Dublin’s Decorative Doors, Lamps and Ironwork


Dublin’s Decorative Doors, Lamps and Ironwork
Doors In the early 70’s, Bob Fearon a New York advertising executive was making a TV advertisement in Dublin. When walking through Merrion Square he became captivated with the variety of doors on the houses there. He took a number of pictures of the doors and mounted them on a collage for his own amusement. The collage was spotted by Joe Malone, then head of Bord Failte in the US, who asked if he could display it in their office window on 5th Avenue on St Patrick’s Day. The display created huge interest and there were numerous requests as to where the poster could be purchased. An icon was born!

Today the collage is the very popular ‘Doors of Dublin’ poster much loved by tourists and locals alike and it has brought much attention to, and appreciation for, the heritage that is Georgian Dublin. This is indeed a rich and beautiful heritage created by craftsmen consisting of many elements:

The granite steps on the approach to the door (likely to have a boot scraper for cleaning the muck from boots) The door itself originally made of oak but subsequently of pine. Doors were originally painted in dull colours but subsequently painted in bright colours for differentiation. There was a knocker and a knob but no letter box as all correspondence was delivered by servants until the advent of penny post in 1840.

The frame of the door was supported by pillars and a lintel of Portland stone often carved by skilled stone masons. The fan light overhead is a great feature with the very important function of bringing light into the dark hallway. The fan lights are like snowflakes with many varying designs painted in off white to emphasise their design against the dark of the glass and match the Portland stone lintels and pillars. Look out for the fan lights that feature an extrusion for placing a lamp to give light to the outside of the house as well as the hall. Glass for the fan lights was spun and cut by skilled glaziers. Wealthy owners had side lights for addition light. These however needed the addition of grills or shutters for security. The overall effect of such work stands out against the neutral colours of the facade of the building.

Dublin’s Decorative Lamps

There are currently 45,000 lamp standards in Dublin, a far cry from 1616 when the Candlelight Law was enacted. This law stipulated that every 5th house in a street had to display a light for the convenience (and safety) of passersby. Things clearly improved with the introduction of gas for street lighting in 1825 and must have got even better with the introduction of electric street lighting in 1892.

There are lots of decorative lamps worth mentioning around Dublin today. The restored gas lamps in the Phoenix Park. Note the T bar towards the top of the lamp for the gas lighter to rest his ladder when attending the lamp. Dating from the early 1900’s the elaborate swan neck lamps with their fancy shamrock design on the head and repeated a number of times on the lower column of the lamp. Note also the Dublin City coat of arms featured on the bottom of the upright. These can be seen in the streets around Merrion Square, Kildare Street and Store Street.

The Five Lamps a landmark well known to Dubliners. The lamps signify the five streets that form the junction at Amiens Street, North Strand, Portland Row, Seville Place and Killarney Street. They were erected in 1870 and are dedicated to General Henry Hall who was an officer in the Indian Army. The lamps also featured four water fountains for drinking but they are now defunct.

Merrion Square itself displays a number of old street lamps of various designs. See if you can find the one that is stamped ‘Pembroke Electric Company ‘. The double lamps on O’Connell Bridge date from 1881. There are 2 lovely sea horse lamps (from a set of 4) at the Henry Grattan statue in College Green dating from the late 19th century.

There are some impressive lamps on the entrance pillars of the Kildare Street entrance to Leinster house. The railings surrounding the car park also feature a number of impressive double lanterns.

Decorative Ironwork.

Dublin has a lot of surviving iron work compared to the UK as much of the iron there was melted down during the war for armaments. That so much of it survives is evidence of the quality of the materials used. There are lots of examples of decorative wrought and cast ironwork to be seen about the city:

The greatest piece of ironwork to be seen in the city is the iconic Ha’penny Bridge spanning the Liffey between Aston Quay and Bachelors Walk. The bridge is made of cast iron and was opened to the public in 1816. Look out for the cast iron balconies on various Georgian buildings throughout the city. Designed for safety, security and to allow one to ‘take the air’. Good examples of these can be seen around Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Street.

Many of the balconies provide for single windows but some extend across the full front of the building. The best example of a full front balcony is at 22 St Stephens Green. Railings provided extra security at the front of many Georgian houses. Made from cast iron the railings were embedded in the stone lintel using liquid lead. One piece of decorative ironwork often missed is the coal hole covers to be seen on the pavements outside many of our Georgian houses. These provided access to the coal cellars of the houses for delivery of firewood or coal. There are various designs to be seen embedded in granite flags around Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Street and Molesworth Street. Many of the covers are embossed with the iron foundry name or have a pleasing design to prevent slipping when wet. See how many different foundries you can spot (I found 6). This is just a sample of the decorative heritage that can be seen and commented on in the centre of Dublin. There is a great deal more that could be highlighted if time permitted.

