Saturday, 28 June 2014

The 6 day trip to Ireland - Dublin - Unusual secret details (Day 6 - morning cont.) - Centre North and the Phoenix Park quays - Hyppocampus lamps, the Hungry tree and Anna Livia - The 15th of June 2014


Just across the street the unusual sight of 1870 pale green lamps set at intervals along the railings of the Capel Street bridge each propped up by a pair of curvy sea horses (or to be correct Hippocampi) did catch one's attention. Bearing the head and forequarters of a horse and the tail of a fish, the powerful creatures are said to be best known from Greek and Roman Mythology, where they pull Poseidon and Neptune's sea chariots. However "Capel" is also known as being similar to the Irish word for horse (capal) and the fact that water horses have been known in Celtic Mythology and described as luring humans to their deaths in the lakes and streams. 

In search of another unusual detail we walked along the Liffey river until we reached the 1785 Four Courts building and the Fr. Mathew bridge we would have to go across in the direction of the Constitution hill. We passed the Capuchin friary and continued walking along the street Church upper until we finally came across what we were looking for - the Hungry tree.

The Temple gardens were closed but we easily located the hapless bench apparently being eaten alive by a hungry tree, which has since then been listed in the Heritage Tree Database as an "arbori-cultural curiosity which must definitely draw people's attention. What has led to this cartoonist-like phenomenon is unknown.

Our next secret detail had us walk along Bow street by the old Jameson Distillery, which had we had time we would have visited once it is said to be very interesting.

As we were walking along some rather dirty back streets in the Ellis and Arran quay areas we came across an unexpected street exhibition called "Complexions", which brightened our walking path. I found the initiative to be praise-worth, particularly because some of the photo compositions were very interesting.

Though having felt tempted to walk into the National Museum located very closely to where we were heading to we decided to continue our "journey" towards the Croppies Acre. Eamonn O'Doherty's statue Anna Livia siad to have been commissioned for the Millenium celebrations of 1988 and which became object of praise as well as ridicule and mischief "stood there in a rather imposing reclined pose.

The artistic merits of this reclining figure designed to symbolise the river Liffey (her name evokes Anna Livia Plurabelle, a character fulfilling a similar function in Joyce's Finnegans wake)  were not obvious to Dubliners at the time and were soon brought down to earth the moment the statue was given the nickname of "the floozy in the jacuzzi".

Having recently (2011) been given a new home in the Croppies Memorial Park (as it was initially embedded in the middle of a busy pedestrian island on O'Connel street) Anna Livia seemed to finally been given a "relaxed retirement".

I personally found it to be exquisitely beautiful and the fact that the gardens were closed and didn't allow me the proximity and the photographic angle had me  awkward and  foolishly perch on the garden high fences so as to capture its image.

(To be continued)

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