With the Open House festival taking place across the city and county over the weekend, the doors of a few interesting buildings opened to the public. We decided to take in the tour of the Mansion House at 3pm on Saturday, and I photographed a few things that I thought might interest CHTM readers. Sadly, I was armed only with a camera phone but forgive me that.
The tour of the Mansion House began in the beautiful Oak Room, where a fine portrait of the nationalist political leader Charles Stewart Parnell greets visitors. The most striking feature of the room I thought was the presence of the personal coats-of-arms of many former Lord Mayors. Rather than heraldic family crests, these are designed to give some insight into the personalities of the individuals. A particular favourite was this one from former Lord Mayor Ben Briscoe. Ben’s father, Robert Briscoe, was an IRA veteran of the revolutionary period who twice served as Lord Mayor of Dublin, becoming the first Jewish Lord Mayor in the history of the city. The Briscoe family were examined in a CHTM article on the Jewish community during the Irish revolutionary period.
In the hallway of the Mansion House, a plaque commemorates the financial assistance given by the Choctaw Native American people to the Irish during the years of the Great Hunger. A people who had themselves been displaced and dispossessed, it was a remarkable and unlikely act of solidarity. Gary White Deer, a representative of the Choctaw Nation, has visited Ireland and described this moment in history as a “sacred memory.”
Lastly, this beautiful window on the staircase is the work of Joshua Clarke, the father of the influential artist Harry Clarke, and demonstrates the considerable talent that was no doubt passed on to Harry. The window shows the official coat-of-arms of the office of the Lord Mayor, as well as the four provincial shields of Ireland. The names around it are those of famous Home Rule supporters, though today it is known as the ‘Peace Window’.