Is Dublin the most Christmassy city this side of the North Pole? The argument that it is can be backed up by some solid historical evidence. Certainly, few sights are more festive than those colorful Georgian doors when they are adorned with holiday wreaths of holly and ivy. And the twinkling lights of the decorations along the city’s main shopping streets would put some cheer in even the Grinchiest of hearts. But Dublin’s claim to the title of most Christmassy city goes deeper than just looking the part and offering plenty of great shopping.
Just off the beaten path of St. Francis Street, not far from Dublin Castle, is the church of St. Nicholas of Myrna. Yep, that is jolly old St. Nick himself. Even the image of him in the stained glass windows includes three golden bags in a clear reference to Santa Claus. It also includes an anchor because aside from his Christmas connection, St. Nicholas is also a patron saint of sailors. The present church was opened in 1834, but prior to that an older church made of timber stood in that spot from as early as the 12th century. It’s hard to beat that as an ancient link without going to Myrna, which lies in what is now Turkey.
But one church, no matter how historic, does not get a city recognized as one of the most Christmassy places on earth. Christmas music marks the start of the festive season on the radio and in the shopping malls. And although it was originally written for Easter, Handel’s Messiah has become synonymous with Christmas. This stirring piece of music was first performed in Dublin City, only a short distance from St. Nicholas of Myrna church at the Musick Hall on Fishamble Street on April 13th, 1742. Everyone knew it would be popular, so popular that women attending were asked not to wear large hoop skirts so that more people could fit in the hall. Approximately 700 people attended the performance, which was a pretty massive crowd centuries before stadium rock gigs and festivals. The Choir of Christ Church Cathedral, which is also near Fishamble Street, participated in the performance. The Musick Hall (yes, it was spelled that way) is long gone, but the Christ Church Cathedral Choir still performs the Hallelujah Chorus every Christmas. And anyone visiting Dublin at any time of year should see this beautiful church with its steeples topped with plain and Celtic crosses.
And how could Santa manage Christmas without his reindeer? Okay, those particular deer do not live in Dublin, but you can spot some of their cousins in the Phoenix Park. According to some, they have occasionally been seen flying very late on Friday and Saturday nights, especially during the festive season.
Dublin is a world class Christmas shopping spot with the most popular shopping streets decorated in true festive style and buskers on every corner adding to the cheer. But if you can’t get there, you can still get some gorgeous Irish jewelry online for your loved ones this year from Shanore. ‘Tis the season for a bit of green sparkle after all, no matter where you are.