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As Dublin Castle is located south of the River Liffey and well west of the O'Connell Street bridge, getting there involved a fair amount of walking for Nella and me (Philip had to walk even farther to reach his destination for the day, but more on that later), and a crossing of a very calm Liffey.
River Liffey from Grattan Bridge
River Liffey from Grattan Bridge

At the south end of the Grattan Bridge we noticed a building with some distinctive-looking colored friezes. As it turns out, this building is called Sunlight Chambers, and it was built in 1902 as the Dublin office for Lord Lever, as in Lever Brothers (a British company at the time). Lever Brothers' flagship product was a soap that used glycerin and vegetable oils instead of tallow. This product was called Sunshine Soap (hence the name of the building), and the friezes depict people making their lives better with soap and doing things (like farming) that make the use of soap necessary. As with the Dublin Spire, this piece of architecture met with a mixed reaction when it was unveiled, with one critic even calling it the "ugliest building in Dublin". If this was true at the time, I'm sure it has been surpassed since. But some (including me) no doubt disagree with this assessment, and the building is certainly unique. It is now occupied by private offices.
Sunlight Chambers Frieze
Sunlight Chambers Frieze

The original Dublin Castle was built by Vikings as a defensive fortification around 930 A.D., adjacent to a dark tidal pool that once existed where the River Liffey was joined by the River Poddle (the Poddle now flows underground). The name of the city derives from this pool, as it was called Dubh Linn, or "black pool" in Gaelic. The Vikings were eventually defeated by the native Irish, but in 1169 the Normans successfully invaded from England, and in 1204, King John of England commanded the building of a strengthened castle on the site. The resulting fortress had strong walls, a moat and several towers. As we walked from the north into the parking lot, it was impossible to miss the only tower remaining from this 13th Century fortress, a tower known as the Record Tower (which once served as a jail and is now a museum), with the more-recently-built Chapel Royal sitting next to it.
Dublin Castle from Parking Lot
Dublin Castle from Parking Lot
Chapel Royal and Record Tower
Chapel Royal and Record Tower

Passing through an archway to the right of the tower, we entered the castle's upper courtyard. The location and dimensions of this courtyard closely match those of the area enclosed within King John's fortress, though the structures surrounding it have changed considerably over the centuries. Throughout the British occupation of Ireland (until 1922), the buildings in the castle complex served as headquarters for the top representatives of the British crown (e.g. the Viceroys and Lords Lieutenant). A number of renovations were done during this time, usually to reconstruct something after a fire or because of structural instability. The current structures mostly date back to the 18th Century, and are in generally good condition.
Present-Day Courtyard
Present-Day Courtyard

The visual centerpiece of the courtyard is a building called the Bedford Tower, which has a clock tower and is flanked by two gates, called the Gates of Justice and Fortitude. The building has been used for a number of purposes (it once housed the Irish Crown Jewels, which were stolen in 1907 and never found), but at present it is used as a conference center.
Bedford Tower
Bedford Tower
Bedford Tower and Gates
Bedford Tower and Gates

Statue, Gate of Justice, John van Nost the Younger (1750)
Statue, Gate of Justice, John van Nost the Younger (1750)
Statue, Gate of Fortitude, John van Nost the Younger (1750)
Statue, Gate of Fortitude, John van Nost the Younger (1750)

Bob in Guard Box
Bob in Guard Box

Opposite the Bedford Tower are the State Apartments, which are used for official ceremonial purposes, including the inaugurations of the Irish Presidents. Tours are available, but we didn't partake.

Every ten years or so, when the rotating Presidency of the European Union rotates through Ireland, the castle is a center for EU functions. As this was not the case during our visit, the courtyard was playing host to sand sculptures. These sculptures were executed by a three-artist group called Duthain Dealbh ("fleeting sculpture"), which also does prize-winning ice sculptures.

Courtyard and Duthain Dealbh Sculptures
Courtyard and Duthain Dealbh Sculptures
Nella and Duthain Dealbh Sculptures
Nella and Duthain Dealbh Sculptures

iČ=jČ=kČ=ijk=-1, Daniel Doyle
iČ=jČ=kČ=ijk=-1, Daniel Doyle
iČ=jČ=kČ=ijk=-1 with Artist
iČ=jČ=kČ=ijk=-1 (flip side) with Artist

Light Pipes, Alan Magee
Light Pipes, Alan Magee

After exiting the courtyard the way we came, we paid a visit to the Chapel Royal, next to the Record Tower. Though it looks like it should be older, the Chapel is a Gothic revival construction, built in the early 19th Century.
Chapel Royal
Chapel Royal

From its completion in 1814 until the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the Chapel Royal was the chapel of the sitting Lord Lieutenant's household. Since the Chapel was built on soft ground, it was framed in timber to save weight and avoid settling as much as possible. The exterior has a thin outer layer of limestone, and the columns and vaulting in the interior are painted to give the effect of stone. The Chapel has wooden carvings or stained glass representations of the coats of arms of all of the royal representatives since the building of the castle. The Chapel's organ was a gift from Queen Victoria's consort, Prince Albert. The Church of Ireland Chapel was consecrated as a Catholic church in 1943, but no divine services have been performed in it for many years. The Chapel's crypt is sometimes used for cultural events, and the Chapel itself was used in The Tudors television series in recent years.
Inside the Chapel Royal
Inside the Chapel Royal
Stained Glass
Stained Glass

Columns and Windows
Columns and Windows
Balcony with Coats of Arms
Balcony with Coats of Arms

Cherubs
Cherubs
Chapel Organ
Chapel Organ

South of the castle and covering part of the historical location of the Dubh Linn pool is the aptly named Dubh Linn Garden. The Garden consists of a large circular lawn, with bits of foliage clustered around its perimeter, and collected into small "sub-gardens" in the corners. There is a walkway around the lawn, and there are paths through the sub-gardens. Embedded in the lawn are narrow, curved brick pathways, which apparently constitute a Celtic design when seen from above. The garden was created in the mid-1990's, and one of the requirements for its design was the ability to land helicopters in it for easy access to the Castle (the Presidency of the EU rotated through Dublin in 1996). There are circles of lights in the ground to help the pilots at night or in times of low visibility.
Dubh Linn Garden
Dubh Linn Garden
Historical Layout Showing Location of Garden
Historical Layout Showing Location of Garden

Inscriptions Above Entrance
Inscriptions Above Entrance
Record Tower and Chapel Royal from Garden
Record Tower and Chapel Royal from Garden

Along the south edge of the garden (and pre-dating the garden considerably) is the Coach House, which was built in 1833 to house the Lord Lieutenant's coach and horses. It's now used for exhibition space.
Nella and Coach House
Nella and Coach House

Just west of the garden is the Chester Beatty Library, in which are displayed manuscripts, small paintings and art objects from countries across Europe, Asia and Northern Africa.
Chester Beatty Library from Garden
Chester Beatty Library from Garden
Peacock Weather Vane, Beatty Library
Peacock Weather Vane, Beatty Library

We had ambitious plans for the rest of the day, which unfortunately didn't leave us time to visit the Beatty Library. After a short visit to the garden, we left and headed for our next destination, the Christ Church Cathedral.