The thing that strikes me when compiling this presentation is the skill, time and patience evidenced in this heritage. It would cost a vast fortune to replicate today.

References: Pearson, P. Peter Pearson’s Decorative Dublin                                                           The O’Brien Press Dublin.                                                                                                                                                                          Irish Culture and Customs, http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com

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A day in Kildare

Irish National Stud & Japanese Gardens
The farm, purchased by Colonel William Hall Walker at the turn of the 20th century, is now owned by the Irish people but is run as a commercial entity, its management working hard to maintain its competitiveness in a major global industry in which Ireland has long played a leading role alongside Britain, France, the USA and Australia.
Sea The Stars, horse of the year in 2009, is among the champions to have been born and raised on the Tully land, on which King Edward VII’s Minoru spent the early part of a life that peaked when he won the Epsom Derby exactly 100 years before Sea The Stars triumphed in the very same race.
Sun Chariot, also born and bred at the Irish National Stud, became one of the very few horses ever to complete the fillies’ Triple Crown when mopping up the 1942 1,000 Guineas, Oaks and St. Leger for King George VI. Almost seven decades later, in May 2011, his daughter, Queen Elizabeth II, visited the Irish National stud farm, once again highlighting that the Irish National Stud’s importance stretches far beyond the confines of Ireland. To arrange a private visit http://www.daytoursunplugged.ie/private-tour-shore-excursions/irish-national-stud-farm.747.html

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Discover Legends and stories from Hill of Tara County Meath Ireland with Day tours unplugged

The most familiar role played by the Hill of Tara in Irish history is as the seat of the kings of Ireland until the 6th century. This role extended until the 12th century, albeit without its earlier splendor. Regardless, the significance of the Hill of Tara predates Celtic times, although it has not been shown that Tara was continuously important from the Neolithic to the 12th century. The central part of the site could not have housed a large permanent retinue, suggesting that it was used as an occasional meeting place. There were no large defensive works. Certainly, the earliest records attest that high kings were inaugurated there, and the “Seanchas Mor” legal text (written down after 600AD) specified that they had to drink ale and symbolically marry the goddess Maeve to acquire the high-kingship. Book a small group Newgrange Monasterboice Hill of Tara and hill of Slane tour with Day tours unplugged

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Newgrange tour with Day Tours Unplugged into passage tomb built 3200 BC

Newgrange passage tomb 3200 BC

Newgrange is the best-known Irish Passage tomb; constructed 3200 BC it is surrounded by 97 kerb stones, the most impressive of which is the highly decorated entrance stone. “At 8.58am, the pencil of direct sunlight shone through the roof-box and along the passage floor to reach across the tomb chamber floor as far as the edge of the basin stone in the end recess” this is the moment witnessed by Professor M.J.O’Kelly on 21st December 1969.

Bru na Boinne located North of Dublin about 8km from Drogheda describes an area where the river Boyne meanders towards the east coast. Bru na Boinne is located on high ground above a dramatic bend in the river, it is known as the palace or mansion of the Boyne. This area is one of the Worlds most important archeological landscapes. The spectacular prehistoric passage tombs of Newgrange Knowth and Dowth dominate the area.

In recognition of the international importance of these monuments and the numerous archeological features in the area, the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) has designated Bru na Boinne area a World Heritage Site.

Join us today on one of our spectacular day tours to Newgrange from Dublin availability is limited, call us on +0035318340941 or book online http://www.daytoursunplugged.ie This is one day tour from Dublin not to be missed.

Please note advanced booking is essential on this guided tour of Newgrange. Your guide will orientate the visitor within the ancient landscape. Before going inside the 5000-year-old passage chamber, the significance of the famous entrance stone as well as the roof box are described. Inside the passage tomb, the winter solstice phenomenon is explained as well as the ancient burial ritual.

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Newgrange Hill of Tara day tour from Dublin

Excavation findings from 3500 BC passage tomb at the Mound of the Hostages, Tara County Meath.

Human bones, the stark remains of hundreds of people plus a rich assemblage of artefacts were excavated from the Mound of the Hostages, Tara during archaeological excavations in the 1950’s. The findings ranging from about 3500 BC. The mound was in fact a mantle of soil about 1 metre deep which covered a cairn enclosing a passage tomb. The following year, in 1956 the team began excavating the fill in the outer part of the tomb. They had established that the mound was surrounded by a ring of fire pits and distinctive cremation burials.

Early Bronze Age battle-axe (c.1800 BC). From the Mound of the Hostages, Hill of Tara. The battle-axe made from stone, was found with cremated human bones underneath an upturned urn and has been vitrified by the heat.

