Nighttown: Dublin’s Monto

The Mabbot street entrance of nighttown, before which stretches an uncobbled transiding set with skeleton tracks, red and green will-o’-the-wisps and danger signals. Rows of flimsy houses with gaping doors.

Ulysses, James Joyce

Entry under occupation for Maud Hamilton, 1911 Census (National Archives of Ireland)

Entry under occupation for Maud Hamilton, 1911 Census (National Archives of Ireland)

In the 1911 Census, the occupation of two Dublin women is entered as prostitute. One was Maggie Boylan living as a boarder on Faithful Place, the other—whose original entry of “unfortunate” was amended by a clerk—was Maud Hamilton on Elliott Place. Both Faithful Place and Elliott Place were off Purdon St, now completely disappeared. At the time of the Census, it was a street running parallel to, and north of, Foley St.

Purdon St with Elliot Place and Faithful Place highlighted (OSi)

Purdon St with Elliot Place and Faithful Place highlighted (OSi)

Foley St was called Montgomery St, and this gave the name to the small area just west of Connolly Station that was once one of Europe’s largest red-light districts: the Monto. The Monto came to prominence in the late nineteenth century, and lasted well into the twentieth century, until the new State, prompted by the Legion of Mary, effectively shut it down.

There is no specific boundary for the Monto, but it is considered to be within the boundaries of Gardiner St (to the left/west), Talbot St (to the south), Amiens St (to the east) and Gloucester St to the north.

There is no specific boundary for the Monto, but it is considered to be within the boundaries of Gardiner St (to the left/west), Talbot St (to the south), Amiens St (to the east) and Gloucester St to the north. This map ca. 1840 shows many street names before they were changed. The red cross marks Montgomery St.

Oddly, my awareness of the Monto came about through a gift of the book Science and Technology in Nineteenth Century Ireland, which contains an essay by Tadhg O’Keeffe and Patrick Ryan. They write that there is little surviving of the Monto today, with streets, houses, and street names cleared away. They have used the Ordnance Survey maps of the city to trace the growth and decline of prostitution in this small area.

Why did the Monto come about? Early nineteenth century records suggest that prostitution was more prevalent on the south side of the city; with one of the city’s better known Madames, Margaret Leeson, setting up shop in Pitt St, now Balfe St, site of the Westbury Hotel (and the subject of this blog’s first post). In a second essay, O’Keeffe and Ryan propose three reasons why this small part of the north inner city became one of Europe’s most notorious red-light districts. Firstly, the area was far enough from respectable eyes to enable the containment of prostitution away from upper and middle-class residential districts. From the 1870s, there was no shortage of powers  available to the police to shut down brothels and arrest their occupants. But they were not used, and the area was openly acknowledged to have ‘open houses’ in a publication of high repute as Encyclopaedia Britannica. Ths is not to say arrests didn’t take place. Luddy reports the Dublin Metropolitan Police records: 2,849 arrests in 1838, 4,784 in 1856; and running at about 1,000 per year from the 1870s. A low of 494 was recorded in 1899.

Secondly, the area was a slum, meaning rents were low. And thirdly, and most likely crucially, the area was perfectly positioned next to Amiens St station, Dublin port, and Aldborough House. Amiens St likely provided plenty of young women from the country looking for work. The port and Aldborough house—converted from a school to a military barracks during the period of the Crimean war—provided plenty of clientèle along with the demand of locals.

Elliot Place, 1930s, from the Frank Murphy Collection (Old Dublin Society). Reporduced in Luddy and O'Keeffe and Ryan.

Elliot Place, 1930s, from the Frank Murphy Collection (Old Dublin Society). Reporduced in Luddy and O’Keeffe and Ryan.

Keeping track of street names in the area is no mean feat. Looking at Rocque’s map from 1756, the area is mostly undeveloped. The extract from Rocque shows Mabbot St running roughly N-S, with “Worlds End Lane” running east-west along what became Montgomery St. O’Keeffe and Ryan suggest that this name indicates that even then, the area “had a long-standing reputation for the darker side of life.”

Rocque's Map, 1756, showing Worlds End Lane, which would become Montgomery St

Rocque’s Map, 1756, showing Worlds End Lane and Great Martin’s Lane, which would become Montgomery St and Mecklinburgh St.

As the area began to be laid out in the mid-Georgian era, Great Martin’s Lane became Mecklinburgh St in 1765. Princess Charlotte of Mecklenburgh had married George III a few years earlier. This street ran through and beyond the Monto’s (loose) boundaries. Residents on the Upper part of the street, describing themselves as “respectable working classes”, lobbied to have the name changed so as to lose the association with the area, and this part of the street became Tyrone St in 1886. But just two years later, the residents in the Lower part had their street name changed to Lower Tyrone St. A medical student walking down Tyrone St in 1904 observed that “in no other European capital have I seen its equal. It was a street of Georgian houses and each one was a brothel”. The Upper and Lower Tyrone streets subsequently became Waterford St and Railway St in 1911, the latter name survives today.  Montgomery St had substantial slum clearances in 1905 and the street’s name was changed to Foley St, albeit with the same reputation. Mabbot St—immortalised by Joyce as the entrance to “Nighttown”—is now called James Joyce St. Are you keeping up?

The “other-worldliness” of the Monto, captured by Joyce in his expression of Nighttown is elaborated on by O’Keeffe and Ryan. This area of the city was the inverse of its surroundings; coming to life when Dublin slept, being run by women rather than men; public expressions in the most intimate of places.

Magdalen asylum in the Monto (OSi)

Magdalen asylum in the Monto (OSi)

While the growth of the Monto may have been due to the turning of the cheek by the law, religious groups were not so unobservant. The all-male and Protestant White Cross Vigilance Association organised patrols from 1885, keeping watch outside “evil houses”. Bizarrely, the neighbours of brothel owners and prostitutes in the Monto were the nuns: the Sisters of Charity, who took over the Magdalen Asylum established on Mecklinburgh St in 1822.But it was the Association of Our Lady of Mercy (Legion of Mary), founded by Frank Duff in 1921 which had the greatest impact on shutting down prostitution in the Monto. Their actions included the persuading of women to leave brothels and take up paid employment elsewhere. The new State’s police force could no longer turn a blind eye and in the Spring of 1925, a large raid resulted in significant numbers of arrests. While this did not shut it down completely, activity petered out over the following years. Street clearances and renamings means that there are no physical marks on the landscape recording this district’s history; the only thing that remains is a white tiled cross on the back of a Magdalen building awaiting demolition and reconstruction.

White tile cross over a gateway on the back of the former Magdalen Laundry on Railway St (Google, 2014)

White tile cross over a gateway on the back of the former Magdalen Laundry on Railway St (Google, 2014)

Notes

This lapse in abstinence of blog posting is a form of birthday present to a friend and supporter of the blog: Happy Birthday! 🙂

Updates, as they may come in the future, can be sent to your email address by subscribing below. 

  • Tadhg O’Keeffe and Patrick Ryan (2009) At the World’s End: The Lost Landscape of Monto, Dublin’s Notorious Red-light District, Landscapes, I, 21-38.
  • Tadhg O’Keeffe and Patrick Ryan (2011) Representing the imagination: a topographical history of Dublin’s Monto from Ordnance Survey maps and related materials, in Science and Technology in Nineteenth Century Ireland, Julia Adelman and Éadaoin Agnew (eds), Four Courts Press: Dublin.
  • Maria Luddy (2007) Prostitution and Irish Society: 1800-1940, Cambridge University Press: Cambridge.

In the fields off James’ St

Grand Canal Place
at the second hour.
Live lights on oiled water
in the terminus harbor.

Thomas Kinsella, St Catherine’s Clock

Walking around between the Guinness Storehouse and St James’ Hospital, there are some aqueously named streets: Grand Canal Place, Basin View, Basin Lane Upper. Water, water, everywhere. But neither eyes nor satellite show any sight of a drop.

Rocque to the rescue, as always. Tucked away in the south-western corner of his 1756 plan of the city is “City Bason”. The Bason, or Basin was a reservoir supplying this area of the city-especially the ever growing number of breweries and distilleries-with water. It was also a place for local residents to escape the confines of the city’s streets.

Rocque's map of the city - the "city bason" is just on the southern edge of the extract shown.

