Iveagh Market Buildings

Nearly one hundred and nine years ago, Colonel George W. Addison R. E. represented the Iveagh Trust at a ceremony to formally hand over the new Iveagh Markets to Dublin Corporation. Giving his thanks on receiving the deeds of conveyance and keys, the Lord Mayor expressed the hope that the city would continue to benefit from Viscount Iveagh’s munificence, and that he would be spared to continue his noble works.

Iveagh Markets (from the Dublin City Library image collection - click to go to source)

Iveagh Markets (from the Dublin City Library image collection – click to go to source)

This exchange is captured in an Irish Times article in June 1906 which thankfully recorded the ceremony and some detail about the markets; for there is surprisingly little source material elsewhere. The markets themselves came about after clearances around St Patrick’s Cathedral to remove some of the slums there as part of the Iveagh Trust building development. There was a need for a new space for market traders, a need apparently noticed by Iveagh himself:

The state of affairs did not pass unnoticed by Lord Iveagh… and frequently visiting the neighbourhood, was often an observer of the unfortunate conditions under which the street merchants carried on their business; he, therefore, conceived the idea of providing suitable covered accommodation…

OS 25" map showing Iveagh Market (OSi)

OS 25″ map showing Iveagh Markets (OSi)

The location of the markets is just off Francis St, and they are shown clearly on the Ordnance Survey 25″ map. A new road on the north-eastern side of the markets was built—linking John Dillon St to Lamb Alley (the diagonal running left-right across the map shown). Eagle-eyed among you will notice that this new street terminates just before it reaches High St at Cornmarket, and in his address to Addison, the Lord Mayor noted that it would be a great advantage to the scheme if this cul de sac at Lamb Alley could be opened to Cornmarket. As this is now the case, we can assume that Iveagh agreed. The markets were built on the site of Sweetman’s brewery; the site had previously been purchased by Guinness as part of their ever-growing domination of the brewery industry. Sweetman’s don’t appear to have had much luck in situating their brewery; they were previously moved by the Wide Street Commissioners to this location. As well as Sweetman’s, the construction involved the demolition of some houses on Francis St to open up Dean Swift Square.

Entrance to Iveagh Markets

Entrance to Iveagh Markets

Keystone representing Ireland (Hibernia) (from about.com)

Keystone representing Ireland (Hibernia) (from about.com)

The building housed two markets: a market for the sale of old clothes (100 by 150 ft), accessed from Francis St, and a market for the sale of fish, fruit, and vegetables (130 by 80 ft), accessed from John Dillon St. The markets were fitted up with stalls, and the fish stalls were of white glazed earthenware, the first of the kind to be adopted. The building itself was designed by Frederick Hicks, of 86 Merrion Square. It is constructed with Portmarnock red brick and Newry granite, with door and window dressings of Portland stone.A distinctive feature is the keystones, carved with heads representing nations of the world. The centre keystone represents Ireland, with others representing Eastern Turkey, Europe, Asia, Africa, Americas, and for some reason Spain and Israel get their own.

Washhouse on Lamb Alley (Photo: B)

Washhouse on Lamb Alley (Photo: B)

The Act of Parliament which moved the traders away from St Patrick’s Park also included a clause that all clothing for sale was to be disinfected.It is just possible to discern a Public Washhouse and Disinfecting Dept just north of the markets on the map shown above. The washhouse was fitted out with the latest laundry fittings and machinery, with accommodation for 40 washers. In addition, there were four centrifugal wringing machines and 40 hot air drying horses, an iron and mangling room, and if there was time to sit down while doing all this work, a waiting room. The disinfecting department was equipped with three high pressure steam disinfectors and two formaline chambers for clothing not able to take steam treatment.

The management of the entire facility was to be taken on by the Corporation. The Irish Times stated that:

though a further responsibility is thrown on the shoulders of the city fathers, still, everyone will admit it is a worthy one.

Indeed.

Notes

The full Irish Times article is: “The Iveagh Market Buildings” Irish Times, Thursday, July 26, 1906, page 11. The always excellent Dictionary of Irish Architects gives some references to Irish Builder articles on the markets which can be viewed in the National Library.

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Was Plunket St now John Dillon St

The pretty network of little streets between Francis St and Patrick St arose out of significant chaos. The most substantial of these is John Dillon St, which runs along the east of St Nicholas’ to the Iveagh Markets. A description of the area in the late 18th century by Rev. James Whitelaw, vicar of St. Catherine’s on Thomas Street, reported that on approaching the Liberties from the east of the city, a “general declension in both streets and houses was perceptible”. Houses were crowded together, and while some were the residences of shop-keepers, most were “occupied by working manufacturers, by petty shop keepers, the labouring poor, and beggars, crowded together, to a degree distressing to humanity”.

