The Dubliner Magazine do a ‘Best of Dublin’ special every year. I came up with this idea to do a piece on the best places to be alone in the city centre. It’s apt that the majority of the places I picked are Catholic property.
Fitzwilliam Square Tennis Court.
This is where Dublin’s class restrictions rears its ugly, inbred head. Fitzwilliam Square is owned by Dublin City Council, meaning, and of course this is indirectly, you. But if you want access to the park and the lawn tennis courts you must be one of the few lucky residents with a key. On sunny days, however, you’ll see a few guilty-looking souls frolicking around in the almost-deserted park. Say hello and then say please, and if that doesn’t work call them a fascist. Either way, they should open the gate and let you in.
Nancy Hand’s Beer Garden.
It’s not often that Dublin puts you in a New York state of mind, but if you happen to be on Parkgate Street when the weather’s clement, and you skip outside onto the fire escape that doubles as a beer garden, you’re transported into Peter Parker’s Manhattan. Brownstone buildings, the kind of metal staircases favoured by bad guys and an impending sense that the city needs Spiderman fill your imagination as you sit in solitude – mostly – and savour a succulent pint or juicy fag.
Temple Street Prayer Booth
Dear St Anthony doesn’t get enough credit in popular Catholic sculpture. For one, he polls way below Francis and even Peter when it comes to the nation’s favourite saints. So, it’s good to know that he has his own private prayer booth with a convenient street entrance towards the front of the convent on Temple Street. It’s probably one of the most peculiar little places in the city. No bigger than a bedroom, elegantly minimal, and luminous in an angry red glow, the room is a lovely opportunity for you to spend some quality face time with St. Anto.
St. Kevin’s Graveyard
Behind Whelan’s there’s more to see than just pee patterns on the walls and country couples getting to gropes with each other. A few long strides from all the action is one of the least inhabited patches of green in Dublin. St. Kevin’s is a graveyard with ample seating for the not-yet dead. The church is over 800 years old, but news travels slow in these parts and that keeps it quiet. The building provides good cover from the street and the DIT students passing by wrestling chicken fillet rolls into their mouths.
St. Teresa’s Chapel
An upshot of the waning popularity of Catholicism is that many prominent buildings in Dublin now lay pretty much dormant. St. Teresa’s, next-door to the Westbury Mall, is a pretty chapel surrounded on all sides by shopping streets that go from busy to stampede as seasons alter. Step inside and it’s as dead as new rave. The seating is ample if not a little tough on the ass, but you’ll be guaranteed peace and quiet. Plus if you can remember the patter, and I think it goes something like, ‘Bless me father for I’ve done wrong,’ you can climb into the confession booth and take a load off.