Rocque’s map of the city – the “city bason” is just on the southern edge of the extract shown.

With the aid of your monocle, it can be seen that a tree-lined walkway is shown around the basin, and the area was popular as a promenade, so much so that it had already been included as a panel of interest in Brooking’s map of 1728. In addition, it was a venue for musical performances. A concert in aid of the Meath Hospital advertised for August 1756, the date of Rocque’s map, promised a performance of Ellen-a-Roon by Mr Pockrich, playing musical glasses:

Mr. Pockrich hath, (in consideration of so useful a Charity) condescended to exhibit a NEW and CURIOUS Musical Instrument, invented by him very lately, the Effects of which it is impossible to describe, as being entirely different from all either Wind or String Instruments …

It would appear on this particular occasion, that Mr Pockrich’s performance didn’t go well. A subsequent apology appeared from the man himself in the following week’s newspaper: the cause of disappointment was his adding a Glass too much to his instrument. 

Ordnance Survey of Ireland map of area south of James' St. (Map: OSi)

Ordnance Survey of Ireland map of area south of James’ St. (Map: OSi)

We digress. The City Basin, Frank Cullen tells us in his fantastic new book was built in 1724, and indeed by the date of the Ordnance Survey map over a century later, the tree lined promenade was still present. A guide to the city in 1835 reported that:

The City Bason is the pleasantest, most elegant and sequestered place of relaxation the citizens can boast of; the reservoir, which in part supplies the city with water, is mounded and terraced all round, and planted with quickset hedges, limes and elms, having beautiful green walks between, in a situation which commands a most satisfactory prospect of a vast extent of fine country to the south. The entrance is elegant, by a lofty iron gate, and the water that supplies it, is conveyed from the neighbouring mountains.

The basin is important for the next part of the story. Its location probably directed the choice of the end of the Grand Canal adjacent to it, completed in 1785. The Canal would serve to keep water flowing to the basin, and hence to the city. (It wasn’t until 1790 that the canal was extended along the South Circular Road to the Liffey.)

Thus the terminus in the quote from Kinsella above makes sense. Quite an extensive harbour and dry docks are visible in the Ordnance Survey map, and the whole complex meant that this became an important link between Dublin, especially the Liberties and surrounding area, and the rest of the country via the canal. It’s probably no coincidence that the street running east from the harbour, that which now runs along by the entrance of the Guinness Storehouse, is called Market St. Gloriously, a sketch of the area published in the Illustrated London News and reproduced by Cullen gives us a picture of the locality in 1846.

City Basin and Grand Canal Harbour, Illustrated London News, 1846, reproduced in Cullen (2015)

City Basin and Grand Canal Harbour, Illustrated London News, 1846, and reproduced in Cullen (2015). The South Dublin Union Workhouse is visible to the west.

At this time, the area east of the Basin and south of James’ St had not been assimilated into the Guinness empire and one can see (pass the monocle again dear) on both the map and the etching that the area is primarily residential. In this final part, we’ll consider two developments that emerged in the nineteenth century.

Rocque's 1757 map showing what became known as "Old James's Gate Chapel" on the corner of Watling St, erected 1749.

Rocque’s 1757 map showing what became known as “Old James’s Gate Chapel” (marked with a cross) on the corner of Watling St, erected 1749.

The first is Echlin St, dominated on the east by St James’ Church. This is the third incarnation of the church; a Chapel of St James was erected by Canon Matthew Kelly in what was known as Jennet’s Yard. This lasted until 1749, when Richard Fitzsimons PP built a church on the corner of Watling St. (Rocque kindly marks a building with a cross at this location.) In August 1852 the present St James’ Church was opened by Dr, later Cardinal Paul. A notice outside the church says that Daniel O’Connell laid the foundation stone. Echlin St links James St with Grand Canal Place. Previously named Echlin Lane, it sourced its title from Rev Henry Echlin, who was the vicar of St James until his death in 1752.

St James' Church from Grand Canal Place

St James’ Church from Grand Canal Place

Secondly, the large curved building wrapped around Grand Canal Place is not present on the maps or views of the 1840s. This building, which Cullen describes as warehouses and Casey describes as experimental maltings were built by Guinness in 1863; in either case a convenient location on the water’s edge for distribution nationwide.  Facing inwards towards the canal, which like the basin beside it is now filled in, it is the last remnant of the enormous water complex that supported this industrial quarter of the city. One can contemplate Kinsella’s Live lights on oiled water in the Harbour Bar pub just across the road.

