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.

 

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A Long Lane

Long Lane was longer

Long Lane was longer

While it doesn’t make (as) much sense now, Long Lane was a very appropriate name for the street that ran from New Street/Clanbrassil St to Wexford St. Its length was originally 500 metres, but this was bisected by Bride St/Heytsbury St when that street was laid out in 1846.

Long Lane exists on Rocque’s map of 1760 and the plan of the city in 1797. This area was the Earl of Meath’s Liberty, and the most significant building on the street was the Meath Hospital. This was built on the south side of Long Lane in 1821, moving from its earlier location in The Coombe (the portico of the original building still stands in The Coombe). The hospital was built on what Rocque’s map calls “Naboth’s Vineyards”, which had been bought by Dean Swift in 1722 (it was also called Dean’s Vineyards). Writing in 2008, Walsh states that the wall between the hospital and Long Lane includes sections built by Dean Swift.

meath hospital

The site was purchased from him after a donation of £6000 from Thomas Pleasants, whose money went to build the new hospital. He did not live to see the hospital opened. Money had been sought from the Duke of Leinster and Lord Powerscourt, but in the end Pleasants was the main benefactor. He was rewarded with a street in his own name nearby.

The northern side of Long Lane had on the early maps a Cabbage Garden marked on an area of about two acres. This included the site of the current DIT building on Kevin St., and my own office. Strangely, the recording of brassicas at this site continued onto the early Ordnance Survey map, which seems rather quaint. After its bisection by Bride St., the eastern end of Long Lane initially retained its original name. Buildings here included St Sepulchre’s Marshalsea, now the site of a modern apartment complex, and of course St Kevin’s Church, now a ruin. However, by the end of the century, the eastern end of the lane had been renamed Camden Row. The cabbage gardens were also gone by this stage; replaced by saw mills. The Earl of Meath’s legacy is still visible in a row of houses on the remaining section of Long Lane known as Meathville Terrace.

Notes:

  • Peter Gatenby (2005) The Meath Hospital, Dublin, Dublin Historical Record, 58(2), 122-128.
  • David Mitchell (1989) A Medical Corner of Dublin (1711 to 1889), Dublin Historical Record, 42(8), 86-93.
  • Dave Walsh, The Ghosts of Archbishop Marsh, Swift and Stella, Dublin Historical Record, 61(2), 194-196.

 

 

Crooked Staff now Ardee Street

Brewer's House Ardee St

Brewer’s House, looking south down Ardee St

The Brewer’s House on Ardee St still stands despite all around it descending into chaos. To the west and north, new apartment complexes with pint-sized sitting rooms and now-vacant office blocks were thrown up in the boom. To the south and east, the brownfield remains of the Newmarket Square complex, where rebuilding in the 1990s has, in the words of Christine Casey, “if anything worsened matters than what was there before”. Still the house stands tall, even if one side of it has plastic sheets dangling from it, protecting the chimney stack of its old next door neighbour, ripped away by St Luke’s Avenue, the extension to Cork St. The house and ruined buildings to the rear are the legacy of what was one of Ireland’s oldest breweries: Watkins.

watkins

Watkins’ Brewery

Watkins’ Brewery dates from the early eighteenth century, and along with Jameson Pim & Co probably pre-dates their more famous neighbour at St. James’ Gate. The brewery was located on Lord Meath’s estate; who is still remembered by some street names: Brabazon Place off Newmarket Square, at the rear of the site, Meath St nearby and of course Ardee St itself. Watkins were particularly well known for their XX Stout and their porter; eagle-eyed among you will spot an advertisement for Watkins’ Extra Stout in this image from the National Library of Ireland. But the continuing rise and rise of Guinness meant that the competition steadily closed down. In 1904 Watkins merged with Jameson Pim & Co, and by 1937, the company intended to go into voluntary liquidation. It must have been a hard decision for Alfred E Darley, descendant of Joseph Watkins, to end his family’s business. That the company lasted this long is a testament to its success in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, when the company had a profitable export business. What happened after closure is unclear to me. In 1943 The Irish Times carried an article about a High Court order allowing Dublin Corporation access to the basement of the premises, still owned by the company. The basement had been designated by the Corporation as an Air Raid Shelter, and the company were refusing access.

Watkins Buildings Street sign

Old and new signs for Watkins’ Buildings

On the north side of the intersection with Cork St., there are a row of cottages known as Watkins’ Buildings, which were built by the company to house workers locally. Casey describes them thus: “rows of attractive artisan dwellings in brown and red brick of c. 1880.” These houses therefore were built in a similar period, if not slightly earlier, thank those built on Bride St and St Patrick’s by the Guinness Trust.

