The Dublin Castle isn’t a castle like you picture when you think of Irish castles. The original medieval castle, used for over 450 years, burned down in 1684. The palace you visit today was built on that site. If you’re like me and expect a traditional Irish castle, the entrance can be confusing. The door to the right is the entrance to the tour.
The castle was handed over to General Michael Collins and Ireland in 1922 when British rule came to an end. The areas you can visit, the State Apartments, are still used today for state events.
The State Apartments are full of grandiose decor and splendor. The sweeping staircase you see when you first enter, the Battleaxe Staircase, dates back to 1749. You can picture hundreds of years of queens, princesses, and dignitaries making grand entrances on the staircase. It’s still used for the first formal photograph of each new President of Ireland, as well as the spot for photos of guests of the Irish State.
As you walk through the rooms and down the State Corridor, you see dozens of works of art, mainly portraits, but also gorgeous period furniture. My favorite room was the State Drawing Room. The plush furniture and cozy atmosphere made it the perfect place to withdrawal to a more comfortable place in the palace (hence the name Drawing Room). The antique red furniture and card table also reminded me a lot of my grandma’s house.
The Throne Room was another favorite. I’m so fascinated by monarchies, especially the grand life they lived in previous centuries. It’s so wild to me that you could live this life of luxury and opulence, with very little basis as to why. Even modern monarchies (and powerful nepotism families) are just so damn interesting to me. Anyway, it’s obvious why I liked the Throne Room.
The Wedgwood Room dates back to 1777 and is the traditional blue and white you would expect. Wedgwood is a personal point of contention, so while it annoyed me, it was also quite lovely to look at.
St Patrick’s Hall is a grand ballroom, and the most important ceremonial room in Ireland. Every seven years, the Irish president is sworn in here. It’s also used for banquets when foreign heads of state visit Ireland.
The James Connolly Room holds a hospital bed that signifies the end of the life of Irish revolutionary leader James Connolly. From the castle-turned-hospital, he said goodbye to his wife and daughter, and was taken to Kilmainham Gaol where he was executed, tied to a chair, too close to death from a leg wound to stand.
There’s a lovely garden as well, but of course, it was raining when we were there (it’s rained every day we were in Dublin).
A visit to Dublin Castle is a quintessential stop on a visit to Dublin. If you’re not super interested in art or Irish history, it’s a quick visit perfect for breaking up a day of pub crawling.
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