At Grand Canal Place

At Grand Canal Place. The Harbour Bar is the white building to the right.

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Notes

  • There is a photo essay of this area on the Irish Waterways History website.
  • Brian Boydell (1991) Mr. Pockrich and the Musical Glasses, Dublin Historical Record, 44(2), 25-33.
  • Christine Casey (2005) The Buildings of Dublin, Yale University Press.
  • Frank Cullen (2015) Dublin 1847: City of the Ordnance Survey, RIA (Dublin).
  • Desmond F. Moore (1960) The Guinness Saga, Dublin Historical Record, 16(2), 50-57.

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.

The Kevin St. Medley: 5. The Choir School

Founded in 1432, St. Patrick’s Cathedral Choir School is the oldest existing school in Ireland. While the Cathedral’s grammar school is likely to be older, it is in its recent form dated to a mere 1547. The choir school was founded when Richard Talbot was Archbishop of Dublin (1418-1449), owing to the need for a steady supply of young choristers for the cathedral. Six minor canons and six choristers were part of the new “college” and the six boys would have been charged with singing the plainsong of the daily Lady mass. Minor canons received 10 marks and choristers 4 marks per annum for their efforts.

St Patrick's Close on the OSi 25" map - "Sch" marks the location of the School

St Patrick’s Close on the OSi 25″ map – “Sch.” marks the location of the School (under the C of Cathedral)

The original location of the school was probably to the west of the present Deanery. In 1546, it was described as having a hall, kitchen, and sixteen bed-chambers. During the Reformation, Edward VI closed the choral school and converted it to a grammar school. However by 1615, the choir school was restored. While writing about all of this in 1820, William Monck Mason says that the ruins of the ancient school were still visible at that time. Glory be to Monck Mason, who provides us with a contemporary map showing the arrangement in the early nineteenth century. The Vicar’s Choral Ground is visible bordering Kevin St.

Plan of the Cathedral from The History and Antiquities of the Collegiate and Cathedral Church of St Patrick. William Monck Mason, Dublin 1819 (From Dublin City Library Collection - click to go to source)

Plan of the Cathedral from The History and Antiquities of the Collegiate and Cathedral Church of St Patrick. William Monck Mason, Dublin 1819 (From Dublin City Library Collection – click to go to source)

West Front of St. Patrick's Cathedral, James Malton, 1793 (NLI - Click image to go to source)

West Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral, James Malton, 1793 (NLI – Click image to go to source)

The choir school likely had a close connection with Christ Church Cathedral as well at various points in its history. It is noted that following the Restoration of the Monarchy in 1660 (the interregnum being the second of two times the school closed in its history) Richard Hosier held the position of “master of the song and tutor of the boys” at both institutions. Hosier’s successor Nicholas Sanderson got into trouble for his teaching methods. He was admonished for teaching the boys to “sing not by art but by rote” (Boydell).

Arrangements for those attending the “song school” were quite formal. Choristers were apprenticed to a master of song, who trained them and housed them with his family. In return he received allowance for laundry and haircuts! In more recent centuries, choristers also attended the Grammar School. The report on endowed schools in 1856—not one to hold back criticism— stated that “this is a good school”.

39 Kevin St., formerly the Cathrdral Choir School

39 Kevin St., formerly the Cathedral Choir School (Photo: B)

After the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1869, the cathedral was no longer required to support the school. Support up to this point involved master’s salary, accommodation, etc. In the nineteenth century, it was more common to use schoolmasters who ran schools in the locality, as the accommodation had deteriorated so much that it would have been difficult to attract a resident master; the salary not being the most generous. While there was no onus to support a school, there was a need for choristers, and the Dean (Dean West)  built a new Choir School at 39 Kevin St in 1870. We can see from Monck Mason’s map above that this building was built on a plot marked as “Dean’s Ground”. Originally an alley ran along the west; noted as Mitre Alley on Monck Mason’s map (and indeed as Myter Alley on Rocque’s 1756 map), but later named Chapter Close by OSi. An alley of sorts still exists—it is now part of the school yard with the gateway to the left of the house shown terminating the south end.

