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lady on the rock

7 little things in Dublin you've always wondered about

Who the hell is Fr Pat Noise? What does the White Lady of the Northside mean? Find out in here.

NO MATTER HOW many times you’ve walked the streets of Dublin, new and previously unnoticed elements continuously spring up at you.

From plaques to art projects to antique signs, the city is awash with colourful details and hidden stories – here are seven of the most special. 

‘Death masks’

These white ‘death masks’ can be seen all over the city – the most easily found is the one placed over the face of this figure on Temple Bar’s Wall of Fame.

The death masks are in fact a face cast of the sculpture artist Gibb, who originally hails from Edinburgh. The project, called ‘The Heid’ (Scottish for ‘head’), began after Gibb left one face cast behind him in Stephen’s Green after an outdoor exhibition.

Back on the #vico theheidart theheidart

He was inspired to make more casts, and lose his ‘heid’ all over Dublin.

Tiny building on Dame St

Pictures of this seemingly thin, windowless building on Dame St have gone viral on sites like Reddit and 9gag.

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Here’s another view, which shows the roof is unconnected to the two buildings either side of it:

thinbuilding Google Maps Google Maps

Is it a real building? Is it just an entryway to the building to the left of it?

This one’s still stumping us.

Sick and Indigent Roomkeepers’ Society building

SONY DSC Flickr / William Murphy Flickr / William Murphy / William Murphy

The building near Dublin Castle is the site of the original headquarters of the city’s oldest surviving charity, which is still operating today from a different location.

Founded in 1790, it provides relief to the poor of Dublin “without distinction of religion, race or politics”.

The charity moved from the building in 1992, but the name remains carved into the plasterwork.

Father Pat Noise plaque, O’Connell Bridge

If you’re ever walking across O’Connell Bridge (on the side closest to the Ha’penny Bridge) look out for this dedication to Fr Pat Noise.

frpatnoise Wikimedia Commons Wikimedia Commons

This plaque commemorates Fr Pat Noise, advisor to Peadar Clancey. He died under suspicious circumstances when his carriage plunged into the Liffey on August 10th, 1919.

An interesting story – but Fr Pat Noise doesn’t actually exist.

The plaque is believed to have been placed there in 2004 by a bunch of chancers, as a statement about the council’s propensity for wasting money (specifically, on the doomed Millennium Countdown clock).

THE COUNTDOWN 2000 IN DUBLIN CITY,NATIONAL LOTTERY CLOCK LAUNCH.15/3/96.PIC BRENDA FITZSIMONS/PHOTOCALL IRELAND! The Millennium Clock, which projected the number of seconds until the Millennium on to the Liffey. Photocall Ireland Photocall Ireland

The plaque wasn’t brought to the attention of the city council until 2006, and it was removed during restoration work on the bridge in 2007. Another plaque was sneakily installed a while later, and it remains there to this day.

Diving bell, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay

7825519912_0f40f7f665_k Flickr / William Murphy Flickr / William Murphy / William Murphy

The odd-looking structure on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay is a Victorian diving bell, designed in 1860 by Bindon Blood Stoney to allow engineers to work underwater, inside the bell, on the construction of the new quays.

SONY DSC Flickr / William Murphy Flickr / William Murphy / William Murphy

St Andrew’s Resource Centre have compiled a booklet explaining the full history of the diving bell, which is available for free from their offices on Pearse Street.

Iveagh Buildings plaques

If you ever pass the old Iveagh Trust Buildings, look out for these bronze plaques featuring cryptic quotes dotted on the walls around Nicholas Street, Ross Road, Bride Street and Bride Road.

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The 21 plaques are part of a 2009 art project by Chris Reid called Heirlooms and Hand-me-downs, commissioned by Dublin City Council when they decided to refurbish the buildings. The quotes are taken from recordings Reid made from 2004 to 2008 with local residents.

If you ever get the chance to take them all in, check out this contextual map the artist created as a guide for visitors.

White Lady of the Northside


The statue of a reclining lady draped in white fabric is a feature of houses on the Northside and in the Liberties across the river, usually proudly on display in each of the windows facing the street.

ghvm / YouTube

Her real name is Lady On The Rock, and though she is a simple piece of plaster she has an almost mythic level of speculation. Some say she signifies that the house is a brothel. Some say she shows you where to buy drugs. Really, though? She’s just for decoration.

If you’re interested, peruse this thorough history of the phenomenon from Totally Dublin.

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