Posted by: mdmusingsie | October 25, 2019

At the Casino

Time, having moved swiftly on, found me facing Culture Night – an event with too many possible, amazing, choices and far too little time.  Decisions, decisions, what do I do?  Naturally I headed for the Casino.  Casino Marino that is.

Although Dublin (and Ireland in general) has a fair number of small traditional gambling establishments by the same name, this particular venue didn’t have a single slot machine, poker table, or roulette wheel.

Casino is Italian for ‘small house’ and looking at the exterior, it does appear on the small side, however there are 16 rooms over three floors.  Built to look like a Greek temple, the building is completely symmetrical.

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Commissioned by James Caulfiled, 1st Earl of Charlemont around the late 1750’s the building wasn’t completed until around 1775.   It wasn’t just the lack of modern machinery that caused the project to take so long to complete.  It’s the detail in all the stone carvings and plaster ceilings that were the biggest contributing factor.

Lions guard the four corners of the stairways and four gods adorn the top – Bacchus, Ceres, Venus, and Apollo.

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Not only is there plenty to admire in the stone carvings and attention to detail, but there are lots of little architectural tricks employed in the building of this house.  For instance, four of the outer columns are actually hollow and serve as drain pipes for the roof terraces.  The urns at the top of the house disguise chimneys.  The glass windows make it appear as if there is only one room, however, each floor has several.

The entry or reception area has an intricately decorated plaster ceiling as well as a half-dome.  This leads to a great room for dining or entertaining.  The parquet floor boasts a large star of David in the centre. Flanking both sides are smaller chambers – to the left a library and to the right what could have been a bed chamber or study.

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The ceilings of all three rooms are full of plaster carvings.  The most interesting is in the library where a circular carving depicts the signs of the zodiac.  The bookshelf is built into the wall and has curved shelves.

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Entry to the side rooms is through ‘hidden’ doors, made to blend in with the wall when closed.

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From the entry, a switchback staircase leads to the upper floor, containing an ornate bedroom complete with sitting area separated from the sleeping chamber by Grecian columns.  Opposite the fireplace is what I called the walk-in closet, but other accounts label it a 3rd bedroom, possibly for servants.  Another smaller, plain bedroom is across the hall with its own hidden door in the wall that leads who knows where.  There is also another stairway leading up to a viewing platform on the roof.  We were only allowed to glimpse the stairway but could not ascend it.   Not a bathroom in sight, which for the time it was built is probably not that unusual.  There was another door on the upper floor that was closed to visitors which may have contained a water closet.  They probably relied more on bedpans.

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The lower floor, which can be glimpsed only from the outside, contained the kitchen and servants quarters.  Since the current remodeling has only recently been completed, that level is not accessible and probably contains construction materials.  Hopefully that level will be restored one day as well.

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Outer access to lower floor

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Lower floor access

Supposedly, the casino was linked to the main house, Marino house, by a tunnel, which has been blocked off due to all the construction in the area.

For a small house, it certainly packs a punch, which is exactly what Earl Caulfield intended when he had it built.


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