Watkins Buildings (Informatique on Flickr)

Watkins Buildings (Informatique on Flickr)

The Eighteenth Century: Crooked Staff

Booter Park

Booter Park (Lawlor, 1931)

A map of the site where Watkins’ buildings are now located exists. Drawn in 1749, it is called Booter Park (Lawlor, 1931) and was bound by the Coombe to the north, Ardee St to the west and “bounded towards the East and the South upon the lands now in the tenure of the Right Hon Henry the Earle of Meath”, according to a document from 1669. The Coombe is visible in the bottom left (north-east) of the map. This was the heart of the Earl of Meath’s “Liberty”, which was a fashionable quarter during the eighteenth century. The Earl of Meath had a townhouse, Ardee House, located near the Coombe Hospital. The name Ardee itself comes from the fact that the Sir Edward Brabazon was elevated to the Peerage of Ireland by King James I as Baron Ardee in 1616. He established Killruddery at Bray soon afterwards. Edward’s son was subsequently elevated again by King Charles I as Earl of Meath in 1627. The patchwork of land ownership in this area is clear from a map setting out the plan for Newmarket itself (Frazer, no date), which distinguishes between “Earle’s Land” and “Church Land”.

New Intended Market for Donour

Both of these maps show that Ardee Street originally had the name is “Crooked Staff” (you have to read Staff twice to check you don’t read Street). I wonder if this name comes from the area’s proximity to St Patrick’s Cathedral, whose Dean owned the land. Looking at Rocque’s map from a decade later, it’s clear that the street has a kink in it right about where the present-day Cork St intersects it.

Plaque commemorating 1916 site

Regular readers of this blog (I always wanted to say that) will know that I like to connect a plaque with the street being discussed. The Irish Times reported in October 1949 that in a ceremony presided over by W. T. Cosgrave, four plaques were unveiled on buildings

occupied by volunteers during the rising of 1916. The buildings were South Dublin Union, Roe’s Distellery, Marrowbone Lane distillery and Watkins brewery. The plaques bear the inscription: “This building was occupied by Volunteers of the 4th Batallion, Dublin Brigade, Irish Volunteers, against British forces, during Easter Week, 1916. Commanding officer for the area of occupation: Commandant Eamonn Ceannt.”

Watkins’ Brewery itself was occupied by Captain Con Colbert, but on the Tuesday evening of Easter Week, Colbert took his his company to join those at the Jameson Distillery site on Marrowbone Lane (National Library of Ireland). The plaque no longer exists on The Brewer’s House that I can see.

What now?

Plan for Cork St/Ardee St ("The Brewer's Block") From Archiseek.

Plan for Cork St/Ardee St (“The Brewer’s Block”) From Archiseek – click image to go to discussion post.

Three of the four corners of the crossroads between Ardee St and Cork St were redeveloped during the boom. A model of what was planned for the fourth corner, incorporating the Brewer’s House and the site still exists. Although it will probably be a few years before we go as mad again, it is interesting to look at what might have been the final piece of the jigsaw.

References

Ardee St (2014) using Google Maps' sqish new 45 degree viewing option

Ardee St (2014) using Google Maps’ swish new 45 degree viewing option

  • Christine Casey, 2005, The Buildings of Dublin, Yale University Press
  • William Frazer, Newmarket and Weavers’ Square, Dublin City Council Heritage and Conservation Booklet, Link to PDF (2.4 MB).
  • H. J. Lawlor (1931) Booter Park, Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, Seventh Series, 1(2), 151-155.
  • National Library of Ireland, The Main Sites of Activity During the Rising, online exhibition, Link to PDF (843 kB)

Was it St Kevin’s Abode, now Camden St?

Camden St sign

What’s in a name?

Nothing like a disagreement to spark a bit of interest. In his article in History Ireland in 2005, Patrick Garry wrote about the disappearance of Irish forms of street names in the then recently published Dublin City Streetnames. Among those he mentioned was Camden St:

Another saint connected with the diocese of Dublin, St Kevin, is also to be removed from his ancient location in Camden Street. Port Caoimhin will cease to exist and will become Sráid Camden. The loss to local history of these names is immeasurable.