For reasons unknown, the building remained as a school for just a decade, when it became a master’s private house. The Choir School moved into the Deanery school on St Patrick’s Close, likely that one marked on the map above. There was some additional accommodation for choir practice in a room on Patrick’s St. An assessment of the school in 1909 remarked:

“The singing of this choir is admirable in every respect, and is marked by refinement and finish”.

School Doorway (Photo: B)

School Doorway (Photo: B)

Unfortunately the report for the standards in other subjects were not as ebullient. The school buildings were in a poor state and decayed over the course of the twentieth century. The choir school became part of the National School system in 1974, and in 1981, a new building with musical facilities were completed. Later the Grammar School also acquired new buildings, opened by Charles Haughey in 1988. These brick buildings bookend a handsome, much older, building, with a fairy-tale blue door. Behind it, is nearly six centuries of history.

More posts on Kevin St are listed in the Table of Contents. You can receive email updates when a new post is published by subscribing below.

Notes:

  • Barra Boydell (2004) A History of Music at Christ Church Cathedral, Dublin, Boydell Press.
  • Rex Cathcart (1994) In the Shadow of St. Patrick’s, Dublin Historical Record, 47(1), 71-76.

A house on Cork Hill

It’s easy to miss Cork Hill, a short street connecting Lord Edward Street and Dame St at City Hall. I measure its length at 35 paces, and although I am tall, I reckon it must be one of the shortest streets in Dublin. Cartophiles will correctly argue that it is a little longer, as the hill officially includes the plaza to the right of City Hall, connecting Castle St. Whatever its length, this short dog-leg joining Lord Edward, Dame, Castle, and Parliament streets is packed full of history; no surprise given its location adjacent to the Castle. As Maurice Craig puts it, it was very much at the centre of things.

The street itself takes its name from the Earl of Cork, after he built Cork House there in the early 1600s on the site of the present City Hall. Cork House was itself located on the site of the church St Mary del Dam, from which we get the name of Dame St.  Also known as the Great Earl, Richard Boyle was a self-made man who took advantage of the plantation of Munster to make his fortune. Having secured the favour of Elizabeth I, he collected political titles, becoming Privy Councillor for Ireland in 1612, and Member of Parliament for Lismore in 1614. The Irish Parliament was held in Dublin Castle at the time.

The area around Cork Hill as captured by Rocque on his map of 1757.

The area around Cork Hill as captured by Rocque on his map of 1757.

Tempting as this short commute might have been, it doesn’t appear that Boyle lived in Cork House. The building was occupied by the Royal Exchange until 1683, when that operation moved to the Tholsel nearby (just visible on Rocque’s map, above). It subsequently became home to a variety of traders; most notably printers and coffee houses. Lucas’s Coffee House, one of the most fashionable places to loiter in the city, was one of the last occupiers.

Fashion could not save the house or the area from the Wide Street Commissioners. Cork House was demolished in 1768 in a grand plan to widen Parliament St. Parliament St—which doesn’t exist on Rocque’s map—was to be the new grand wide and convenient street linking City Hall to the planned construction of Essex Bridge. Walking from the right on Rocque’s map shown, we can see Cork Hill following on from Dame St, but neither Parliament nor Lord Edward St are extant; Castle St is the main thoroughfare. The entire area was a bit chaotic.  The narrow network of streets meant that maintaining law and order was difficult. At Cork Hill, a contemporary account recorded that:

pedestrians passing Cork Hill after dark were frequently insulted and maltreated by the numerous chairmen surrounding the entrances to Lucas’s Coffee House and the Eagle Tavern, the waiters of which establishments supported them in those engagements by pouring pails full of foul water upon their opponents.

Changes were needed. Trinity College Dublin led the charge at the other end of Dame St by demolishing the Jacobean frontage of college, itself less than 70 years old, and installing the present frontage. Copious plans of the area exist for around 1766 in the Wide Street Commissioners’ archives, lovingly cared for by Dublin City Archives. But before we look at those, an earlier glimpse is available. A pair of maps of the area dated 1751 (showing the alignment at the time) and 1753 (showing planned changes) are described by MacDowel Cosgrave (1918). A section of interest is shown. In this Survey of the present streets leading to His Majesty’s Royal Pallace or Castle of Dublin. Novr 9th, 1751, Cork Hill is clearly visible. 

