by Reetika KhannaJun 29, 2020
What would the Irish do with an old, deconsecrated church? Turn it into a pub, of course! The Church, formerly St. Mary's Church built in the late 17th century, is a stylish bar and restaurant in Dublin. The pageantry of the original structure—lofty cathedral ceiling, resplendent stained glass windows, a majestic organ—are the cynosure for the Church's expresso-martini-sipping habitués. Dublin's predilection and proficiency in zesting the zeitgeist with the elapsed are evident in its edgy yet elegant restorations and contemporary constructions.
A literary enthusiast may even hear echoes of Dublin's trailblazing writers of yore like Oscar Wilde, James Joyce, George Bernard Shaw, and Samuel Beckett in the city's progressive perspective. A short distance from The Church, the Samuel Beckett bridge with its sinewy steel cables designed to resemble a harp (Ireland's national symbol), spans across the ripples of River Liffey. Visible toward the east, is the Ha'penny Bridge adorned with white, cast iron lantern lights from a bygone era. The adjacency of the two bridges set apart in aesthetics and century of construction, much like the revivification of The Church, comfortably juxtaposes the old to the new.
Across time and troubles, the Irish have held together their feisty soul. Kipling once wrote, "For where there are Irish, there's loving and fighting." Undoubtedly, discourse around pertinent issues takes place in neighbourhood pubs serving black pudding cakes to be downed with the legendary Guinness beer (it takes an infusion of approximately 30 million tiny nitrogen bubbles to create the perfect pint!). Pubs, like pastures and dozing sheep, are part of the Irish landscape. And if further evidence was needed, the countless bottle caps repeatedly crushed underfoot and pressed into cobblestone streets like fossils in the Temple Bar neighbourhood are plenty proof.
There are several relatively new distilleries in the Liberties, an evolving neighbourhood home to eclectic art galleries and tech hubs. And while distilleries are keen to make their mark with singular brews and masterful blends, the decor in the tasting and visitor areas and boutique whiskey bars enhance the libations. Luxurious couches and tailored leather chairs offer comfortable seating between strategically positioned barrels and crates. Curated coffee table books on whiskeys and such are scattered around just so. And as one might expect, prized whiskey is displayed in backlit vitrines like invaluable heirlooms.
Barrels deemed unusable for turning water into liquid gold, as the Irish would say, are repurposed as chairs, tables, shelves, and chandeliers in homes and shared spaces. The light spilling from between the long ribs of suspended barrels illuminates a generous foyer in the Teeling Distillery. Empty beer and whiskey bottles, too, are refashioned with canny intent. At the Jameson Distillery, I, along with fellow whiskey tasting tourers, attempted in vain to count the number of green bottles hanging from the ceiling in the way of an imposing chandelier. A task perhaps better tackled without the famed Irish tonic warming one's veins!
Like brown sauce—an essential component of condiment selection proffered in every eatery in Ireland—the colour green seems ubiquitous. From grassy countryside fields and velvety moss mounds on roofs to ophidian walls and veneers. A fascinating kaleidoscope of colours pops up unexpectedly around Merrion Square and St. Stephen's Green towards the south of the city.
Behold the famous Doors of Dublin! Awash in myriad rhapsodic hues, these eye-catching doors, fronts to cookie-cutter homes, are as bold as Irish spirits.