Not so, says Pádraig Ó Cearbhaill, of the Department of Community, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, in a letter to History Ireland later that year. The department was responsible for providing the Irish names for the Streetnames book. Written in the tone of a man not used to being disagreed with, he states:

If Camden (Street) was in fact derived from St Kevin or Caoimhin (earlier Caeimhghin), one would expect to find direct evidence of this. Can Mr Garry provide us with examples of this ancient place-name Port Chaoimhghin from which Camden Street mystically emerged about 1778?

The “origin” of a lot of these alternative Gaelic names, Ó Cearbhaill says is an over-zealous avoidance of the use of English names. Unfortunately there is no follow-up article to this, so the case of Garry vs Ó Cearbhaill is unresolved.

Is there evidence for Port Chaoimhghin? The Historic Town Atlas lists the references to Camden Street mentioned in a series of maps and records it as Keavans Port (1673), Cavan’s Port (1709), St Kevan’s Port (1714), Keavan’s Port (1728) and St Keavan’s Port (1756) on good old Rocque. Whatever the original name, in 1778, it became Camden Street, probably as part of the overall work scheme which included the creation of Charlotte Street. Camden was yet another of Pitt’s men, he was Lord Lieutenant of Ireland seeing through the Act of Union. He didn’t get this position until 1794, so I am not clear whether Camden St is in his honour or his fathers, a man involved in the repeal of the Dependence of Ireland on Great Britain Act 1719, repealed in 1782.

Gorevan's (Links to the website Archiseek.com)

Formerly Gorevan’s Department Store (links to Archiseek.com)

Whatever about the name, Camden Street has some real gems. Numerous buildings are in the city’s List of Protected Structures. One of the most notable is what is known as the Irish Nationwide building, now a convenience store and gym. This was Gorevan’s Department store, owned by draper Michael Gorevan and his brother(s). The building is by RM Butler and TJ Byrne and is dated 1925  (Casey, 2005). Gorevans store was on the street before this however, with reference to his drapers in the early 1920s in a dispute about whether drapery firms would allow their employees to join a union (Irish Times, 20 June 1920, 29 June 1921). The new building may have been prompted by compensation Gorevan received from the state (one assumes that is arising out of the Civil War), which awarded £300 for damages to the building and goods taken away.

Gorevan's (Links to the website Archiseek.com)

No. 91, Lower Camden Street (Peter Byrne Butchers)

According to the 1911 Census, the Gorevans, are recorded at 1, Camden Street, hailed from Sligo, with brothers John (46), James (42), Patrick (38) and Michael (36). Also listed in this building are nine draper’s assistants, eight draper’s apprentices, a house keeper and four domestic servants.   The four brothers and a significant number of staff are also recorded in 1901.

Opposite is one of the oldest buildings on the street, No. 91 (Byrne’s Butchers). The unusual fan window on the top floor may be due to the building’s original design-it is proposed that it was originally a Dutch Billy.

Laurence Byrne (28), butcher, appears in the 1911 Census along with his sister (25), who both lived in what was then No. 56, Camden Street. This butchers, along with McDonnell’s of Wexford St, was a Gentile butchers, catering to the local Jewish community (O’Gráda, 2006).

Plaque at junction of Camden Street and formerly Charlotte Street

Plaque at junction of Camden Street and formerly Charlotte Street

A plaque that brings together worker relations and the local Jewish community is that on Upper Camden Street, which marks the building that was between 1912 and 1916 the headquarters of the International Tailors, Pressers and Machinists Union. Despite the grand name, this was a small grouping—Census data show that about 17% of Jewish community over 40 were tailors, whereas 38% of those under 40 were, indicating that as the community aged, it was more likely to move from artisan to trader (O’Gráda, 2006).

After some years of decline, Camden Street appears to be on the up again with some fashionable bars and restaurants—or should I say in Íarnród Éireann parlance: Bar Sneacanna—locating here. There’s plenty of life in the old Port yet.

Notes

  • Christine Casey, 2005, The Buildings of Dublin, Yale University Press
  • Cormac O’Gráda, 2006, Jewish Ireland in the age of Joyce: a socioeconomic history, Princeton University Press. 

