On Monday the 9th of March, 6th class began their celebrations of Seachtain na Gaeilge with a trip to Dublin Castle. In spite of the weather, the day was really enjoyable. We began by visiting the Coach House, where there was a brilliant exhibition called ‘A hundred years of Women in Politics and Public Life’.
We then began our tour. The guide’s name was Norah and she had so many interesting (and gruesome!) stories to tell. She used to work for Horrible Histories and she was just as entertaining as the books! We went to the Tower first, where we learned that the Viceroy (king’s representative in Ireland) used to live in the castle but decided that he’d rather live in a palace and then (mysteriously!) there was a gunpowder explosion and the castle burnt to the ground…coincidence!? Some of the original walls of the castle are still standing and they are held together with a mixture of sand, manure and oxen blood, which is obviously a solid concoction as it has survived for hundreds of years.
We then visited the chapel where we saw the crests of all of the Viceroys of Ireland. Some of the names looked very familiar, such as Dorset, Northumberland, Grafton and Chesterfield. The Viceroy at the time, Charles Whitworth, was so fond of himself that he ensured that there was an image of himself in the stained glass, above Jesus Christ!
Next we entered the palace and we learned lots about the interesting things that happened there in the past. We discovered that at the debutant balls there was a very unpleasant odour, mainly because the girls wore make up made of lead, manure, bees’ wax and vinegar! When the room got too warm, the make up would often start to melt off their faces, hence the saying ‘Mind your bees’ wax’. Because the lead was poisonous, this often caused the girls’ eyebrows to fall out so they would stick on fake ones…made from mouse fur!
At banquets in the palace, foods such as swan and pineapple were served. Pineapple was a symbol of wealth and in today’s currency would be worth around five thousand Euro!
Many famous historical characters have links to Dublin Castle, including all of our presidents, who are inaugurated there, the signatories of the Proclamation, and the numerous British Monarchs who have visited the Castle. We had a great time on our trip.