Anyone visiting Dublin Castle and hoping to see a flurry of medieval towers and battlements is going to be disappointed, as very little remains of the original castle that was built in 1204. The only part still standing to roof height is the Record Tower.
A disastrous fire in 1684 led to the destruction of much of the original building (which was pretty dilapidated by then anyway).
The rest of it was taken down and rebuilt in the following decades. The State Apartments being completed in 1746.
For so long the seat of Norman and then English power, the castle survived the transition to Irish nationhood, and now houses several Government offices, as well as hosting many diplomatic, political and other events.
For details of opening times, ticket prices, etc. please see the web sites below. Also situated in the castle grounds are the Chester Beatty Library, the Garda Museum and the Revenue Museum
The surprising thing is that, despite appearances, Francis Johnston's Chapel Royal, built between 1807 and 1814,
is a timber-framed building. It was constructed this way as
it is sited on soft ground near the castle's original moat, and had to be as light as possible.
The interior has been painted to look like stone, the ceiling stuccoed and the outside clad in a thin layer of fine Tullamore limestone. It certainly fooled me.
The inside is a Gothic Revival tour de force that was described at the time as "the most flamboyant and luxurious Dublin interior of its era".
Dubh Linn Garden
Said to be the site of the original Black Pool (Dubh Linn) from which the city takes its name, the Dubh Linn Gardens at the back of the castle today serve not only as a quiet spot away from the hustle and bustle of the city, but also double up on occasions as a helipad for visiting dignitaries.
The gardens took on their current form in 1994 as part of the preparations for Ireland's Presidency of the EU in 1996.
The large circular grassy central area incorporates a Celtic design formed by paving stones. I have to admit to channelling my inner six-year old, and being slightly disappointed that this did not form a continuous knot that you could follow all the way round.
Plenty of other sculptures and monuments to see, some of which are detailed below.
An Garda Síochána Memorial Garden
The An Garda Síochána Memorial Garden, situated in one corner of the Dubh Linn Gardens, is a peaceful spot dedicated to the memory of those members of the Irish Police Force who have been killed in service.
The solid granite wall pieced by a sharp glass shard represents the fragility of life, whilst the glass sculpture by Killian Schurmann reflects the theme of a tree cut down in its prime that is the basis of the hard landscaping.
Veronica Guerin Monument
Also in the Dubh Linn Gardens is the Veronica Guerin Monument. This commemorates the life of the brave journalist who persisted in her investigations into the Irish drugs gangs, despite numerous death threats to her and her family.
In June 1996, whilst sitting in her car at traffic lights, she was shot six times by two men on a motorbike.
Her death caused outrage and led directly to the passing of a Proceeds of Crime Act and the establishment of a Criminal Assets Bureau empowered to seize items purchased with money obtained from crime.
2003 Special Olympics Monument
This memorial at the back of the Dubh Linn Gardens commemorates the Special Olympics
World Summer Games held in Ireland in 2003, the first time they had taken place outside the United States.
The Special Olympics is an organisation dedicated to providing sport opportunities for individuals with learning difficulties.
The games consisted of 21 sports and attracted over 7,000 athletes and 3,000 coaches representing 160 different delegations.