Extract of a survey of the present streets leading to His Majesty's Royal Pallace or Castle of Dublin. Novr 9th, 1751

Extract of a survey of the present streets leading to His Majesty’s Royal Pallace or Castle of Dublin. Novr 9th, 1751

Gloriously, this map has the building locations annotated, and inspecting the legend, one finds that Cork House is located at position number 34, sandwiched between Mr Butler, printer (33), and Mr Mear’s mercers shop (35).

Proposal for new street linking Dame St to river. Point a marks proposed location of statue of George I

Proposal for new street (between the two ‘C’s) linking Dame St to river. Point a marks proposed location of statue of George I

More exciting is the proposal of 1753. In this we see that the new alignment of what would become Parliament St is proposed – 46 feet wide, running from the river south to Dame St. At the junction, a large square on the south side was planned. This was to be named Bedford Square after the Lord Lieutenant of the time, and there is even an annotation to include a statue in the centre. This was to be of George I, relocated from the old Essex Bridge. Losing out were buildings number 25 (Mr D’Olier, Goldsmith), 26 (Mr John Ross), and 27 (Mr Fords, Print Shop), and one presumes, the buildings around the new square, including Cork House.

Extract of the Wide Street Commissioners map of the area around Cork Hill (click to link to Dublin City Library source)

Extract of the Wide Street Commissioners map (No. 499) of the area around Cork Hill (click to link to Dublin City Library source). ‘A‘ marks the proposed location of the statue.

There is a significant number of maps available in the Dublin City Library image collection documenting the Wide Street Commissoners plans for the area, but perhaps the one to select to continue our story here is Map No. 499, shown. This shows Dame Street, Castle Lane (now Palace Street), Swan Alley (now Exchange Court), Parliament Street, Cork Hill, Castle Street, Castle Yard and vicinity. The site of Cork House is now annotated as “Lot from Swan Alley to Cork Hill”, and it is evident that plans for a square and statue of George I were still being considered by the Commissioners.

Rocque's map of 1756 showing the proposed Bedford Square

Rocque’s map of 1756 showing the proposed Bedford Square

The letter A on the map marks “a pedestal for the Statue of his Majesty George I which faces Parliament St and Castle St.” Parliament St is now shown, with “New Buildings” lining either side. The intention to complete the square obviously convinced Rocque, who in his 1756 map showed the square, to the south of Cork Hill, complete with statue. The square itself looks like Rocque rubbed out previous engravings of existing buildings. His 1757 map shown at the top of the article corrected the prediction.

As we now know, the square was never built, but Cork House was demolished in 1768, and City Hall construction began the following year. The infamous approach of the Wide Street Commissioners on Parliament St is well documented, when “public consultation” was replaced by unroofing houses in the middle of the night to get people to leave. While it would be some time (and a national rebellion) before Lord Edward St would appear, the area was beginning to take the form we recognise today.

A new building on Sackville St, 1886

18 Lower Sackville St, at the junction of Sackville Place. (Irish Builder, Dec 1886)

18 Lower Sackville St, at the junction of Sackville Place. (Irish Builder, Dec 1886)

The Irish Builder included the plans for the building at 18 Lr Sackville St in its Dec 1886 issue. The building, which had been recently completed by J. and W. Beckett, was designed by George P. Beater, an architect and illustrator of the sketch shown.

The materials included red brick and terra cotta from North Wales and limestone from the quarries of Walter Doolin, Ballinasloe. The ceiling of the shop was finished in pitch pine and American walnut.

The shop was for George Mitchell, Esq, but perhaps Mitchell leased it out, for in 1901, the Lambe family lived at No. 18. John Joseph Lambe was a draper. The Irish Builder article mentions that as well as the Imperial Hotel on one side, the premises of “the old-established drug and window-glass warehouses of Messrs. Hoyte and sons.” By 1901, a new chemist was resident in No. 17: James Campbell from Co. Down.