Hume Row and Smith’s Buildings now Ely Place

Stephen's Green East on Rocque's map, shows an unoccupied plot that would later become Hume St

Stephen’s Green East on Rocque’s map, shows an unoccupied plot that would later become Hume St (from cover of Lennon and Montague) 

Ely Place seems to have formed almost by accident in 1768. Rocque’s 1756 plan of the city shows that the east side of St Stephen’s Green had some vacant plots, including one plot that aligns with what is now Hume St. Perhaps spotting an opportunity to increase the earning potential of the land area, Gustavus Hume (the man who brought Richard Cassels to Ireland) constructed Hume St. With Ely House the first house to be built in 1771 at the end of Hume St, the connection from Merrion St turning the corner to Hume St—thus forming Ely Place—was a natural result of the new arrangement. The name Ely comes from the marriage of Gustavus’ daughter to the Earl of Ely. Maurice Craig notes—with some satisfaction I feel—that not only were these city streets adjacent, but the ancestral homes Ely Lodge and Castle Hume are also side by side in Enniskillen (Craig, 1952).

Updated version of Rocque's map by Scalé, 1773

Updated version of Rocque’s map by Scalé, 1773

Hume’s work was captured on Scalé’s update of Rocque’s map in 1773, although Ely Place was called Hume Row, until Ely House was built (Irish Builder, 1893). By the time Dublin was mapped again in 1789, it is recorded as Ely Place. Since then, Ely Place has enjoyed a significant status. Even as the shift away from Dublin hit St Stephen’s Green in the 1820s and 1830s, Ely was quoted as being “more select” (McCabe, 2011).

Ely House, by Fiona H Mitchell (National Library of Ireland)

Ely House, by Flora H Mitchell (links to National Library of Ireland catalogue)

Ely House, now Nos. 7 – 8 is the largest house on the street. It was the first to be built, and is clear to see on Scalé’s map, facing Hume St. No. 7 was home to the physicist and Trinity Fellow George Francis Fitzgerald, and there is a plaque in his honour, the first of three plaques at this junction.

Much more interesting for me though is next door, No. 6, which was bought from the Earl of Clare by the 4th Viscount Powerscourt, prior to selling up his very grand townhouse on South William St. Poor Lord Clare, the Lord Chancellor, was attacked by a mob in College Green during riots of 1795, according to a story retold by his sister in 1807:

My late brother the Earl of Clare was always an active, faithful servant to his king and country and ever supported the Protestant interest both in Ireland and England… on the day Lord Fitzwilliam was re-called [prompting the riots], when my brother, was returning from the Castle, after having assisted in swearing in the newly-arrived Lord Lieutenant, a ferocious mob of no less than 5,000 men and several hundred women, assembled together in College green, and all along the avenues to my brother’s house. The male part of the insurgents were armed with … every other weapon necessary to break open my brother’s house: and the women were all of them armed with aprons full of paving stones. They wounded my brother, in the temples in College green; and if he hand not sheltered himself by holding his great square Official Purse before him, he would have been stoned to death. [Irish Builder, 1893]

No. 6, Ely Place Lord Powerscourt had to retrieve his paintings in a van while his step-grandmother was away. No. 6 is the first house past the white railings (from McCullough, 1989)

No. 6, Ely Place. Lord Powerscourt had to retrieve his paintings while his step-grandmother was away. (from McCullough, 1989)

The Earl escaped further injury by dressing up as a kitchen maid once he arrived at the back door of his house. Having escaped this drama, he died in 1802 and the house was sold to 4th Viscount Powerscourt. This Lord Powerscourt, one of only five Irish Lords to oppose the Act of Union (that is my tenuous link to the previous post about Pitt St) died in 1809 and the house became the dower-house of his second wife, Isabella, the Dowager Viscountess Powerscourt. A formidable woman, she lived there until 1848, out-living not only her step-son but her step-grandson, who was just eight when his father died. When he came of age, one of his duties was to retrieve paintings and furniture from the house at 6 Ely Place taken from the house at Enniskerry by Isabella. In his memoirs, Mervyn, 7th Viscount describes the operation (Wingfield, 1903):

All the family pictures now at Powerscourt… had been removed by Dowager Lady Powerscourt sometime in my father’s minority and before his marriage. He was determined to recover the pictures, and on occasion when Isabella, Lady Powerscourt, was absent he went to the house with a van and carried off all the pictures and brought them back to Powerscourt.

Hume House,birthplace of Richard Griffith taken in 2012.

Doorway of Hume House,birthplace of Richard Griffith taken in 2012.

Powerscourt did however install a new staircase in the 1830s. Soon after the Dowager’s death in 1848, No. 6, along with its pair No. 5 (Glentworth House) had a very different use—they were given over in 1859 to the Offices of the General Valuation and Boundary Survey of Ireland under Sir Richard Griffith, becoming the nerve centre of his enormous land valuation survey. Griffith’s birthplace was just opposite, at the junction of Ely and Hume. Marked with an old plaque, it is now neglected—a sad testimony to the man involved in every major undertaking in 19th century Irish administration: Bog Surveys, Ordnance Survey, Griffith Valuation, Census. For good measure, he is also father of Irish geology, having been Professor of Geology and Mining at the Royal Dublin Society. The Valuation Office moved out in 1998 to the Irish Life Mall.

