7 Treasures of Dublin Hidden in Plain Sight
Dublin. Pubs, Trinity College, Book of Kells, Guinness, The Liffey, Ha’Penny Bridge… These are must sees no doubt featured in your copy of the Lonely Planet. But what if you wanted to dig deeper and really get to know the city? Simple, just pick up a copy of Secret Dublin: An Unusual Guide by Pól Ó Conghaile. This recently published guidebook will show you a whole new dimension of Dubin, highlighting aspects of Dublin that go unnoticed, lurking, hidden in plain sight. To give you a taste, we’ve put together the following list. Enjoy!
1) A Peculiar Plaque: Father Pat Noise
The O’Connell Bridge is known to Dubliners and visitors alike. The bridge is known for being the link to Dublin’s main thoroughfare, O’Connell Street. There is one unique feature (besides being the only traffic bridge in Europe to be as wide as it is long) about the bridge that many people fail to notice: an unassuming commemorative plaque dedicated to a Father Pat Noise, who died under “suspicious circumstances.”
So who was Father Pat Noise?
Nobody. He’s fictional!
The plaque became a fixture of the bridge in 2004. It was installed by two brothers as a hoax and a tribute to their own father. It wasn’t until 2006 that the plaque came to the attention of the Dublin City Council.
It was removed in 2007, but a replacement appeared within months ensuring that the plaque will continue to live on as another one of Dublin’s many quirks.
Where? O’Connell Bridge, Dublin 2
2) Battle Scars: Bullet Holes in O’Connell Monument
The O’Connell Monument stands tall at the foot of O’Connell Street. Its prominence makes it hard to miss. What people do miss is a few signatures of the past. Here is a picture of the monument:
Everything seems normal, doesn’t it? Now, let’s take a closer look.
Yep, you got it! There are tiny holes in the monument. What are they? Bullet holes from the 1916 Rebellion, the Irish War of Independence, and the Civil War. At least 10 bullet holes are found on the statue of O’Connell and at least 30 have punctured the monument in total.
Where? O’Connell Street, Dublin 1
3) A Box from the Past- K1 Telephone Booth
Telephone booths are now a thing of the past. It’s easy to pass by without even giving them a second look — much like a ‘60s blue Police Box in London, I suspect.
The next time you find yourself on Dawson St., try to find the green box labelled “Public Telephone.” That is one of the last surviving K1 telephone booths in Dublin. These booths were introduced in the 1920s and were the predecessor of the red booths. Step inside, pretend to make a call, change into your superman costume; savor the experience of stepping into a telephone booth, for it might soon be a thing of the past.
Where? Dawson Street, Dublin 2
4) All Part of the Master Plan: Freemason’s Hall
Upon entry in the Freemason’s Hall, you shall be whisked away by mysterious robed figures, never to see the light again for you have happened upon the secret society that has infiltrated every layer of society and determines the fate of the world. If that is what you’re expecting, fear not.
In fact, you’ll be surprised to find out that the society is extremely welcoming; the Freemason’s Hall is open to the public for just 2 euro. Tours take you through rooms such as the Knight Templar Preceptory Room, Prince Masons’ Room, Grand Chapter Room, and the spectacular Grand Lodge
Where? 17 Molesworth Street, Dublin 2
5) “The Worst Pharmacy in the City:” Sweny’s Pharmacy
This shop may be familiar to those (elite few) who have managed to conquer the great tome, Ulysses, by James Joyce. The now defunct storefront was an actual pharmacy founded in 1847.
The pharmacy closed its business in 2009 and is now run by volunteers as a museum and a second-hand bookshop. Amazingly enough, the store did not evolve through the years and the interior is very much as you’d find it in the days when Joyce himself was a customer. Pop into the store and appreciate the tiny space furnished with wooden counters, various glass bottles, and prescription packages, all original, all worn down by time.
The shop also stocks bars of lemon soap, the item the protagonist Leopold Bloom purchased from “the worst pharmacy in the city.” Additionally, there are daily readings of Joyce’s work with (much needed) in-depth analysis of the texts to provide you a deeper understanding of the masterpieces.
Where? 1 Lincoln Place, Dublin 2
6) The Exhibition Hidden in Plain Sight: Merrion’s Square Lamp Posts
This Georgian garden square holds a secret quite inconspicuous. Many visit the square to see its statue of Oscar Wilde and most will fail to realize the significance of the park’s various lamp posts. Here, take a look:
Under closer observation, you’ll notice that each post is unique. In fact, the city has surreptitiously preserved a part of its past in the form of an outdoor exhibition of Dublin’s various lamp standards throughout the years.
Where? Merrion Square Park, Dublin 2
7) The First Library: Marsh’s Library
Dublin City Centre is extremely tourist friendly. “Look left” and “Look right” notes on the ground remind tourists that people drive on the left side of the road. Sign posts, indicating points of interest, are a feature of the city’s main throughways, and they lead the way to attractions such as Trinity College, the National Galleries, the Guinness Storehouse, and Dublin Castle. Marsh’s Library is also featured on these signs but often gets overlooked, perhaps overshadowed by the world famous Old Library of Trinity College.
Hidden behind St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Marsh’s library, named after Archbishop Narcissus March, is actually Ireland’s first public library. This historical gem was constructed in 1701 and designed by Sir William Robinson — the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham is another one of his accomplishments.
This library will transport you back in time and make you feel like a scholar in the 18th century when you walk amongst the oaken bookshelves, featuring thousands of leather-bound books. The collection consists of books from the 16th to the 18th century in subjects ranging from literature and music, to science and medicine.
The next time you find yourself in the area, take a deep breath and step through this stone archway…
Where? St. Patrick’s Close, Dublin 8
So, how many of these did you know about?
If you’re interested in finding out more of these quirks of Dublin, buy a copy of Ó Conghaile’s book. It is well worth a read and perhaps it’ll make your work commute, evening strolls, or your visit to Dublin a more interesting occasion.
Source: Secret Dublin: An Unusual Guide by Pól Ó Conghaile