All posts by Seán Silke

Airfield Estate

Airfield Estate

In 1893, a successful Dublin solicitor named Trevor Overend purchased an 18th century farmhouse in Dundrum, Co. Dublin. The property was eventually inherited by his two daughters, Letitia and Naomi Overend. They lived there all their lives and prior to their death they set up the Airfield Trust, so that the estate would be kept intact for educational and recreational purposes.

The Overend ladies were well known for their prize-winning Jersey herd, named after characters from Gilbert & Sullivan operettas. They were regular prize winners at the RDS Spring Show. Their life and times can be appreciated via the Airfield House exhibition. The lasting effects of their fundraising and charity work for St John’s Ambulance brigade and Children’s Sunshine Home can be seen through an impressive collection of photographs, diaries and press clippings. They were also ladies who knew how to enjoy themselves, as evidenced by the memorabilia they gathered from their travels. Both sisters were also very interested in gardening.

The Airfield farm, gardens, restaurant and heritage experience offer visitors a unique opportunity to enjoy and learn about food, farming, gardening, history and heritage in a natural and relaxed environment.

Airfield farm is the life blood of the estate, supplying the Overends restaurant with food and the gardens with fertiliser. Two farmers are on hand to guide visitors through the workings of the farm, from daily milking to egg collecting, mucking out and feeding. The new farmyard includes livestock housing and stables and allows easy visitor access to the animals, the milking parlour and dairy kitchen.

Throughout the year specialised events like lambing, calving and shearing highlight what is typically going on in farms around the country. Airfield is a working farm with a milking Jersey herd, as well as sheep, pigs, chickens and donkeys. The farm has 50 laying hens including Rhode Island Red Hybrids and fancy fowl such as Legbars and Arucanas.

There is a daily schedule of farming activities to watch – 10.00 am Egg collection at the hen houses; 10.30 am Jersey Herd Milking in the farmyard; and 11.00 am Calf feeding in the farmyard.

The gardens at Airfield have been re-designed by the award winning landscape designer Arabella Lennox-Boyd. There is a refurbished walled garden and a tea garden. The freshly designed New Food Garden is a place where Airfield shares its commitment to the production and consumption of local, seasonal home grown food. The vineyard is an interesting addition to an Irish kitchen garden as is the display of native Irish apple trees.

The display garage for vintage cars is a fine setting for Letitia’s 1927 Rolls Royce, Naomi’s Austin Tickford and Lily’s Peugeot Quadrilette.

Heritage tours of the family house, garage, gardens and farm daily from Wed-Sun at 11.30 am and 2.30 pm (check for availability).

Opening Hours
Jan-June: Mon-Sun 9.30 am-5.00 pm
July & Aug: Mon-Sun 9.30 am-6.00 pm
September: Mon–Sun: 9.30 am to 5.00 pm
Oct-Dec: Mon–Sun: 9.30 am to 4.00 pm
Restaurant opening hours: Mon – Fri: 9.30 am to 3.30 pm // Sat, Sun & Bank Holidays: 9.30 am to 4 pm (phone 01-9696666).

Closures can occur in January for essential site works and training.

www.airfield.ie

Overend Way, Dundrum, Dublin 14
Tel: 01-969 6666

Adults €10; concessions

The Ark

The Ark *****

The Ark is a unique, purpose-built cultural centre in the heart of Dublin’s Temple Bar, where children aged 2 -12 can explore theatre, music, literature, art, film, dance and more. The programme of world class performances, exhibitions and creative workshops changes every few weeks.

The Ark has a very busy programme for schools, providing primary school children with an exciting and enjoyable encounter with high-quality culture. The Ark aims to allow children to nurture their imaginations in an inspirational yet structured setting.

The Ark was designed by Michael Kelly and Shane O’Toole of Group 91 Architects and has received awards and praise for its innovative and contemporary design. Housed on the site of a former Presbyterian Meeting House (1728), it incorporates the carefully restored front facade of the church. It extends to 1,500 square meters (16,000 square feet) and houses a theatre, a gallery and a workshop.

The Ark’s core space, the Theatre, has been built to intimate proportions so as not to intimidate children. The amphitheatre-shaped space also adds to the feeling of warmth, and ensures that the audience feels closely connected to the performances.

