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.
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The Kevin St Medley: 3. The Moravian Meeting House

John Cennick (National Portrait Gallery, London)

John Cennick (National Portrait Gallery, London)

John Cennick took a bit of convincing to come to Dublin. A group of Dublin Baptists who heard him speak in London were so moved by his preaching that they begged of him to visit Dublin. Cennick was initially reluctant, recounting that he had “entertained a strong prejudice against the whole Irish nation and people,” but eventually acquiesced. In between these decisions, he changed his own allegiances from the Methodists to the Moravians, an evangelical Christian church that had its roots in 15th century Bohemia (the conversion was a result of two weeks on rough seas which he took to be a sign).

In Ireland, his first engagement was in an old meeting house on Skinner’s Alley (now Newmarket St). He began to attract large crowds, although Providence could not help him escape the Dublin wit: his reference to “the Babe in swaddling clothes” earned him the title “Swaddling John” (Boyle, 2010).

This surge in activity of non-conformism in the early 17th century (Boyle mentions Arminians, Baptists, Bradilonians, Methodists, Muggletonians, Quakers, Socinians, Unitarians, but not, unfortunately, Movementarians) is captured on Rocque’s map of the city. Kenneth Ferguson, referred to here before, has done sterling detective work and identified no fewer than seventeen meeting houses on Rocque’s 1756 plan of the city. These include the house mentioned at Skinner’s Alley and that of interest here on Kevin St. Both of these, Ferguson notes with satisfaction, include the lettering ‘MH’ to indicate their status as Meeting Houses (Ferguson, 2005).

Rocque 1756 Great Boater Lane

Moravian Meeting House – the annotation MH is visible directly below the ‘R’ of Great Boater Lane

Undated sketch of Moravian Church from a booklet (reproduced in Ferguson, 2005)

Undated sketch and floor-plan of the Moravian House (reproduced in Ferguson, 2005)

The Moravian House on Kevin St was more correctly on what is now Bishop St, then called Great Boater Lane, accessed by a tiny alley just visible on the map. This house was built after the Moravians were ejected from Skinner’s Alley by the Methodists, and evidently they had enough of a demand to establish their own house. The original house is all but hidden from view; a recent new building on Bishop St means it is now only visible from a small pedestrian walkway between Bishop and Kevin Streets.

Moravian Meeting House, Kevin St

Moravian Meeting House, Kevin St

Clear for all to see though is the new frontage added onto Kevin Street in 1917. (2017 is going to be an important year on Kevin Street with the centenary of this building and the 50th anniversary of the College of Technology). A plain but pretty vestry is next door. Casey describes it as a two-storey block of offices and meeting room, the latter a barrel-vaulted the full width of the building (Casey, 2010). The façade is unusual, both for the building and the street (Casey describes it as oddly eclectic). The presence of the Moravians is marked by the symbol of the Lamb of God, and their crest Vicit Agnus Noster ~ Eum sequam which my Latin speaking friends tell me means “Our Lamb has conquered, let us follow Him.”

The building ceased to be used by the Moravians in 1959. It is now owned by a media company. Let us follow them.

The Lamb of God,

The Lamb of God, Bless the iPhone zoom.

Notes

  • Seán Boyle (2010) Swaddling John and the Great Awakening, History Ireland, 18(5), 18-21.
  • Christine Casey (2005) The Buildings of Dublin, Yale University Press.
  • 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.

Protestant Row

Protestant Row

The curiously named Protestant Row is a tiny little lane of Wexford St. What it lacks in stature, it makes up for in longevity—it is recorded on Rocque’s map of the city in 1757. It was shown but not named on the first Ordnance Survey map and its name was included on the later OSi 25″ map.

According to Kenneth Ferguson in his wonderful essay, the name of the street likely derives from the character of the district. Nearby there was a Morovian Church on Bishop St (which we shall return to when revisiting Kevin St), a Presbyterian hall on Wood Street, the Methodist house on Whitefriar Street and the Huguenots at Peter Street.

Protestant RowIn 1911, there were ten houses on the street, although six were listed as ruins. The four families that lived there made up a total of 22 residents, and there wasn’t a Protestant among them. Typical trades included Patrick Byrne, Hotel Porter (19), who lived in No. 1; John Keenan (3) in No 2, who was a Corporation Labourer; Thomas McKeever (33) in No.3 who was a Painter and Thomas Honer (58), an unemployed wine porter who lived in No. 6.

The Irish translation according to the street sign shown is the rather awkward-sounding Rae na bProtastúnach, although this may be recent. Writing in 1979, Kevin Brennan bemoaned the fact that

Protestant Row becomes Rae na Sasanagh, despite Wolfe Tone, Lord Edward, and others.

I wonder when the Irish Englishman’s Lane converted to Protestant Lane.

Notes

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.