Monday, November 1, 2010

Walking Tours of Dublin

Architecture Ireland (the people who brought us Open House) have a new project: walking tours of Dublin, led by actual architects. They're running some trial tours at the moment and will be launching properly mid-November. Last Saturday I took part in the Georgian tour and later on this week, I'll be doing one of the Docklands. I'll have more details of all the tours and pricing, etc soon. They're also hoping to provide tours in other languages at some point.

It was a perfect sunny autumn morning for a tour, which met outside the Hugh Lane Gallery on Parnell Square. The gallery was originally the townhouse of Lord Charlemont and designed by William Chambers (he also did the Casino in Marino for Charlemont). Chambers never actually came to Ireland to see either of his impressive creations! Back in the mid 1760s, Rutland Square (yes, that's its original name) was still being developed, though the Rotunda Hospital was already at one end. Between it and Charlemont House were pleasure gardens, which charged entry to gain funds for the hospital.

We then proceeded down North Great Georges St, on to O'Connell st (where Luke Gardiner came up again - he of the Henrietta St house I reviewed for Open House). We stopped at several points and on the bridge, and then moved on to the original parliament houses, now the Bank of Ireland, which I always think of as the central bank, even though it isn't!From there, a small pit stop in Trinity and thence to Leinster House and Merrion Square, via the new government offices on Merrion Row, where the tour ends. Our guide, Carol Ryan, was informative and interesting. The tour ran for just under 2 hours but is pitched at 1.5hrs. We walked about 4km. I don't think kids would like this tour but it's not really aimed at them. Comfortable shoes are a must and since I was parked back on Parnell St, I wished I had my Dublin bikes card when we finished! Some of the tours will be circular and there will be a website to explain the routes once they launch officially.

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