Ireland 2019: Dublin’s Grafton Street

So we said our goodbyes to Trinity College, the Book of Kells and the Buttery restaurant and headed for our next adventure: a walk down Grafton Street to St Stephen’s Green. We had to make a slight detour, however, before Grafton and pay our respects to Molly Malone, probably the most famous fishmonger in history.

O’Donoghue’s on Suffolk Street.

Click on any photo to see a larger version of that photo.

On our way to see Molly Malone we passed O’Donoghue’s Bar on Suffolk Street. Another bar named O’Donoghue’s on Merrion Row is famous for being the favorite hangout of the Dubliners during the 60s and 70s. We visited the Suffolk Street bar on our last day in Dublin and didn’t realize it was the wrong one!

The Tart with the Cart. The popular song Molly Malone is Dublin’s unofficial anthem.

We first saw Molly Malone in 2002 when she was on Grafton Street but in 2014 she was moved to her present location on Suffolk Street, about a block away from Grafton.

I guess you can tell where tourists usually rub for good luck.

Molly Malone looms over my three granddaughters.

I think the last verse of Molly Malone is very apropos for our times: “She died of the fever, And no one could save her. And that was the end of sweet Molly Malone.  Now her ghost wheels her barrow through streets wide and narrow singing Cockles and Mussels. Alive, alive-oh!”

Our first busker of the day — near Molly. The walls of St Andrew’s Church provide the backdrop.

We then backtracked a block and found Grafton Street again.

Most of Grafton is pedestrianized.

Experiments began in 1971 and in 1983 the lower portion of Grafton Street (from Stephen’s Green to Nassau Street) was permanently pedestrianized. The upper portion of Grafton (from Nassau Street to College Green) is not pedestrianized.

We saw one or two buskers on O’Connell Street and a few in the Templebar area. But most Dublin buskers prefer Grafton Street.

Look closely at the above photo and you might notice a McDonald’s in the background. The first McDonald’s in Ireland opened up on Grafton Street in the 1970s.

Strolling by Duke Street flower stalls.

“On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge.” — Patrick Kavanagh, On Raglan Road

Bewley’s Oriental Café opened in 1927.

Bewley’s is famous for their coffee, tea and pastries. The place closed towards the end of 2004 but reopened three years later.

Looking down Anne Street from Grafton to St Ann’s Church of Ireland.

St Ann’s is on Dawson Street which runs parallel to Grafton. Grafton was developed by the Dawson family in 1708. It was formerly just a path that ran from College Green to St Stephen’ Green.

Flowers on Grafton (at Harry Street).

Same flowers. Different angle.

Grafton Street is 500 meters long and 12 meters wide. The street was repaved in 1988.

Grafton Street at the intersection of Anne Street (right) and Harry Street (left).

Lots of shoppers on this section of Grafton. The stores on the left include King of Trainers, Topman and North Face.

Tribute to rock musician Phil Lynott on Harry Street off Grafton.

Lynott (1949-86) was a singer, songwriter and musician and a founding member of the rock band Thin Lizzy. One of his most famous songs was The Boys are Back in Town.

Bruxxelles off Grafton has three bars. Phil Lynott frequented one of them, commonly called the Rock Bar. But its official name is the Flanders Bar.

People passing Vans, a shoe and clothing store.

Captain America’s is flanked by shoe stores.

Busker in front of Captain America’s, a cookhouse serving American-styled food..

Grafton Street starts at the northwest corner of St Stephen’s Green.

Grafton Street was once lined primarily with clothing and jewelry stores. Now there are many fast food restaurants and stores like this camera store.

The foot of Grafton at Stephen’s Green (most Dubliners leave off the Saint in St Stephen’s).

Memorial to Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa on Stephen’s Green.

O’Donovan (1831-1915) was from Rosscarbery, County Cork. He added Rossa to his birth name. He was a leader of the Fenian Movement and was jailed for two years in 1858 and again for life in 1863. In 1870 many Fenians were granted their freedom and Rossa was exiled to New York where he founded a newspaper that extolled the Fenian dynamite campaign that resulted in the bombing of locations all over England and Scotland during the 1880s. He died on Staten Island at the age of 83 and his body was sent back to Dublin for burial and Patrick Pearse gave a rousing speech at his gravesite. Pearse was the leader of the Easter Uprising a year later.

London has its Hyde Park. Paris has its Luxembourgh Gardens. Dublin has its St Stephens Green.

The Fusilier’s Arch at the Grafton Street entrance to St Stephen’s Green is a memorial to the officers and enlisted men of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who died during the Second Boer War.