Tucker's Row and Drogheda St, Rocque 1756

Tucker’s Row and Drogheda St, Rocque 1756

The article mentions that Sackville Place was formerly known as Tucker’s Row, and indeed on Rocque’s 1756 map, Tucker’s Row is marked. Of course at that stage, there was no bridge over the Liffey between what became O’Connell St and Westmoreland St., and the stretch from Tucker’s Row to the river was called Drogheda St.

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.

Glib Market, Thomas St

Glib Market, Thomas St

Glib Market, Thomas St (Rocque, 1756)

On Rocque’s map, 1756, there is a substantial curb-side marking on Thomas St with the label “Glib Market.” It lay just east of the entrance to St Catherine’s Church in the direction of Meath St. The name “Glib” comes from an ancient watercourse; the Glib River (Brooke-Tyrell, 1983). While it was originally thought that this was laid out in 1670, it was later found to be much earlier. A Trinity College deed from 1349 makes reference to Pype Lane, at the back of Thomas St and a 1426 deed mentions a lane “through which the water of the pipe of Dublin runs.” Whatever the origins, in 1696, an order was made to provide costs to cover and pave over the Glib, and in 1709, a proposal was mooted to establish a Hide Market at “the back of the Glib Water in Thomas Street.” (Jackson, 1950, who covers the Glib watercourse in glorious detail).

Perhaps this Hide Market is the origin of our Glib Market, obviously well established by the time Rocque wandered by in the 1750s. Brooke-Tyrell reports some interesting anecdotes. A meeting of Herring Sellers from the market was held 1781 so that they could air their concerns about the crowds standing about, with no intention of buying herrings, but just to listen to ballad singers. The sellers felt that these cads should be made to walk on the opposite side of the road; enforced by the Lord Mayor’s men if necessary. Standing around listening to ballad singers was clearly part of the social scene of the time. Local schoolmaster Dr. William Gahan wrote in the rules for his new school in 1777:

The children are never to assemble together in the streets, either going to, or returning from school: never to join any riotous meetings, or to stand listening to ballad singers or swearers (from Brooke-Tyrell, 1983).

What was Frawleys, and (site of?) Glib Bank

What was Frawleys, and (site of?) Glib Bank (Google Maps)

Glib was also the source of a name of a bank on the street (Archiseek Forum). A will of 1747 left money to two clerks of the bank; Abraham Fuller and John Bell (£100 each – what loot!). The bank was located in what is now, or what was, Frawley’s Department Store.

Next time you stop to buy your toilet rolls and washing powder, you’re at a market that is 0ver 300 years old…

Notes

  • To keep up to date with Thomas St life, architecture and culture see the community group pages on Facebook and Twitter
  • Val. Jackson (1950) The Glib Water and Colman’s Brook, Dublin Historical Record, 11(1), 17-28.
  • Alma Brooke-Tyrrell (1983), Focus on Thomas Street, Dublin Historical Record, 36(3), 107-117.
  • Archiseek Forum on Glib bank at Thomas St.

Cork St Fever Hospital

Readers may be interested in keeping an eye on the Royal College of Physicians’ blog which plans to feature some posts on the Cork St Fever Hospital archive preservation and cataloguing over the next year. The first post in the series includes this engraving of the hospital, clearly a substantial building.

Cork St Fever Hospital (Click to go to RCPI blog)

Cork St Fever Hospital (Click to go to RCPI blog)

Eugene Dudley’s recent article in Dublin Historical Record is a good read on the hospital and the social conditions at the time of opening. Citing John Rutty’s Natural History of County Dublin, he writes that there were no sewers, the city had 19 graveyards with people buried in shallow graves, and the water supplies contained dead animals. No one was safe from the threat of fever. The hospital chaplain, Rev James Whitelaw,* himself died of fever in 1813. He had conducted a survey of the city, reporting that

the labouring poor and beggars [were] crowded together ‘to a degree distressing to humanity in truly wretched habitations with often 10 to 16 persons of all ages and sexes in a room not of fifteen feet square’. (Dudley, 2009)

Having opened the Sick Poor Institution on Meath St. in 1794, it was decided that while this dispensary was successful, there was a further need for a hospital in the area. In 1801, 15 Trustees were named at the Royal Exchange for the new hospital. These included Samuel Bewley, William and Thomas Disney, Arthur Guinness Jr, and John David La Touche. Money was raised with relative ease. Reporting to an inquiry in the middle of the nineteenth century, a La Touche descendant stated:

Dublin was at that time in a very different position from that in which it is at present. There were a great number of wealthy manufacturers who resided in the Liberties, and employed a great number of people; they were very charitably disposed. (Dudley, 2009)

Site of Cork St Fever Hospital from Rocque's map 1756.