Quoin at No. 1 Smith's Buildings, Ely Place

Quoin at No. 1 Smith’s Buildings, Ely Place

The extension of Ely Place towards the Royal Hibernian Academy was originally called Smith’s Buildings, with Thomas Dodd Smith, builder living at No. 1. Not sounding grand enough, its residents opted instead for the name Ely Place Upper. A stone quoin with the engraving “Smith’s Buildings” is visible at No. 1, of the 5-block terrace at the end of Ely Place Upper.

The third plaque is dedicated to George Moore, who lived at No. 4 Ely Place Upper, and apparently made use of the garden at No 15, opposite, now the site of the Royal Hibernian Academy (Moore, 1966). The Tinker, by Douglas Hyde, first President of Ireland, was played in the garden in 1906, as Gaelige (Daly, 1945). It seems everywhere you look on this street, there is something to commemorate with a plaque!

Three plaques in this area, George Francis Fitzgerald, Sir Richard Griffith, and George Moore

Three plaques in this area, George Francis Fitzgerald, Sir Richard Griffith, and George Moore

Further reading and notes:

Pettigrew & Oulton’s Dublin Directory 1842Dublin Street Directory

Pettigrew & Oulton’s Dublin Directory 1842
Dublin Street Directory for Ely Place. The Dowager is at No. 6.

  • If plasterwork is your thing, Christine Casey (2005) has a lot to say about that, along with Ros Kavanagh, both of which feature a picture the staircase at Ely House. (Christine Casey,2005, The Buildings of Dublin, Yale University Press, Ros Kavanagh, 2007, Irish Arts Review, 24(3), 80 – 83).
  • Niall McCullough’s gorgeous book also has a lot about the architecture of Ely Place, including a picture of the kitchens at Ely House, architectural plans for No. 5 and No 6, and pictured here, the impressive entrance hall and staircase at No. 6. (Niall McCullough, 1989, Dublin: an urban history, Anne Street Press).
  • Old Dublin Mansion Houses, The Irish Builder, 1893, XXXV, May 1, 100 – 102.
  • Maurice Craig, 1952, (2006 repr), Dublin 1660 – 1860: The shaping of a city, Liberties Press.
  • M. H. Daly, 1945, La Touche Bridge to Hoggen Green, Dublin Historical Record, 7(4), 121 – 133.
  • Colm Lennon and John Montague, 2010, John Rocque’s Dublin: A Guide to the Georgian City, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin.
  • Desmond McCabe, 2011, St Stephen’s Green, Dublin, 1660–1875, Government Publications, Dublin.
  • Desmond F Moore, 1966, The Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin Historical Record, 21(1), 28 – 37.
  • Mervyn Wingfield, 1903, A Description and History of Powerscourt.

Edited 29 March to insert photograph of quoin at Smith’s Buildings and amend text that said I couldn’t find it… 🙂

Pitt Street now Balfe Street

balfe plaqueThe strange little laneway that runs by the front of the Westbury Hotel is called Balfe Street. I didn’t know that either, but on Clarendon St, at the back of the Westbury, there is a plaque commemorating Michael Balfe, composer, which says that he grew up on a house nearby on Pitt St. Pitt St is now Balfe St in his honour—though exactly why this plaque is on Clarendon St is anyone’s guess.

The evolution from a street remembering the Prime Minister who saw through the Act of Union to a street recognising one of Ireland’s great composers (I’m told) happened after a resolution was passed by Dublin Corporation in January 1917,  having been proposed (and unopposed) by a Unionist member of council. A letter writer to The Freeman’s Journal remarked a few days later:

I, as a ratepayer, and speaking for all the other ratepayers, hasten to say how pleased we are. Balfe, to whose honour the street will now be dedicated, is a very appropriate name. Although the street is not much either in length or respectability, still it is the best we can do at present for the great Balfe. The street, just like Pitt himself and his foul work, the Union, has gone into decay and rottenness.