“The Ark was one of the great and certainly one of the most enduring initiatives to come out of the reinvention of Temple Bar. My children loved the place, so warm and welcoming and fairly fizzing with creativity, and now that they are too old for it – but then, is one ever too old for The Ark? – they recall it with vivid fondness. Long may this wonderful children’s centre thrive.” [John Banville, novelist and screenwriter]

“I had a fantastic experience working with all the people at The Ark on The Giant Blue Hand. I found them hugely enthusiastic, extremely committed and with the highest production values, as high, if not higher than in any other professional theatre company. I honestly feel this production at The Ark has raised the bar for children’s theatre in this country.” [Marina Carr, Playwright, ‘The Giant Blue Hand’]

The Ark booking office is open Tuesday-Friday from 10.00 am-4.00 pm, and one hour before performances and workshops on weekends and in the evening. Groups attending events at The Ark can claim one free ticket with every 10 purchased, and can reserve tickets without having to make full payment at the time of the reservation. Phone to discuss your group’s requirements.

www.ark.ie

http://ark.ie/events

The Ark, A Cultural Centre for Children, 11a Eustace St, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

Tel: 01 670 7788

Ticket price guide: School bookings €5 per child; exhibitions €5; workshops and concerts €11.50-€12.50. Pre-booking absolutely essential.

Blessington Street Basin

Blessington Street Basin ***

A picturesque walled park with a landscaped walk around a large lake and plenty of places to sit. Built in the early 19th century to provide a clean water supply to the north of the city. From the 1860’s on, the Basin’s water was used to supply distilleries in Bow Street (Jamesons) and John’s Lane (Powers) until 1976. Completely refurbished in 1993/94 and now a quiet city haven, providing a “secret garden” for local residents and visitors alike. Bird sanctuary on the central island.

Open every day 10.00 am; closing time varies in line with nightfall.

www.dublincity.ie

Blessington Street Basin, Dublin 7.

Tel: 01-2225278

Free admission.

Bull Island and Dollymount Strand

Bull Island, or more properly North Bull Island, is an island located in Dublin Bay, about 5 km long and 800 m wide, lying roughly parallel to the shore off Clontarf, Raheny, Kilbarrack, and facing Sutton. The island, with a sandy beach known as Dollymount Strand running its entire length, is a relatively recent result of human intervention in the bay.

In times past, Dublin Bay had a long-running problem with silting, notably at the mouth of the River Liffey. After years of primitive dredging, an attempt to maintain a clear channel more effectively got under way when in 1715 construction of the Great South Wall began. In 1761, work on a stone pier commenced, working from the Poolbeg Lighthouse back to shore.

It was during this period that the building of a North Bull Wall was also proposed. When it was seen that the South Wall did not solve the silting problem, the authorities responsible for Dublin Port commissioned studies on the matter. Captain William Bligh, of “Bounty” fame, surveyed Dublin Bay for the Ballast Board in 1801, highlighting the potential of the North Bull sandbank.

A wooden bridge, the first Bull Bridge, was erected in 1819 to facilitate the construction of a stone wall. Started in 1820, the Bull Wall was completed in 1825.

Over the succeeding 48 years, the natural tidal effects created by the walls deepened the entry to the Liffey from 1.8 m to 4.8 m. Much of the silt now scoured from the river course was deposited on the North Bull, and a true island began to emerge, with people venturing out to the growing beach. The volume of visitors was increased when horse tram services to Clontarf began in 1873, and when a full tram line to Howth opened 1900, with stops in the Clontarf / Dollymount area.

In 1889, the Royal Dublin Golf Club, then located at Sutton, received permission to lay out a golf course at the city end of the island, and construct a clubhouse.

The island is connected to the mainland by the Bull Bridge, today a one-lane wooden road bridge (with weight and height restrictions) at the southern (Clontarf/ Dollymount) end, and by a broad causeway at Raheny.

Most of North Bull Island is the property of Dublin City Council, the exception being North Bull Wall, the breakwater beyond it, and the wooden bridge to it, which are owned by the Dublin Port Company (and closed for a day each year to ensure that no right of way is created), and the Royal Dublin Golf Club links. The bulk of the island makes up the largest park owned by the city.

North Bull Island has the most designations of any site in the Republic of Ireland and its importance for nature conservation has been recognised since 1914. It was the first National Bird Sanctuary (1931). Since 1981 it has been designated a biosphere reserve by UNESCO, the only biosphere reserve in the world located entirely in a capital city.

In 1988, it became a National Nature Reserve. It is of European Union importance, being a Special Protection Area under the EU Birds Directive and a Special Area of Conservation under the EU Habitats Directive. It is also a National Special Amenity Area since 1995, one of 3 in the Republic of Ireland. This recognises both its outstanding beauty and nature conservation values.

Bird species on the island include pale-bellied brent geese, Eurasian curlews, Eurasian oystercatchers, grey plovers, northern shovellers, little egrets, reed buntings and little terns. There are six terrestrial mammal species on the island: brown rats, red foxes, field mice, Irish hares, hedgehogs and European rabbits. Common seals and grey seals are also found in the surrounding waters and can regularly be seen on the sand at low tide at the tip of the island near Howth.

