Cattle in the City

The sight of livestock being herded to boats moored along the North Wall was once a regular occurrence on the streets of the North Inner City. In the 1950s, one million cattle, sheep and pigs were exported annually from the capital.

“There were five cattle yards down here but there are none left now.

You had the B+I Line’s big yard and small yard in Mayor Street, the Glasgow yard, Cuddy’s – The Holyhead, and Flanagan’s. Even as a kid, I chased cattle around the street – cattle coming down from the market, down the North Circular Road every morning as I was going to school.  I grew up with them. I think there were 38 of us drovers there at one time.

One day, Georgie Kavanagh left the cattle market on the North Circular Road at Hanlon’s Corner, in Cabra, with 50 cattle and finished up down the North Wall with 49, one had gone missing.

He was after robbing the cow. He hid it in the front bedroom.

A well-known guard came down to his house in St. Brigid’s Gardens the next day. When Georgie opened the door, he heard this almighty ‘Mooooo’ from inside the house.

‘What’s that noise?’ the guard asked. Georgie replied, quick as a flash: ‘that’s my bull dog’.

Since then, Georgie was called ‘The Rustler’.”

Cattle in the city

“I got a job hunting the cattle down to the pens from the cattle market which was on the North Circular Road. They would be held in pens to wait to be shipped to different parts of the world. When we arrived in Sheriff Street all the children would come running out to see the cattle coming through the streets. Sometimes, the cattle would run them into the flats.”


“There was not very much traffic then but every Wednesday, the cattle came down from the cattle market up on the North Circular Road.

We used to see this sight of the cattle being driven, droves of cattle coming down.  There was always one man to a bull going along.  Sometimes a bull would get loose and we would be dead scared.

There were horses going up and down, CIE horses, you know.  We would scut on them, see how far you could get till yer man would let a roar at you: “Get off, get off!!”.

They used to come up from Portland Row.”

The cattle market on North Circular Road in Dublin c 1910

The cattle market on North Circular Road, Dublin. Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.

Do you have family memorabilia or stories about life in the North Inner City? We’d love to hear from you: