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Double Take: The easy-to-miss plaques that tell a famous Irish tale

Have you spotted them?

Image: TheJournal.ie

ON THE SIDE of a housing development at the corner of Bride Street and Golden Lane, Dublin 8, are eight terracotta plaques.

In line with the second floor of the red-brick building, the plaques are easy to miss unless you’re actively looking for them.

Should you throw an eye upon them, however, passers-by will realise that each plaque depicts a scene from Gulliver’s Travels.

The artwork tells the story of Jonathan Swift’s first part of the tale, A Voyage to Lilliput, and was created by Irish sculptor Michael C Keane.

IMG_3441 (1) Source: TheJournal.ie

Each piece was made from a solid disc of clay, Keane’s website explains, and built on a specially constructed easel. From there, the scene itself was carved into the disc before it was cut into sections, hollowed out and dried for two weeks. 

It was then fired in a kiln, coloured and sealed to be made weather-proof. To finish, the border was placed around the disc before it was fitted into a brick circle and the two pieces were cemented together. 

IMG_3443 (1) Source: TheJournal.ie

Among the scenes of the 1726 fable, the plaques show Gulliver being held prisoner, as well as him later earning the trust of the people of Lilliput.

The placement of the plaques is no coincidence – Swift himself was Dean of nearby St Patrick’s Cathedral, where the Jonathan Swift Festival is held annually, from 1713 until 1739.

IMG_3444 (1) Source: TheJournal.ie

After suffering from Meniere’s Disease in his later years, Swift died on October 19, 1745 and was buried on the grounds of the cathedral.

The plaque marking his grave reads: “Here lies the body of Jonathan Swift, Doctor of Divinity and Dean of this Cathedral, where savage indignation can no longer lacerate his heart; go traveller and imitate if you can, this dedicated and earnest champion of liberty.”

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