Today is Handel’s Day in Dublin! Why April 13th you ask? Well, today is the day when Handel premiered the Messiah in the Musick Hall on Fishamble Street. The Musick Hall is now an apartment block, (sad). I will show a photo of the center of apartment block later in the post.
Anyway, to celebrate this momentous occasion the Temple Bar City Trust throws a party every year. I don’t know if anyone know Handel hung out in Dublin. I myself didn’t know until last year when we visit St. Michans Church. As we were entering the church the Mr jokingly said that Handel practiced organ music there. He thought he was kidding but he was right! It was mentioned in the pamphlet. I guess he is smarter than he think he is! As an aside, if you are ever in Ireland, I highly recommend you check out the St. Michans Church. It’s a Church of Ireland Church full of history (started by Vikings, etc) and it’s got a crypt with mummies! Yes, you heard right crypt with mummies! You can do a tour and the tour guide will let you touch the mummy, who happens to be a Knight from the Crusades, too! I of course didn’t touch it, but Mr and Joe touched it. Click here and here to see more information on the mummies.
We got up early and caught a train to town and met up with the tour at Wolf Tone Park. Since it’s a Wednesday, I didn’t think there were going to be many people. Boy was I wrong! There were about 200 people at the tour. Mostly locals.
This is Pat Liddy, a local historian, and our also tour guide!
He also has his own company, and if you are doing a tour of Dublin I highly recommend looking at his company. His tour was a total gas! He’s funny and full little tid bits of the city.
We started at the Mercy Hospital. He gave us a little talk about how Handel end up in Dublin. You can read all about it here.
He took us around town and told us a bit history of the street names. Did you know that Copper Alley Street was called that because a nice lady used to hand out coppers to the homeless? He also took us to the old Dublin City Wall, near Cook Street. In the old times, anything that’s related to Fire such as cooks, blacksmiths, etc were kept outside of the wall. Back then the buildings are made of wood, so in case there’s a fire the city would be protected. How brilliant!
We walked through the market to get to the Debtor’s Prison. The Prison is long gone and in it’s place is no a park for kids. It’s got a nice sad statue!
There used to be public execution here as well. It was entertainment back then when there was no TV. Thank god there is TV now.
I didn’t get a chance to take photos of this, but if you walk along the side of the park, you will see these walled off arched windows on the ground floor. Apparently, the debtors used to beg for money through these windows.
Then we went to St Michans. As I mentioned earlier, it’s built by the Vikings and is super old Church. It’s got an awesome stain glass window and the organ Handel practiced on.
Then off we went around the city some more.
The side of Christ Church you don’t often see:
We ended up in an amphitheater next to Christ Church.
Why did we go to the Hospital and Debtor’s Prison? Well, it’s because the Messiah was written to raise money to get people out of the hospital and debtor’s prison!
Our last stop was the Musick Hall. It’s now an apartment block but Pat has a key to the court yard so we can go check it out!
The very first concert of the Messiah was given at noon, April 13th. Why noon? Well back then Dublin at night was dangerous so made sense to hold it during the day. The Musik Hall was also the biggest hall at the time, seating 600 people! To squeeze as many people in as they could, the ladies were asked to not to wear the hoopiest skirt they had and the gentlemen were asked to leave their swords at home. It must have been quite a sight.
Then we went to the concert. Because we were pretty late getting to the concert hall (outside of the gates of the apartment building) we didn’t really get to see the choir and orchestra. They were good though.
Later we went to Queen of Tarts for lunch. I was so hungry I ate my Tart without taking a photo. But I did take photo of my Victoria Sponge Cake.
On the way to the train station, I saw this. All my favorite things. Gnome and beer in an old man pub!