The grandest public space in Dublin is College Green. Roughly triangular in shape, it has three of Dublin’s finest public buildings fronting onto it: Trinity College West Front, the Houses of Parliament, and the General Post Office. In the centre is the equestrian statue of William III. Leading off it from the three corners are the great shopping streets, Dame Street and Grafton Street, and leading towards the river, College Street. It’s a lovely drive by carriage, sweeping down Cork Hill to Dame Street and entering the Green from the west. It is very fashionable to take an evening promenade by the Parliament House, strolling in the arcade formed by the columns. Posters for new plays, and other public notices, are displayed on the pillars and you can catch up with all the latest news as well as getting information about upcoming events here.
Back in the early '80s we saw the huge gathering of Volunteers before the Parliament House, what a spectacle that was! Rousing speeches were given that day and we all cheered. We have settled down with our own parliament now, but it does not have full legislative rights, some matters have to be referred to London. However, there is a great sense of occasion surrounding the workings of the Houses, lords come and go, proud orators preen themselves on the steps before entering. When petitions are being presented great ceremony can accompany the petitioners as they enter the building. The Lords’ Chamber is sumptuous, one of the most beautifully decorated spaces in the city, and it is a rare treat to be able to visit. The Parliament Coffee House is the place to be seen if you have ambitions in the political sphere. The Green is like the throbbing heart of the city when parliament is in session.
A new club, called Daly’s Club, is the talk of the town since it opened at the beginning of the year with a grand dinner. It’s a fine new building on the western edge of the Green at Dame Street. Designed by Francis Johnston, its interior is reputed to be lavish with grand chandelier lustres, inlaid tables and marble chimney pieces, and the chairs and sofas are white and gold upholstered in silk. Here the sons of the aristocracy and members of parliament can squander their wealth in gambling with cards and dice.
I see in the papers that Antoine Gerna is about to open a very fancy new reading room at his shop across from Trinity, next to the General Post Office on the south side of the Green. He’s calling it the Cabinet Littéraire, this would seem more pretentious, I suppose, if he wasn’t French himself, and fluent in French and Italian.
Members can make themselves comfortable at his blazing fireplace reading all the recent newspapers in French and Italian, and browsing all the new pamphlets. I hope it’s a success, it will probably attract the Trinity crowd, the students are always glad of a warm place to sit! I’m sure the politicians from across the way in the Houses of Parliament will be happy to be seen there, and at least pretend to be interested in current affairs in the European and American lands.