Friday, November 14, 2014

#FBF: St. Stephen's Green

There are days—like today—when it’s cold and things just aren't going my way and I want to be back in Dublin, sitting on a bench in St. Stephen’s Green…

Likened to Central Park, St. Stephen’s Green is a countryside getaway in the middle of the city. Located right off Grafton Street (Dublin’s shopping hub), it’s a beautiful expanse of greens, trees, ponds and flower gardens, with fitting memorials to Ireland and Irish independence interspersed throughout. Even though I had limited time on my own in Dublin, I spent a lot of time exploring (and photographing) St. Stephen’s Green. You can get completely lost along its many walkways, and sometimes that is exactly what you need.
I was really excited to see the ducks and the swans in the many ponds in the Green. I remember I didn’t have any bread in my dorm where I was staying, but I did take along a tortilla (yes, I had tortillas in Ireland!) and that worked just fine. The swans didn't really appreciate it, but the pigeons and the other birds did! And there are lots of pigeons…hundreds! All beautiful and shiny and grey. You could be lulled to sleep by their gentle cooing—in fact, I saw several people doing just that, taking an afternoon nap under a tree next to water.

St. Stephen’s Green is a great place to come, pick a spot, throw down a blanket and just relax. There’s such a perfect balance between busy and peaceful in the Green that you can people-watch and still feel fairly anonymous. You can throw a Frisbee around, feed the ducks (and pigeons) or, as I mentioned before, take a nap. Or you can lose yourself walking and discovering all the beautiful things St. Stephen’s Green has to offer.

For those interested in Ireland’s history, St. Stephen’s Green is like an Easter egg hunt. Scattered throughout the Green are various statues, fountains, memorials, and other artwork that lets you in on various aspects of this country’s amazing history. One of my personal favorites was a fountain depicting the Three Fates given to Ireland after World War II by West Germany. Surrounded by a pool of water, the Three Fates sit, holding someone’s fate in their hands. Is it your fate? Or Ireland’s? I was at a major transitioning point in my life at the time of my visit and I remember being struck by these three women, holding fate in their hands. It was an almost holy spot, a place that you could feel connected to the Fates somehow, and ask them to be kind to you.

Another one of my favorites was a memorial to Thomas M. Kettle, the famous Irish poet and home-rule advocate that was killed during World War I while serving in the Royal Dublin Fusiliers.* Also a political journalist, Mitchell called attention to the horrible conditions in which Ireland’s poor were living—a cause that he also advocated.* Those causes can be witnessed on the bottom of his memorial, as it reads, “Died Not For Flag, Nor King, Nor Emperor. But For A Dream Born In A Herdsman’s Shed, And For The Secret Scripture Of The Poor.”

If you’re a plant enthusiast, there are plenty of species of plant life to discover while walking around. There are numerous beautifully tended flower beds hosting a variety of striking and different plants and flowers. The flowers provide a striking pop of color against the grasses and shrubbery, making for excellent photo opportunities.

The first day I went to the Green, it was slightly overcast (surprise, surprise), but, on my second visit, the sun was out in full blast and allowed me to take some pretty amazing photos. I was so lucky to be there that second day, as I saw quite a few things I missed and even got to see this giant fish (see picture below) that was so close to me I could have reached in and grabbed it! 

For me, St. Stephen’s Green is must for anyone visiting Dublin. After a hard day shopping on Grafton Street (and you will shop—trust me!) stroll through the archway at the entrance to the Green and reward yourself with a little relaxation. And of course, don’t forget to bring some bread along for the birds!

 Thanks for reading! I hope you enjoyed, and I hope this made you want to visit St. Stephen's Green!

I'll try to get back to posting on Mondays and Thursdays, now that I'm not ill!


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