This section is from the book "Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, And Superstitions Of Ireland", by Jane Francesca Wilde. Also available from Amazon: Ancient Legends, Mystic Charms, And Superstitions Of Ireland.
In the ancient stormy times of Norman rule, the nobility naturally gathered round the Castle. Skinner's Row was the "May Fair" of mediaeval Dublin. Hoey's Court, Castle Street, Cook Street, Fishamble Street, Bridge Street,
Werburgh Street, High Street, Golden Lane, Back Lane, etc, were the fashionable localities inhabited by lords and bishops, chancellors and judges; and Thomas Street was the grand prado where viceregal pomp and Norman pride were oftenest exhibited. A hundred years ago the Lord Lieutenant was entertained at a ball by Lord Mountjoy in Back Lane. Skinner's Row was distinguished by the residence of the great race of the Geraldines, called " Carbrie House," which from them passed to the Dukes of Ormond, and after many vicissitudes, the palace from which Silken Thomas went forth to give his young life lor Irish independence, fell into decay, " and on its site now stand the houses known as 6, 7, and 8, Christ Church Place, in the lower stories of which still exist some of the old oak beams of the Carbrie House."
In Skinner's Row also, two hundred years ago, dwelt Sir Robert Dixon, Mayor of Dublin, who was knighted at his own house there by the Lord-Lieutenant, the afterwards unfortunate Strafford. The house has fallen to ruins, but the vast property conferred on him by Charles I. for his good services, has descended to the family of Sir Kildare Burrowes, of Kildare. In those brilliant days of Skinner's Row, it was but seventeen feet wide, and the pathways but one foot broad. All its glories have vanished now ; even the name no longer exists ; yet the remains of residences once inhabited by the magnificent Geraldines and Butlers can still be traced.
Every stone throughout this ancient quarter of Dublin has a history. In Cook Street Lord Maguire was arrested at midnight, under circumstances very similar to the capture of Lord Edward Fitzgerald ; and " to commemorate this capture in the parish it was the annual custom, down to the year 1829, to toll the bells of St. Andrew's Church at twelve o'clock on the night of the 22nd of October."
In Bridge Street great lords and peers of the realm resided. The Marquis of Antrim, the Duke of Marlborough's father; Westenra, the Dutch merchant who founded the family afterwards ennobled, and others. It was the Mer-rion Square of the day. In Bridge Street the rebellion of '98 was organized at the house of Oliver Bond ; and one night Major Swan, led by Reynolds the informer, seized twelve gentlemen there, all of whom were summarily hanged as rebels. Castle Street was the focus of the rebellion of 1641 ; Sir Phelim O'Neil and Lord Maguire had their residences there, and concocted together how to seize the Castle, destroy all the lords and council, and re-establish Popery in Ireland. But a more useful man than either lived there also-Sir James Ware, whose indefatigable ardour in the cause of Irish literature caused him to collect, with great trouble and expense, a vast number of Irish manuscripts, which, after passing through many vicissitudes, are now deposited in the British Museum. The French family of Latouche came to Castle Street about one hundred years ago, and one of them, in 1778, upheld the shattered credit of the Government by a loan of ,£20,000 to the Lord-Lieutenant. Fishamble Street has historical and classic memoirs, and traditions,of Handel consecrate this now obscure locality.
Handel spent a year in Dublin. His " Messiah " was composed there, and first performed for the benefit of Mercer's Hospital. How content he was with his reception is expressed in a letter to a friend. " I cannot," he says, "sufficiently express the kind treatment I receive here, but the politeness of this generous nation cannot be unknown to you."
Dublin Quays are likewise illustrated by great names. On Usher's Quay may still be seen the once magnificent Moira House, the princely residence of Lord Moira, afterwards Marquis of Hastings, Governor-General of India. A hundred years ago it was the Holland House of Dublin, sparkling with all the wit, splendour, rank, and influence of the metropolis. The decorations were unsurpassed in the kingdom for beauty and grandeur. The very windows were inlaid with mother-o'-pearl.
After the Union, the family in disgust quitted Ireland ; Moira House was left tenantless for some years, and then finally was sold for the use of the pauper poor of Dublin. The decorations were removed, the beautiful gardens turned into offices, the upper storey of the edifice was taken off, and the entire building pauperized as much as possible to suit its inmates and its title-" The Mendicity."
In the good old times the Lord Mayor treated the Lordr Lieutenant to a new play every Christmas, when the Corporation acted Mysteries upon the stage in Hoggin Green, where the College now stands. The Mysteries were on various subjects. In one, the tailors had orders to find Pilate and his wife clothed accordingly ; the butchers were to supply the tormentors ; the mariners and vintners represented Noah. At that period the Lord-Lieutenants held their court at Kilmainham, or Thomas Court, for Dublin
Castle was not made a viceregal residence until the reign of Elizabeth. The parliaments, too, were ambulatory. Sometimes they met in the great aisle of Christ Church, that venerable edifice whose echoes have been destined to give back such conflicting sounds. What changes in its ritual and its worshippers I What scenes have passed before its high altar since first erected by the Danish bishop, whose body, in pallium and mitre, lay exposed to view but a few years since, after a sleep of eight hundred years. Irish kings and Norman conquerors have trod the aisles. There Roderick was inaugurated, the last king of Ireland ; there Strongbow sleeps, first of the Norman conquerors, and, until the middle of the last century, all payments were made at his tomb, as if in him alone, living or dead, the citizens had their strength ; there Lambert Simnel was crowned with a crown taken from the head of the Virgin Mary ; there Cromwell worshipped before he went forth to devastate ; there the last Stuart knelt in prayer before he threw the last stake at the Boyne for an empire ; and there William of Nassau knelt in gratitude for the victory, with the crown upon his head, forgotten by James in his ignominious flight.