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.
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…
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.
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.
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.
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.