From a map of Dublin 1798, showing area Thomas St to St Patricks Cathedral

From a map of Dublin 1798, showing area Thomas St to St Patrick’s Cathedral. Plunket St is located in the centre of the extract.

The extent of this over-crowding was recorded on Plunket St in 1798. Plunket St consisted of what is now John Dillon St, Dillon Place, and probably Thomas Davis St South, or some parallel street. The 1798 survey reported that the 32 houses there contained 917 inhabitants, an average of nearly 29 people per house (the typical occupation across the Liberty was 12 – 16). Some of the shops on the street in the mid-eighteenth century have been recorded in the account books of “a Dublin Lady” (Mrs Katherine Bayly). These included The Churn, where she bought bacon, The Parrot, which supplied coffee and cocoa, and Adam and Eve, where the nature of business is not identified – perhaps an inn or tavern of some sort.

Plunket St, running from Francis St on the left (west) to Patrick St on the right. The Meeting House is marked P. M. H.

Plunket St, running from Francis St on the left (west) to Patrick St on the right. The Meeting House is marked P. M. H.

Plunket St had a Meeting House, clearly marked on Rocque’s map of 1756. Kenneth Ferguson—really I owe the man royalties at this stage—reprints an extract from a contemporary account that says the church was

for several years in a very low state, that the sentiments and preachings of the ministers who officiated were extremely unpopular and but ill adapted to preserve the church from a languishing condition.

Grappling with such problems, the church closed soon after, and the building was acquired by Lady Huntingdon, who financed the repair and reopened the church in 1773. In 1797, William Cooper came to Dublin and became connected with the church. It subsequently became known as Cooper’s Tabernacle and enjoyed the patronage of the La Touches and Town Major Henry Charles Sirr, who presented Cooper with a silver cup for use at the Tabernacle.

John Dillon St (Photo: Monosnaps on Flickr)

John Dillon St (Photo: Monosnaps on Flickr) https://www.flickr.com/photos/dubpics/

By the 1880s, this part of Dublin joined others in being redeveloped by the Dublin Artisan’s Dwelling Company (see article on Reginald St). The Meeting House had closed in 1882, and by 1885, the area was cleared and redeveloped, giving us the pretty cottages that are there today.

The area was further developed in 1906 with the construction of the Iveagh Markets. This covered market was built by the Iveagh Trust to replace a market area removed on the construction of the park beside St. Patrick’s Cathedral. The building includes the use of the distinctive Portmarnock red brick.

Sketch from Illustrated London News, 1881, of Home Rule Party, showing Dillon, Parnell and others (click to go to source: Dublin City Library and Archive)

Sketch from Illustrated London News, 1881, of Home Rule Party, showing Dillon, Parnell and others (click to go to source: Dublin City Library and Archive)

These clearances meant that the name of the street also changed, and it is surprising (to me) that the new name took that of John Dillon MP (see correction below*). We are of course used to the large number of changes to street names that followed independence (see article on Hogan Place), but Dillon, an Irish nationalist and advocate of Home Rule appears to have been a much earlier example. Perhaps this, and his long life meant that he may have missed out on getting his name on one of the grander streets of Dublin, which his role in Irish history surely justifies. Nevertheless, this is a pretty little street, and more unusual in that it includes the full name of the man it is dedicated to.

*Correction: Having since read Seamus Conboy’s article (“Changing Dublin Street Names, 1880’s to 1940’s” in Dublin Historical Record, 2011, Vol. 64(2), 205-225) it appears that John Dillon St was named after Dillon’s father, John Blake Dillon, a Young Irelander in 1886. The point about surprise at being named after a nationalist at this time still stands!

Notes

  • The current status of the Iveagh Markets was covered in a recent Irish Times Buildings at Risk article.
  • H. F. Berry (1898) Notes from the Diary of a Dublin Lady in the Reign of George II. The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 8(2), 141-154.
  • Kenneth Ferguson (2005) Rocque’s Map and the History of Nonconformity in Dublin: A search for meeting houses, Dublin Historical Record, 58(2), 129-165.
  • Donal T. Flood (1974) The Decay of Georgian Dublin, Dublin Historical Record, 27(3), 78-100.
  • Joseph W. Hammond (1941) Town Major Henry Charles Sirr, Dublin Historical Record, 4(2), 58-75.