The Island is a breeding site. It is also home to many species of plants including the bee orchid, pyramidal orchid, Marsh Helleborine, Bee orchid and common spotted orchids. There is an Interpretative Centre at the end of the causeway on the right hand side which has displays and information on the flora and fauna of the island.

Dollymount Strand, the 5 km beach on the island, is a popular walking and recreational area. Many people learned to drive on the firm flat sandy foreshore at low tide. Parking areas allow access for those who wish to sit in their cars and look out to sea watching the ships and ferries. The island has two golf courses, the more famous belonging to the Royal Dublin Golf Club, and the newer to St. Anne’s Golf Club.

This information has been adapted from the excellent Wikipedia article cited below.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bull_Island

Butlers Chocolate Experience

Butlers Chocolate Experience

What really goes on behind the doors of a working chocolate factory? Where does Butlers chocolate come from and how it is made? Would you like to learn about the different types of chocolate and how handcrafted Butlers Chocolate assortments, fudge and toffee, hot chocolate and the finest chocolate bars are created?

Find out by booking a guided tour at the Butlers Chocolate Experience, with plenty of chocolate tastings along the way. Watch the Chocolate Movie, wander around the Chocolate Museum, savour the aroma from the Chocolate Gallery and decorate your own chocolate novelty to bring home in the Chocolate Experience room.

Although the company was founded in 1932, the Butlers Irish Chocolates brand was not created till 1984. In 2011 Butlers Chocolates were named Food & Drink Exporter of the Year at the Irish Exporters Awards.

Tours generally run daily at 10.00 am, 12 noon and 3.30 pm Monday to Saturday and on Bank Holidays. Tour times can be subject to change on occasion. Please double check the official website booking calendar.

Please note that the factory itself does not operate at weekends or on bank holidays.

All bookings must be made in advance.

http://www.butlerschocolates.com/chocolateexperience/

Butlers Chocolates, Clonshaugh Business Park, Dublin 17

Tel: 01 6710599

Adults/children €12.85 (when you book online)

Chocolate Warehouse

Chocolate Warehouse

Take a unique and special journey through the history and joy of making chocolate. A 25 minute film explains in detail the story of chocolate and how the cocoa beans are grown and harvested. The film shows the journey of the cocoa beans from country of origin to the factory and the process the cocoa beans go through to create modern chocolate.

Visitors are given a demonstration on how both chocolates and Easter eggs are made. They are shown the machinery needed to make chocolate. The “hands on” session involves visitors putting on aprons, coating chocolates, adding toppings and hand piping with white chocolate. All participants get to decorate and package their own chocolate to take home.

Fun for both children and adults. Booking essential.

www.chocolatewarehouse.ie

Mulcahy Keane Industrial Estate, Greenhills Road, Walkinstown, Dublin 12

Tel: 01-4500080

Adults €12.50; concessions

The Church

The Church **

The former St. Mary’s Church of Ireland is one of the earliest examples of a galleried church in Dublin. Built at the beginning of the 18th century, it boasts many outstanding features, such as the Renatus Harris built organ and a spectacular stained glass window. Important historical figures associated with St. Mary’s include Arthur Guinness, Sean O’Casey, Wolfe Tone, John Wesley, Jonathan Swift and George Frederic Handel.

St. Mary’s closed in 1964 and lay derelict for a number of years. Beautifully restored, it is now a café, bar and restaurant.

A self-guided tour is available in The Church everyday between 11.00 am and 4.00 pm.

www.thechurch.ie

The Church Café, Bar and Restaurant, Junction of Mary St & Jervis St, Dublin 1.

Tel: 01 828 0102.

Dublin Civic Trust

Dublin Civic Trust

Dublin Civic Trust’s former headquarters is the only surviving Georgian building on historic Castle Street. Now fully restored to its former glory, this handsome merchant town house and shop is one of the last buildings of its type and period in Dublin to remain intact, and was until recently home to the Dublin Civic Trust’s offices and exhibition centre. No. 4 Castle Street is now in private hands.

Established in 1992 as an educational trust with charitable status, the Trust is an independent organisation that works to recognise and protect the city’s architectural heritage. It is dedicated to the principles of building identification, sensitive repair with minimal intervention, and the appropriate use of the city’s historic building stock.

Through conservation courses and seminars, the Trust educates the public about the resource value of period buildings. It promotes best practice for the repair and maintenance of historic buildings. It campaigns for the sensitive development and enhancement of Dublin’s historic city core in a manner that maximises the unique and irreplaceable resource value of Dublin’s historic building stock, streets and spaces.

The Trust produces major policy documents and undertakes consultancy work. It publishes the popular “Period Houses, A Conservation Guidance Manual”. Its series of books on the secondary streets of Dublin is also well regarded.

