Dublin’s City Wall has been brought back to life on Cook Street with the recent instalment of floodlighting. The lights, installed by Dublin City Council, can be controlled electronically to alter the colour emitted for use during festivals and events such as Saint Patrick’s Day.
The settlement of Dublin was a defended stronghold throughout the medieval period, beginning with the first Viking earthen banks of the tenth and eleventh centuries which were followed by a substantial stone wall built by the Hiberno-Norse in c. 1100. Work on the city walls continued with the Anglo- Norman northern extension of the city in the thirteenth century and the walls went on to protect the citizens of Dublin long after 1500. By the eighteenth century, however, many of the gates and towers were prohibiting development and commerce, and were removed. Despite this, fragments of the city walls still survive and are visible today, as standing monuments in the urban landscape.
Sections of the Hiberno-Norse wall was discovered along Essex Street West and this street marks the line of the northern wall, which ran parallel to the Liffey, through the Civic Offices and along Cook Street where it still survives today. This limestone wall was substantial in size originally measuring c.7m in height by 2m wide, from stone quarried locally.
The junction of the Hiberno-Norse and the Anglo-Norman thirteenth-century extension wall lie under your feet the location of Buttavant tower, one of the gate-towers on the city wall circuit. Also of interest is the circular foundations of Isolde’s tower, the north-east corner tower on the new extension wall, which lies 30m to the north and can be viewed from the street (Exchange Street Lower), preserved in an underground chamber.
The Conservation Plan for the City Walls and Defences can be viewed here.
The city wall can still be seen in certain points in Dublin 2 and Dublin 8. Walk the old route of the walls with a trail which can be downloaded here.