Site of Cork St Fever Hospital from Rocque’s map 1756.

The site for the hospital was selected to be “Widow Donnelly’s Orchard”. It is unnamed, but clear on Rocque’s map that an orchard existed on the site of the hospital. The site is bound by Love Lane (now Donore Avenue) to the west and Brickfield Lane to the east. Construction began in 1802 and was complete by 1808. The hospital opened after the ward ranges were complete in May 1804. It clearly had immediate success: in 1805, 1028 patients were admitted from the hospital’s catchment area of south of the Liffey to the South Circular Road. 874 of these were “discharged and cured”, 97 died, and 57 were still in care at the end of the year.

Fever Hospital Site ca 1840 (Ordnance Survey of Ireland)

Fever Hospital Site ca 1840 (Ordnance Survey of Ireland)

The fever hospital is visible from the early OSi map (ca 1840); and its foot print remains relatively unchanged today, save for an additional building in the south west of the complex. It is easy to see the relationship of the buildings in this map to the etching shown at the top of the article.

Notes

E. Dudley (2009) A Silent Witness – Cork Street Fever Hospital, Dublin Historical Record, 62(1), 103-126.

*An interesting article on Rev James Whitelaw and his Survey of the City is available on the Come Here to Me blog.

 

Rocque’s Plan of the City 1756 and 1757 now online

From "Survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin" (1757)

From “Survey of the city and suburbs of Dublin” (1757)

After arriving in Dublin about 1754, John Rocque began his famous surveys of the city. In total, Rocque published six maps of the city; all the more impressive given the short time he spent here. The first was his “Exact Survey of the City and Suburbs of Dublin“. This was published in 1756, and  provides glorious detail of every corner of the city and its suburbs. You can have your very own reduced size copy from the Royal Irish Academy,* or view it online at the Bibliothèque nationale de France at this link. This was later updated by Bernard Scalé, and you can see how useful the comparison is in my previous article on Hume St and Ely Place. This was followed in quick succession by a Survey of the City and Suburbs of Dublin, now also online, and a Survey of the City, Harbour, Bay and Environs of Dublin, online here. Rocque wrote in an accompanying guide to the latter:

But we see in this Map, that Dublin is one of the finest and largest Cities of Europe, as well on Account of its Quays, which reach with Order and Regularity from one End of the Town to the other, as on Account of a great many grand Buildings in different parts on either Side; for instance Kildare house, the Barracks, Hospitals, Parliament-house, the College, and the Castle, which is the residence of the Lord Lieutenent, &c. and also on account of several spacious and magnificent Streets, the Gardens, Walks, &c

In this guide, Rocque also offers his opinion of the locals. They are “frank, polite, affable, make it their pleasure to live much with each other and their Honour to treat Strangers with Politeness and Civility“.

In 1760, he published An Actual Survey of the County of Dublin, which is magnificent—it reaches as far south as Lord Powerscourt’s recently revitalised estate outside Enniskerry in County Wicklow (Rocque knew who paid the bills). That one is visible in the Map Library of TCD. Other maps included an undated precursor to his 1756 map and a 1762 map of the baronies of Dublin, probably published by his wife after his death.

Click and enjoy these beautiful maps!

Notes

  • *Lennon and Montagues’ book on Rocque’s plan of the city is a must read for cartophiles: Colm Lennon and John Montague, 2010, John Rocque’s Dublin: A Guide to the Georgian City, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.
  • F O’K (1974) John Rocque on Dublin and Dubliners 1756, Dublin Historical Record, 27(4), 146-147.
  • B. P. Bowen (1948) John Rocque’s Maps of Dublin, Dublin Historical Record, 9(4), 117-127.