Since its establishment, the Trust has engaged in many projects relating to the built heritage of the city, including:

  • Recording structures on many of Dublin’s principal and secondary streets, such as Henrietta Street, Capel Street, Dawson Street and Aungier Street
  • Completely restoring five historic buildings (some in danger of demolition) through the Trust’s Revolving Fund; and reinstating additional buildings in conjunction with Dublin City Council
  • Compiling Architectural Conservation Area policies/inventories for Dublin City Council – O’Connell Street & Environs, and Thomas Street & Environs in the Liberties
  • Publishing historical and advisory leaflets on building typologies particular to residential streets in the Liberties area, and hosting lectures about caring for period homes
  • Publishing many inventory and policy documents on built heritage (e.g. an Inventory of Dublin Historic Street Paving and Furniture)
  • An evaluation of the historic core of Dublin as defined by its Georgian squares and major connecting commercial streets, commissioned by Dublin City Business Association.

Current projects of importance include an action plan for historic Thomas Street in The Liberties for Dublin City Council, with an emphasis on maximising its historic building stock; a study of the gable-fronted house tradition in Dublin of the 17th and early 18th centuries; and assessing options for saving a stretch of historic streetscape of North King Street that closes the vista of the north side of Smithfield.

Dublin Civic Trust regularly publishes books, pamphlets and information leaflets on the built heritage of Dublin. Its popular series of books on the secondary streets of Dublin brings the reader through the origins of each street, the history and architecture of their historic building stock, a full building inventory, and a vision for improvement. Other publications focus on specific topics of historical and architectural interest. You can buy these online.

Between 1992 and 2000, the Trust restored a number of historic buildings in the city – some of which were proposed for demolition – through the mechanism of a Building Conservation Revolving Fund. The Fund proved to be an innovative and cost effective method of saving and restoring endangered historic buildings in the city.

In total, five properties were restored by the Trust (Number 10 and 11 South Frederick Street, No. 21 Aungier Street, No. 4 Castle Street). The Trust was instrumental in saving further properties in conjunction with Dublin City Council such as the former City Weights and Measures on Harry Street and the rare mews buildings of Numbers 14 and 15 St. Stephen’s Green. The positive effects of the Fund went well beyond individual buildings, stimulating further improvements in key city centre streets such as South Frederick Street and Andrew Street.

To read a detailed account of the restoration of No. 4 Castle Street, see http://dublincivictrust.ie/building-projects/4-castle-street

www.dublincivictrust.ie

18 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7

Tel: 01 8749 681

Helen Dillon's Garden

Dublin Gardens Group

The picture above is of the much loved and much missed Helen Dillon’s Garden, closed permanently at the end of September 2016.

You may be interested in a number of not so well known Dublin area gardens which are described in detail on www.dublingardens.com/cms.

These locations include:

Corke Lodge (www.dublingardens.com)
Dower House (www.dublingardens.com)
Knockrose (www.dublingardens.com)
Lambs Cross Garden (www.dublingardens.com)
Mornington Garden (www.dublingardens.com)
Riversdale Gardens (www.dublingardens.com)
Trudder Grange Garden (www.dublingardens.com)
Tyrrelstown House (www.dublingardens.com)

The Dublin Garden Group consists of Ireland’s most distinguished private gardens in the greater Dublin area – some of them world famous and others secret gems – whose discovery has been the highlight of many a Garden Tour.

The owners of these private gardens, most of which are not open to the public, would like to welcome groups to share their enthusiasm for and knowledge of their plants and designs at a time when they can see them at their best.

 

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory

Dunsink Observatory, opened in 1785, was the first building in Ireland specifically constructed for scientific research. Ireland’s greatest mathematician/scientist, William Rowan Hamilton, lived and worked here.

Originally part of Trinity College Dublin, it was purchased by the state in 1947 when the School of Cosmic Physics was established (as part of the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies).

The Observatory is used nowadays mainly for public outreach,  workshops/conferences, and as visitor accommodation. Rooms can also be hired by external parties.

Open Nights are held on the 1st and 3rd Wednesdays of each month during the winter months (October-March). Weather permitting, visitors can view celestial objects through the historic Grubb Telescope. There are also audio-visual presentations, lectures on a wide variety of topics in astronomy, and question and answer sessions. Open nights are free of charge.

From time to time Dunsink Observatory holds a special evening for parents and children who would like to meet a real astronomer and explore the night sky together. This family event begins at 7.30 pm with a short presentation, followed by live stargazing (weather permitting) and a question and answer session.

School/College trips to Dunsink Observatory can be arranged if booked beforehand. These trips can be organised for day or evening time.

www.dunsink.dias.ie

Dunsink Observatory, Castleknock, Dublin 15.

Re Open Nights, phone Hilary O’Donnell at 087-6294966 or email hod@cp.dias.ie

For general queries, phone 01 4406656.