Although Culture Night has been taking place in Dublin for a few years, this year was the first time that I was around and could take advantage of it. It was a great opportunity to visit Dublin museums, art centres, churches and other places of interest. My friend and I decided that our priority was to sneak into places that are not normally open to tourists. It proved to be quite a good strategy. First, it was the only opportunity to visit these places and secondly, it transpired that they did not draw as many visitors as the top attractions. I really didn’t feel like spending Culture Night queuing for hours.
The first place we visited was the Mendicity Institution, known to generations of Dubliners as “the Mendo”. This charity was founded in 1818 to help relieve poverty and to ensure that the wealthy would be spared the sight of streets crowded with beggars. Only parts of the original buildings remain but the Institution itself is still going strong. Costumed guides acted out a real interview with a woman who wished to get relief from the Institution. Visitors were able to try an oxhead and oatmeal soup prepared according to a 19th century recipe that was used to feed the beggars in the Institution. Visitors were able to compare this to its modern equivalent, an oxtail soup. In my opinion the soup intended for the 19th century paupers was actually nicer than the popular 21st century staple. I suspect that this might be a minority view though.
Later we paid a short visit to St Paul’s Church. At the moment the Catholic Church shares this building with the Syrian Orthodox Church. Sadly, the numbers of the Syrian congregation in Dublin is likely to have seen a sudden boost in numbers as a result of the tragic civil war in that country. On a lighter note, it was quite unusual to see a picture of an Irish saint, in this case St. Columba, in the Eastern style.
On the way towards Archbishop Marsh’s Library we managed to have a quick look at Smock Alley Theatre gallery and the City Hall.
I was really impressed with the small and inconspicuous Werburgh church which is only open for services twice a month.
When we finally got to Marsh’s Library we were told that it was already closed. It was a little bit disappointing. However, unlike other places that we visited that night, Marsh’s Library can be visited at any other time.