Located in the middle of Dublin’s most authentic and colourful shopping street is our own ‘secret garden’, the Meath Street Grotto. As a non-religious person, it’s unusual for me to visit local religious spots but I always make an exception for this gorgeous garden that anchors its surrounding area, The Liberties. The Grotto lies behind S. Catherine’s Church, and is surrounded by pubs, markets and street sellers but is a strangely quiet and serene part of this otherwise bustling street.
Although it is a religious place, it’s not too ‘in your face’ and is a lovely place to enjoy a rest or to admire the flowers. Inside there is a statue of Our Lady of Lourdes commemorating the Immaculate Conception, standing above a literal fountain of holy water and where a lot of people leave tributes to loved ones. There is a rock from Lourdes that you are encouraged to touch for a blessing and among its stoney façade is a place to light artificial candles and say prayers. The small grotto area with the ‘candles’ is looked over by a prayer to Our Lady and often has dozens of pictures of the recently deceased left by loving family who want to keep them in others thoughts and prayers.
This may be the epitome of ‘Old Ireland’ with our strict religious customs, but to me, visiting the grotto is a pleasure and it makes me feel like part of the community.