‘The cairn and the tomb capstones were removed and the mass of human bone and other material in the tomb proved to be an incredibly complex stratigraphy to record. Outside the walls of the tomb lay three cists. These cists contained the remains of 55 adults, three children and four infants – more individuals than most excavated megalithic tombs have produced in total.’

‘But the main tomb proved to be even more remarkable. ‘It housed the richest collection of Neolithic and early Bronze Age burials and artefacts known at the time and it has never been superseded. It contained an enormous quantity of cremated and unburnt human bone representing more than 250 individuals and artefacts including decorative beads; pendants; bone and antler pins; a ceremonial battleaxe; bronze daggers; food vessels; and urns.’

Neolithinc vessel (c.3300 BC), known as Carrowkeel Pot, from the Mound of the Hostages, Hill of Tara. Also seen beads, balls and fragments of bone and antler pin.

Book a small group day tour from Dublin  to Newgrange, Monasterboice and Hill of Tara and Hill of Slane now, you well need to book in advance with Day Tours Unplugged

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Celtic Explorer day tour – Newgrange, Monasterboice, Hill of Tara a unique day tour from Dublin

Boyne valley Meath IrelandAncient, majestic and rich in unspoiled scenic pastureland, Meath is the perfect place to escape the stresses and strains of modern life.

Situated in Ireland’s  Midlands and known as the Royal County, Meath was once the seat of the High Kings of Ireland, and is one of Ireland’s most historic counties with an overwhelming array of mind-blowing sites. These include the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Newgrange and the Hill of Tara, which was the traditional seat of the High Kings.

Hill of Tara Day tour from DublinAstronomical Newgrange: This elaborate burial mound is arguably the world’s oldest astronomical observatory, and justly one of our scientific wonders. It was precision engineered so that, each winter solstice, the rising sun shines through a special opening to light up the inner chamber. It was built by Stone Age people who had neither metal tools nor the wheel, yet their observatory marks the turning point of the solar year and was built 1,000 years before the astronomical alignment at Stonehenge.

Book your seat now to (Brú na Bóinne) Newgrange with Day Tours Unplugged

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Private Half Day tour to Newgrange from Dublin with one of our expert guides

Newgrange Tour

Chauffer tours from Dublin with Day Tours UnpluggedNewgrange, in the Boyne Valley, Co. Meath, is Ireland’s best-known prehistoric monument, and is arguably Europe’s finest example of a megalithic passage grave. Built around 3200 BC (according to the most reliable Carbon 14 dating technique carried out on the site), the structure is more than 600 years older than the Giza Pyramids in Cairo, and 1,000 years more ancient than Stonehenge.
Newgrange tomb consists of a vast stone and turf mound about 85 metres in diameter and 13.5 metres high. The Stone Age mound contains a passage, which lead to a burial chamber. Encircling the mound on the outside are twelve large boulders (out of an original 38, archaeologists estimate), which are up to 2.4m (8ft) high. This stone circle, with a diameter of about 104 metres, was built about 1000 years later than the original structure.

Excavations in the central chamber have revealed two burials and three or more cremations. Archaeologists have also discovered seven marbles, four pendants, two beads, a flint flake and a bone chisel. The large stones that form the base of the mound itself are adorned with carved spirals, lozenges, zigzags, and other symbols. The stone that marks the entrance to the passage bears spiral carvings similar to those found at a similar site at Gavrinis in Brittany in France.
Newgrange is best known for the illumination of its passage and chamber during the festive season.

Above the entrance passage is a roof-box, it captures precisely the rays of the rising sun on the winter solstice 21 December. Beams of sunlight touch the ground at the very centre of the tomb lighting up the upright stones along the walls, many of which are also richly decorated.

Historians believe that Newgrange (along with the nearby passage tombs of Knowth and Dowth) were places of astrological, spiritual, religious and ceremonial importance. Some believe that Newgrange is the burial place of the prehistoric kings of Tara. It may also be the home of a race of mythical supernatural beings, known as Tuatha de Danann, meaning “the people of the goddess Danu”.
In 1142, it became part of Mellifont Abbey farm. These farms were known as granges, and by 14th century the site was known only as the New Grange.

The passage tomb was rediscovered in 1699 when the landowner at the time, Charles Campbell, needed some stones for road building and instructed his labourers to carry some away from the cairn. The removal of the stones revealed the entrance to the ancient tomb. More recently, the Boyne Valley mounds at Newgrange, Knowth and Dowth have together been designated World Heritage Sites by UNESCO.

We can arrange to collect you from your Dublin hotel, and provide you with a Mercedes Benz saloon car, your driver will be a Failte Ireland approved tour guide. Our team are all locals and will provide a wonderful insight into one of Ireland’s most remarkable Neolithic historical sites. For more information on a private tour with Day Tours Unplugged to Newgrange and the Boyne Valley

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