Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane

IMG_0563The beautiful Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane houses a collection on modern and contemporary Irish and International art – located in Charlemont House on Parnell Square in a neo-classical town house designed in 1765 by William Chambers for James Caulfield, the first Earl of Charlemont.

The Gallery’s collection includes the renowned Hugh Lane bequest of 39 French paintings shared with the National Gallery in London, including masterpieces by Manet, Monet, Degas, Renoir and Morisot. The collection also includes works presented by artists who were sympathetic to Lane’s vision – among them, the Irish artists Roderic O’Connor and Jack B. Yeats (one of my favorite).

I especially enjoyed three exhibits.

The Stained Glass Room and Harry Clark’s beautiful stained glass work, The Eve of St. Agnes, is exquisite. During many trips to Dingle, Co. Kerry, I’ve had the pleasure of learning about and viewing Clark’s gorgeous windows in the Díseart Centre of Irish Spirituality and Culture (Ionad Spioradáltachta agus Cultúir Ghaelaigh).

The Sean Scully Room contains a collection of significant paintings from the 1980s to today and is bathed in natural light. It was great to see these gorgeous, nuanced, massive paintings – I have several of Scully’s books and love his work.

The Francis Bacon Studio complex consists of the artist’s studio relocated from London to Dublin (1998), his unfinished works, Melvyn Bragg’s celebrated interview with Francis Bacon in his studio, a very cool micro-gallery with interactive touch screens providing insights into Bacon’s studio materials and artifacts. It was fascinating to hear/see Bacon talking about his artistic process and to read about his approach to art-making and the importance of a chaotic creative studio environment.

IMG_0565The café and bookshop were delightful – here’s my photo of the bright and airy courtyard in the gallery’s new wing. I love Irish architecture and the use of glass to let in light. I had a tasty, light lunch of chicken and lentil soup and brown bread – a perfect capstone to the gallery visit.

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Garden of Remembrance

IMG_0532At the northern end of Parnell Square (just around the corner from our hotel), there is a beautiful small park dedicated to the men and women who’ve died in the pursuit of Irish freedom. This lovely Garden of Remembrance marks the spot where several leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising were held overnight before being taken to Kilmainham Gaol. It was also where the Irish Volunteers movement was formed in 1913.

The park also commemorates those who died in other conflicts in the struggle for Irish freedom, notably: the 1798 rebellion; the 1803 rebellion; the Young Ireland rebellion; the Fenian uprising in the 1860s; the land wars, and the Irish War of Independence between 1919 and 1922.

Designed by Daithí Hanly, the garden was opened by President Éamon de Valera in 1966, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising. In the center of the garden’s well-kept lawn is a cruciform reflecting pool. A mosaic on the floor of the pool depicts abandoned, broken swords, pears and shields, symbolizing peace. The focal point at the west end of the garden is a large bronze sculpture (1971) by Oisín Kelly of the legendary Children of Lir, who were changed into swans by their stepmother. The statue symbolizes the rebirth of the Irish nation following 900 years of struggle for independence from England and, later, the United Kingdom, much as the swans were “reborn” following 900 years.