Balfe the House

No. 10, Pitt Street, by Flora H Mitchell (National Gallery of Ireland)

No. 10, Pitt Street, by Flora H Mitchell (National Gallery of Ireland)

The Corporation’s resolution was the latest effort to honour Michael William Balfe. After his death in 1870, there appears to have been a flurry of activity. A bust was unveiled in the National Gallery in July 1878. The delay appears to be due to the fact that a stature was desired, but the £2000 required for that could not be raised. In any case, the bust, by Thomas Farrell RHA, was presented to the Gallery by the Lord Mayor. That same month, Mr William Logan, a contrabasso performer wrote to the Irish Builder wishing it to be known that:

I am the owner of the house, 10 Pitt-street, in which Balfe was born. I take a pride in living in that house… May I take the liberty of asking you to make public the fact that “Balfe’s House” is in the possession of a Dublin musician… who will place a medallion of Balfe on the front of the house, at his own expense.

Thanks to Mr Logan, a marble plaque was placed on the front of the house, as can be seen on Mitchell’s painting.

Balfe the Street

Extract from Roque's map of Dublin City, 1756

Extract from Roque’s map of Dublin City, 1756

Rocque’s map of Dublin City (1756), as reproduced in Lennon and Montague’s Dublin, shows a tantalising glimpse of the area of interest. Harry St runs southwest on a diagonal from Grafton St, through what appears to be open ground. By 1797 though, the orientation of the street was set as we now know it today, with just a component of the diagonal remaining. Pitt, yet to unleash his damage on Dublin and Ireland, is honoured with the new street name.

1797 Map of the area showing Pitt St

1797 Map of the area showing Pitt St

Its proximity to Grafton St means that it gets more mention than it might expect otherwise. No. 12 housed the “First Irish Lithographic Establishment“, mentioned in 1824—the first suggesting that the process had just been introduced to Dublin (MacDowel Cosgrave, 1907). Balfe was not the first musician on the street. John Field took lessons here as a boy from the pianist Giordani (de Valera, 1986).

Pettigrew & Oulton's Dublin Directory 1842Dublin Street Directory

Pettigrew & Oulton’s Dublin Directory 1842
Dublin Street Directory

The street was also home to the Opthalmic Hospital from 1829 to 1834, founded by Arthur Jacob, housed at No 8 and 9. It closed after the opening of an eye-ward at the Royal Dublin Hosptial, and No 8 and 9 were rebuilt. The Institute for Sick Children, fore-runner to the National Children’s Hospital at Harcourt St was also on the street.  (Somerville-Large, 1964). A survey of a house plan from the records of the Wide Street Commissioners also exists for Pitt St in 1840, for the holding of James Hanan.

Pitt St, from the 25" OSi map (www.osi.ie)

Pitt St, from the 25″ OSi map (www.osi.ie)

The street must gone into decline towards the end of the 19th century, as suggested by our first letter writer. By 1901, despite its length, about 250 people were crammed into its buildings. The 1911 Census recorded about half that number. We can get a sense of how many houses were there both from the Census and from the 1890 OS 25″ map. I count nine houses on the western side, of which only Sheehan’s pub on the corner is likely to be the only remnant. On the eastern side, there were fewer buildings, the block dominated by one large central building (the site of the former hospital or lithographic works, perhaps?). What is now No. 4, Harry St, directly opposite Westbury entrance/Bruxelles was built in 1880 by Dublin Corporation as a Weights and Measures Office, and is captured by this map (Casey, 2005). It looks like the remaining buildings were cleared in the 1920s; there are two relevant entries in the DIA for Balfe St, construction of a school for the sisters of the Holy Faith in 1921 and construction of a factory in 1923 for HAP Taylor. The dominant presence on the street is now the Westbury Hotel.

Perhaps we could re-instate the latest memento to Balfe back to its home on Balfe St?

Notes

  • Christine Casey,2005, The Buildings of Dublin, Yale University Press.
  • Terry de Valera, 1986, Grafton Street: A Collage of Time and PeopleDublin Historical Record, 39(4), 122-131.
  • Colm Lennon and John Montague, 2010, John Rocque’s Dublin: A Guide to the Georgian City, Royal Irish Academy, Dublin. 
  • Birthplace of Michael Balfe, The Irish Builder, July 1878, Vol. XX, no. 446, p. 202.
  • E. MacDowel Cosgrave, 1907, A Contribution Towards a Catalogue of Nineteenth-Century Engravings of DublinJournal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland, 37(1), 41 – 60.
  • John O’Gahan, Letter to The Freeman’s Journal, Jan 11, 1917.
  • L. B. Somerville-Large, 1964, Dublin’s Eye Hospitals in the 19th CenturyDublin Historical Record, 20(1), 19 – 28.