the Liffey you can listen to ‘Voice of Memory’, a sound art installation by Christina Kubisch, launched in June 2016.

The Gardens remain the focus of many commemorative events today.

-Maeve Casserly - Dublin City Council Historian in Residence, South-East Area

Photo Credit: Little boy playing in pond, Irish National War Memorial Gardens. The Wiltshire Photographic Collection, National Library of Ireland.


Robert Dudley’s Magna Carta (London, 1556).

One of the treasures of the Edward Worth Library is Robert Dudley’s Magna Carta (London, 1556). Dudley, Earl of Leicester (1532/3–1588), was the noted favourite of Elizabeth I (1533-1603). We know that the book belonged to him because its contemporary binding in panelled calf bears his distinctive medallion badge of a bear with a ragged staff, stamped in blind on the covers.

-Dr. Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian, Edward Worth Library


Located beside the Church of St. Catherine, the Grotto is a welcome refuge from the ever-busy Meath Street and is truly a Liberties hidden gem.

Erected in the late 1930s by Canon Francis Gleeson PP, former WW1 chaplain, highly commended for care of the frontline wounded, by bringing gifts and writing letters home. His General Absolution of the Munsters before the Battle of Aubers Ridge, Ypres (May 1915) is famously depicted in Fortunino Matania’s painting.

The Grotto commemorates Canon Gleeson’s gratitude to Our Lady that Ireland was saved from WW2 and incorporates stone from Lourdes. Many local men involved in its construction were returned WW1 soldiers.

Catherine Scuffil, Historian in Residence, Dublin South Central


Glasnevin Trust has re-opened Golden Bridge Cemetery as a working graveyard. 189 years on from the first burial and 148 years since its “closure”. Not only will it be open to new burials but the cemetery is inextricably linked with the local community’s efforts to revitalise the area. Working in conjunction with Richmond Barracks and Dublin City Council, the cemetery will be reintegrated into the Dublin 8 community. The cemetery will gradually be refurbished, the Gate Lodge restored and also become a community resource. Richmond Barracks will continue to incorporate tours of the cemetery as part of their offering. Golden Bridge contains many historically significant and interesting graves, including:

-W.T.Cosgrave: Politician, revolutionary, 1st head of government of the Irish Free State.

-Frank Burke: Member of the Irish Volunteers who was killed in the South Dublin Union.

-Patrick O’Kelly: Veteran of the 1798 Rebellion in Kildare.

-Eugene Lynch: Am 8 year old boy killed during the 1916 Rising. One of only 40 children to lose their lives during the fighting

-Mary Anne Jenkins: A member of Cumann na mBan.

-Andrew Clinch: A doctor and rugby player for Ireland between 1892-1897. Memebr of the British lions team that toured South Africa in 1896.

-Thomas O’Flanagan: United Irishman and printer.

- Mervyn Colville - Deputy CEO - Glasnevin Trust


Kilmainham Gaol Museum has many unusual and interesting items on display, including two hand-drawn atlases, which were written and illustrated by Patrick Lynch of Kildare who was imprisoned in Kilmainham Gaol for ‘Treasonable Practices’ as a result of his involvement in the 1798 Rebellion. The first volume contains detailed drawings and a handwritten description of each county in Ireland. The second contains maps of ‘all the republics, States, Empires and Kingdoms in the known world.’ Lynch said that he created the atlases ‘to pass away some gloomy hours in my loathsome prison’. He spent four years imprisoned in Kilmainham and was released on 9 April, 1802.

- Aoife Torpey Kilmainham Gaol Archivist

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