What happened on St Stephen’s Green during the Easter Uprising of 1916.

The grandkids in front of the Gaiety Theatre before Riverdance. The Gaiety is on South King Street just off Grafton. The Dubliners played there on their 40th anniversary in 2002.

Dublin was the host for the Eurovision contest in 1994 where Riverdance debuted and the show was a big hit throughout 1995. Michael Flatley split off in 1996, however, and formed his own Lord of the Dance show. The rest of Riverdance continued their tour and went around the world a few times. In recent years they have returned to the Gaiety Theatre every Summer. Our entire family thoroughly enjoyed the show.

At the foot of Grafton Street we watched this street performer playing with fire.

Children, please don’t try this at home.

The Duke on Duke Street is a block off Grafton.

The Duke on Duke Street was one of James Joyce’s favorite watering holes. Both the bar and the street got their name from Charles Fitzroy, the second Duke of Grafton.  Grafton Street was named after his father, Henry Fitzroy, who was an illegitimate son of King Charles II and the seventh great grandfather of Princess Diana.

We had dinner at Carluccio’s down the street from The Duke.

It was our Farewell to Ireland dinner. My older daughter and her family flew home the next day. The rest of us stuck around for two more days before we, too, flew home.

Looking back down Duke Street to Grafton.

The little restaurant on the left next to Lisney is Davy Byrne’s where Leopold Bloom had lunch on June 16, 1904. I hear you can still order a gorgonzola sandwich with a glass of burgundy. Ulysses is the name of the bookstore on the right next to The Duke.

Grafton Street is empty now. No more tourists. And Dubliners are staying home. There is someone, however, roaming the street lately. Take a look at the following clip. Go ahead. It’s only 33 seconds

Irish Music BonusOn Grafton Street by Frances Black

OK, it’s not really an Irish song. It was written by an American, singer/songwriter Nanci Giffith, and it appeared on her 1994 album Flyer. But it’s about Grafton Street and this version is by an Irish singer, the incomparable Frances Black.

Dubliners flock to Grafton Street during Christmas time. It’s a time to touch elbows and be with friends and neighbors. Not too many tourists. Buskers are mentioned in the song as well as the famous Bewley café. And the singer somehow remembers a love she hasn’t seen in 20 years and thinks he may be living in Dallas now (Nanci is a Texan but she comes from Austin). Perhaps someone’s smile in the crowd reminded her of her love. Or maybe it was the smile of the nun who offered her a chair at a table by the door and she remembers  saying a prayer when the nuns lit their candles back home. So this is on her mind as well as the fact that she is a stranger in this town.

We had a nice day in Dublin on the Fourth of July. It was wonderful weather and we have pleasant memories of our Trinity College tour, our examination of the Book of Kells, our walk down Grafton Street to St Stephen’s Green, our attendance at the Riverdance matinee and our farewell dinner at an Italian restaurant. It rained a lot the next day but we didn’t care because we just walked to the EPIC Museum next door to our hotel. That will be the subject of my next post.

About crowcanyonjournal

I am a family man with interests in family history, photography, history and travel.
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4 Responses to Ireland 2019: Dublin’s Grafton Street

  1. disperser says:

    I’m guessing her . . . handles . . . of the cart? Right? That’s what they rub for good luck, right?

    Although, seeing as she died of the fever, I’m not sure what luck she could impart.

    Not a fan of Tin Lizzy or the song, but to die so young . . . a shame.

    • Lynott was born in England to a mixed race family and his mother sent him to be raised by his Irish grandparents in Dublin after he encountered racial abuse from his neighbors and peers. He became addicted to drugs and alcohol at an early age.

  2. Peter Klopp says:

    The street singer with the red guitar must be a teenager, quite a rare sight. Your granddaughters look so happy in front of the statue.
    I am sure there are quite a few mothers in your family. So pass on to them my best Mother’s Day wishes.

  3. Hi Peter. It is not uncommon to see teenage buskers in Ireland. Galway is a college town and most of the street performers we saw there were in the 17-24 age group but we saw a few who were even younger. The Dublin buskers were overall probably a bit older but still we saw many teenagers. Remember that musical family we met in Belfast last year? The triplets were 19 then and their sister a couple of years older. They performed as street musicians when they were in their mid-teens. My grandkids all started taking music lessons when they were 10 or 11 years old. None of them are street performers, though.
    Thanks for the Mother’s Day wishes. I will pass them on. Please wish those in your family a Happy Mother’s Day, too!

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