The street in front of Benjamin Lee’s statue at St. Patrick’s Cathedral was for a period called Guinness St, before reverting back to St Patrick’s Close. At the entrance to the Close, from St. Patrick’s Street, are two large pillars and for many months the top section of the pillar nearest the Cathedral was missing because of an accident. Not long after restoration work was completed it has been, once again, damaged.
One of the largest conservation restoration projects to be undertaken in state history began in July 2019 with a planned completion date of August 2021 and a cost of €9 million. As the Cathedral is an operational place of worship with over 500,000 tourists and 65,000 religious visitors attending the cathedral each year, Clancy Construction had to progress the project without interruption to the daily operations of the Cathedral.
Vivienne Roche’s Liberty Bell and the Literary Parade were commissioned as part of the celebrations marking the Dublin ‘Millennium’ in 1988.
For a long time I had believed that this sculpture in St. Patrick’s park was named after the Liberty Bell which happens to be the iconic symbol of American independence but I was totally wrong.
It is known as ‘The Liberty Bell’ because it is located in an area of Dublin of Dublin known as “The Liberties”. For those of you who are not interested in visiting public parks or churches there is a nearby pub known as the Liberty Belle.
One of my followers, I do have a few, contacted me to draw my attention to the fact that the Liberty Bell is often confused with Dublin’s “freedom bell”, the first Catholic Church bell to ring in Dublin in breach of the Penal Laws 200 years ago.
Legend has it that The Liberator Daniel O’Connell rang the bell to celebrate emancipation in 1829, creating the crack in the bell which remains visible today. “This is Dublin’s, and Ireland’s, great freedom bell,” Smock Alley director Patrick Sutton said in an interview with the Irish Times. “In America the Liberty Bell is cased behind eight inches of plate glass, our bell was cased beneath eight inches of pigeon poop.”
The Liberties of Dublin, Ireland were manorial jurisdictions that existed since the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century. They were town lands united to the city, but still preserving their own jurisdiction. The most important of these liberties were the Liberty of St. Sepulchre, under the Archbishop of Dublin, and the Liberty of Thomas Court and Donore belonging to the Abbey of St. Thomas (later called the Earl of Meath’s Liberty).Today’s “Dublin Liberties” generally refer to the inner-city area covered by these two liberties.
Born in Cork in 1953, daughter of an engineer, Vivienne Roche was educated in Miss O’Sullivan’s primary and secondary school before studying first at the Crawford School of Art from 1970 to 1974 and then the School of the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston graduating in 1975. She was awarded an honorary doctorate by University College Cork in 2006.
She began her creative life as an artist but moved into sculptor and is considered one of Ireland’s foremost sculptors. Roche was one of the founders of the National Sculpture Factory in Cork and was the chair from 1989 to 1997. She also was on the national Arts Council from 1993 to -1998 as well as on the governing body of Cork Institute of Technology. She is a member of Aosdána and the Royal Hibernian Academy. She is on the board of the Hugh Lane Gallery and the Dublin City Gallery. Roche remains active in creating national cultural policy.
Roche has participated in exhibitions in multiple countries like France, Finland, Sweden, England, and the U.S. Her work has been presented by the President of Ireland to other national heads of state. She lives in County Cork.
VIEWS OF CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL – FAKE VINTAGE POSTCARDS
For most of their common history, both Christ Church and St Patrick’s held the status of cathedral for the Dublin diocese, a rare arrangement which only ended following the move to disestablish the Church of Ireland
The cathedral was founded in the early 11th century under the Viking king Sitric Silkenbeard. It was rebuilt in stone in the late 12th century under the Norman potentate Strongbow, and considerably enlarged in the early 13th century, using Somerset stones and craftsmen. A partial collapse in the 16th century left it in poor shape and the building was extensively renovated and rebuilt in the late 19th century, giving it the form it has today, including the tower, flying buttresses, and distinctive covered footbridge.
ST PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL AND THE ADJACENT PUBLIC PARK
Some good news: St Patrick’s Day, a bank holiday here in Ireland, is on a Thursday this year but the Government has announced that the Friday will also be a bank holiday and that starting in February 2023 the first Monday of the month will be a bank holiday in honour of all who died during the Covid-19 Pandemic.
I visit this park on a regular basis and I really like but at times it can be a bit crowded.
Saint Patrick’s Park, located to the north of St.Patrick’s cathedral, was opened by King Edward VII in July 1902. It is bounded by Patrick Street to the west, Bull Alley to the north and Bride Street to the east. It was laid out as part of the redevelopment of the area by the Guinness family in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries and provides an attractive setting for both Saint Patrick’s Cathedral and the Iveagh Play Centre. The landscaping was the work of Mr. Crasp of Chester and the construction work was undertaken by engineer Mr. Arthur Dudgeon. The geometric landscaping is enhanced by the two stone fountains on the park’s principal axis and a modern sculpture of a steel bell by Vivienne Roche. A brick terrace was constructed to cope with the fall in ground level between Bride Street Patrick Street, the upper level of which was used as a bandstand while the lower level provided a sheltered seating area.
In 2015 a new Tearoom and Public Toilets were inserted into existing storage spaces behind the historic arches. All new interventions into the historic fabric are carried out in bespoke steelwork elements. A new terrace outside features a 5m long communal table set underneath a magnolia tree.
The Cathedral is one of the oldest buildings in Limerick and stands at the heart of the medieval city. Originally the Royal Palace for the Kings of Thomond it was gifted to the Church in 1168. St Mary’s is an extraordinarily complex building representing developments from the mid-twelfth century to the later twentieth century – a treasure of Irish religious art.
The cathedral graveyard contains many graves and tombs of notable people. The physician Samuel Crumpe is buried in the graveyard near the great west door. Prince Milo of Montenegro, Frances Condell (first woman Mayor of Limerick) and Bishop Charles Graves are also interred in the grounds. The last High King of Munster, Domnall was purportedly buried in the cathedral, with the remnants of his stone coffin still visible in the Cathedral chancel. Bishop Cornelius O’Dea is buried alongside several other Bishops of Limerick in what is believed to be an Episcopal vault underneath the chancel itself. Also notable are the Sexton, Barrington, Boyd and Vanderkiste tombs along the south entrance pathway.