This floating castle appears to be from an enchanted fable, but in actuality it is Europe's best preserved Renaissance water castle.
During the Easter Rising of 1916, Boland Mills was believed to have been the headquarters for the 3rd Battalion of the Irish Volunteers, led by the infamous Irish Republican leader Éamon De Valera. Comprised of two vast six-story warehouse buildings clad in stone, Boland Mills had the imposing exterior that lent it the appearance of a formidable stronghold.
Located on Dublin’s Grand Canal Dock, buildings at the Boland Mills site date back as early as the 1830s. In the decades before its involvement in the Rising, the Mills were used as flour mills (as noted by the preserved signage prominently painted on its exterior). Located in a key access point within the city, the Mills were a strategically convenient outpost for the 3rd Battalion as they laid out their defense against the British.
However, De Valera largely operated from a nearby Dispensary next to Boland’s Bakery that was part of a complex of low buildings with key proximity to both an embankment and a railway. It made for a much more discreet, unassuming location compared to the towering presence of the Mills. To distract the enemy, De Valera even raised a green flag with a gold harp, the emblem of an independent Irish state, at the Mills.
Boland’s Bakery has since been demolished, but the primary site of Boland’s Mills, along with its legacy, remain. Today, the Mills have been converted, and now stand among commercial high rises and high-end residential developments in what is now a district some refer to as “Silicon Docks,” named for Boland Quay’s renovation as a hub for high-tech companies. Such companies may not share the revolutionary spirit of the men who largely gave their lives while defending Dublin’s docks, but they are nevertheless playing a role in working toward a new Ireland.
Written By: Kelly Murray
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