A little Off

Off Lane, which appears on Rocque’s 1756 map was so named by Henry Moore, 3rd Viscount Moore, 1st Earl of Drogheda who came into possession of lands in this area around what is now the Spire on O’Connell St in 1661 following the Restoration of the Monarchy. Laying out the streets, Henry was clearly a man who wished to leave a legacy. He named some of his new streets Henry St, Moore St, Earl St (now North Earl St), Drogheda St, Mellefont Place (which was Tucker’s Row and became Cathedral St). A small lane, now called Henry Place, linking Moore St to Henry St was called Of or Off Lane. Clearly Henry had used every other combination of his titles, and was left with using the prepositions.

Rocque's Map of 1756 showing Moore's legacy: Moore St, Henry St, Off Lane, Drogheda St and Earl St are all visible.

Rocque’s Map of 1756 showing Henry Moore, Earl of Drogheda’s legacy:  Henry St, Moore St, Earl Street, Off Lane, and Drogheda St

This entire development was laid out before 1728 on what was called Ash Park by the monks of St Mary’s Abbey, where the Earl of Drogheda had taken the Abbot’s House as his city residence. After laying out his new streets, the Earl built Drogheda House, a mansion situated between Earl St and the next street north, now called Cathedral St. The Earl, clearly not wanting to waste an opportunity, called this street Mellefont Place (he was also Baron Moore of Mellefont). A fountain was situated at the front of the house, “pouring water into Drogheda St”. Drogheda St, linking Sackville St (northern end) to the river was by then only a narrow lane, and indeed on Rocque’s map, did not continue to the river.

Sackville St and Gardiner's Mall, c. 1760, by Oliver Grace

Sackville St and Gardiner’s Mall, c. 1760, by Oliver Grace

Wide Street Commissioners Map of planned alterations to Sackville St - compare the width of Sackville and Drogheda Streets. (Dublin City Library - click image to go to source)

Wide Street Commissioners Map of planned alterations to Sackville St – compare the width of Sackville and Drogheda Streets. (Dublin City Library – click image to go to source)

An important map in the Dublin City Library Wide Street Commission archives is shown, outlining the commission’s plans to extend and widen the thoroughfare from the end of Drogheda St through the connection with Abbey St and onto the river. Just 30 years earlier, this was a haphazard cluster of houses. Having widened the section from the river to Abbey St, and the previous widening in 1749 of what became Sackville St, Drogheda’s days were numbered, and the entire length was widened in the 1790s, becoming Sackville St (after a brief time as New Sackville St). This was achieved by Luke Gardiner, later 1st Viscount Mountjoy.

The change from Drogheda to Sackville reflects also the earlier changing land ownership. Drogheda’s reign came to an end following the death of the Earl. The lands passed through the hands of Sir Humphrey Jervis, who sold them to Luke Gardiner around 1714. It was he who laid out Gardiner’s Mall, and the northern stretch of Sackville St; the name coming from Lionel Cranfield Sackville, 1st Duke of Dorset, who was viceroy for the periods 1731-37 and 1751-6.  Gardiner also called his younger son Sackville, so we can assume the families were friendly. As mentioned we had to wait until his grandson Luke continued the street to the river later that century, and Drogheda St disappeared from the map.

Sackville St eventually became O’Connell St, although not as soon as planned. Dublin Corporation, in a rash of apparent nationalism in 1884 (see John Dillon St) opted to rename the street after the Liberator, but was prevented by a court injunction taken by the street’s residents, clearly more loyal to their peers. It wasn’t until independence that O’Connell finally superseded the Viscount and the Earl that preceded him.

Sackville St in the early 19th century (Original image from National Library of Ireland - click to go to source)

Sackville St in the early 19th century (Original image from National Library of Ireland – click to go to source)

Notes

  • Christine Casey (2005) The Buildings of Dublin, Yale University Press.
  • Mrs. James F. Daly (1957) O’Connell Bridge and Its Environs, Dublin Historical Record, 14(3), 85-93.
  • Seamus Scully (1972) Ghosts of Moore Street, Dublin Historical Record, 25(2), 54-63.
  • Maura Shaffrey (1988) Sackville Street/O’Connell Street, Irish Arts Review, 144-149.
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Reginald Street, The Coombe

The very pretty Reginald Street and Gray Street and their associated squares were built in 1880-1882 by the Dublin Artisan’s Dwelling Co. The company was established in 1876 and was chaired by one of the great Victorian philanthropists, Sir Edward Cecil Guinness. It went on to build over 3,600 dwellings around Dublin, which were intended to house the working class of Dublin. Initially, rental costs meant that they were only feasible for skilled labourers, although a (cursory) analysis of the 1911 Census shows that the majority employer of the residents was the brewing industry, so Guinness’ plan to house his workers appears to have worked out well.

Reginald Street

Reginald Street

The small squares off the Reginald Street/Gray Street result in the whole forming a cruciform pattern. Houses in these squares are single storey and likely followed the typical three room plan; front door into the living room with a contained scullery leading out into the rear yard, and two bedrooms off to the side. Despite being a couple of minutes from a very busy Meath Street, the whole area exudes calm.

The Sacred Heart Statue at Reginald and Gray St was a fountain

The Sacred Heart Statue at Reginald and Gray St was a fountain. The plaque reads: “Erected by the Parishioners of St Catherine’s to honour the glory of God and in commemoration of the centenary of the Emancipation 1929

The street names give plenty of notice that this was the Earl of Meath’s Liberty. Reginald Brabazon was the 12th Earl of Meath when the complex was built. No matter how much the romantic in me wishes that Reginald married a Gray, the street he intersects, this is not the case, and Gray Street is more likely to be named after Sir John Gray, the man responsible for bringing clean water supply to Dublin from the Vartry reservoir in the Wicklow mountains. Rather appropriately, the intersection of Reginald and Gray featured a fountain. This was replaced with a statue of the Sacred Heart in 1929, ostensibly to commemorate the centenary of Emancipation, although it can’t just be a coincidence that this is also the year of the death of Reginald, an arch-Unionist and Imperialist. Divine intervention couldn’t save the statue from collision with a lorry, and the current version was that restored to mark the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1975. More on the statue and the pope’s visit, including some attractive photos, are on the Built Dublin Site.

Reginald has the last laugh though. The eponymous street ends in Meath Terrace, and he is also remembered in three of the four squares in the complex: Brabazon Square, Reginald Square and Meath Square. For good measure, the eastern edge is flanked by Meath Street, and Earl Street is nearby. Vota vita mea

Brabazon Square

Notes

Christine Casey has more details on the Artisan’s Dwelling Co, including some sketches of typical houses and a floor plan of a bungalow, described above. Casey, C (2005) The Buildings of Dublin, Yale University Press