Dramatic doors, designer distilleries and dozing sheep: Postcard from Dublin, Ireland

Writer and avid traveller, Reetika Khanna's keen observations of all things design come together in a series of postcard entries from quaint quarters across the world.

by Reetika Khanna Dec 13, 2019

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.

An Irish blessing of sorts! | Dublin | STIRworld
An Irish blessing of sorts! Image Credit: Reetika Khanna

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.

  • Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral | Dublin | STIRworld
    Inside St. Patrick's Cathedral Image Credit: Reetika Khanna
  • Stained glass window in St. Patrick's cathedral | Dublin | STIRworld
    Stained glass window in St. Patrick's cathedral Image Credit: Reetika Khanna

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.

  • A popular pub bustling on a weekday evening | Dublin |  STIRworld
    A popular pub bustling on a weekday evening Image Credit: Reetika Khanna
  • Barrel upon barrel at the Guinness Storehouse trace the story of the heady brew | Dublin | STIRworld
    Barrel upon barrel at the Guinness Storehouse trace the story of the heady brew Image Credit: Reetika Khanna
  • An interactive exhibit at the Guinness Storehouse elucidates the importance of nitrogen infusion| Dublin | STIRworld
    An interactive exhibit at the Guinness Storehouse elucidates the importance of nitrogen infusion Image Credit: Reetika Khanna
  • Inside the Temple Bar | Dublin | STIRworld
    Inside the Temple Bar Image Credit: Reetika Khanna
  • Tasting time at the Guinness Storehouse| Dublin | STIRworld
    Tasting time at the Guinness Storehouse Image Credit: Reetika Khanna

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.

Old whiskey barrels fashioned as light fixtures at the Teeling Distillery | Dublin | STIRworld
Old whiskey barrels fashioned as light fixtures at the Teeling Distillery Image Credit: Reetika Khanna

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!

  • Discarded drums serve a new purpose | Dublin | STIRworld
    Discarded drums serve a new purpose Image Credit: Reetika Khanna
  • Can one guess how many green bottles are hanging above?  | Dublin | STIRworld
    Can one guess how many green bottles are hanging above? Image Credit: Reetika Khanna

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.

  • Dipped in the sun – the eclectic doors of Dublin | Dublin | STIRworld
    Dipped in the sun – the eclectic doors of Dublin Image Credit: Reetika Khanna
  • Classic Blue door with a staid exterior wall that surprises with its glossy look | Dublin | STIRworld
    Classic Blue door with a staid exterior wall that surprises with its glossy look Image Credit: Reetika Khanna
  • Regal Turquoise – the eclectic doors of Dublin | Dublin | STIRworld
    Regal Turquoise – the eclectic doors of Dublin Image Credit: Reetika Khanna

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.

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About Author

Reetika Khanna

Reetika Khanna

Author of Kismetwali & Other Stories, Khanna is an Atlanta-based freelance writer with an eye for style and a palate for adventure. A former flight attendant, she honed her writing skills at Emory, and Georgetown University, US. She has worked with ELLE as a Senior Features Writer, and as an Associate Features Editor with ELLE DÉCOR, Mumbai. Khanna, who likes to document her travels around the world, is currently working on her second book.

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