HISTORY OF THE NORTH INNER CITY

Landmarks of the North Inner City


The Custom House

Dublin’s first Custom House was designed by Thomas Burgh and built on Essex Quay in 1707, but it was not fit for purpose by the 1770s. A new site was chosen for the Custom House, along the Liffey on the north east side of the developing city. The decision was not popular with some Dublin merchants, who feared that the building’s relocation would negatively impact the value of their properties, while increasing the value of property in the east of the city.

Despite objections, the new Custom House, designed by the architect James Gandon, was completed in 1791. In May 1921, during the War of Independence, the Custom House was occupied and then set alight by members of the IRA. The tower was destroyed and was later rebuilt.

Custom House: Completed in 1791 and pictured here in 1970

Custom House: Completed in 1791 and pictured here in 1970. Courtesy of the Dublin City Council.

Bottom of Amiens St today

Bottom of Amiens St today

Tom Clarke’s tobacco shop

One of seven signatories of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic in 1916, Tom Clarke, operated a tobacco shop at 55 Amiens St. between 1907 and 1911. He then moved his premises to Great Britain St. (now Parnell St.). In 1908, Clarke wrote to his wife Kathleen with directions to the shop on Amiens St. He instructed her to leave Kingsbridge Station (now Heuston) and ‘cross over the bridge to the McCarthy’s … side of the river & wait on the corner for a tram going to O’Connell Bridge … get off when the car sits then walk up to Nelson’s Pillar & past Nelson’s Pillar for a short distance where you’ll get a car marked Nelson’s Pillar & Dollymount – take it & get off at Amiens Street Station & walk along Amiens St. till you come to 55’.

Tom Clarke was executed for his role in the 1916 Rising. Kathleen Clarke later served as a TD and Senator.

5 Lamps

The 5 Lamps stands at the intersection of 5 roads: Portland Row, North Strand Road, Seville Place, Amiens St. and Killarney St.

A well-known landmark in Dublin’s North Inner City, the lamps were erected in 1880 as a monument to Lieutenant General Henry Hall. A native of Athenry, Co. Galway, Hall was a soldier of the Bengal Army and served as superintendent of the Merwara region in India between 1823 and 1836.

The Five Lamps
Friends of the victims and members of the military outside Jervis Street Hospital during the military enquiry into the Bloody Sunday shootings at Croke Park on Sunday, 21 November 1920.

Friends of the victims and members of the military outside Jervis Street Hospital during the military enquiry into the Bloody Sunday shootings at Croke Park on Sunday, 21 November 1920. Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland.

Croke Park

Croke Park serves as the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association and as the principal stadium of the organisation. The GAA purchased the site on Jones’ Road in 1913, renaming it in honour of Archbishop Thomas Croke, an early patron of the association.

In 1920, during the War of Independence, Croke Park was the scene of a massacre when the Royal Irish Constabulary and the Auxiliary Division (Black and Tans) entered the stadium and fired on the crowd, killing 13 spectators and 1 player. This violent episode became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.

Busáras (Áras Mac Dhiarmada)

Áras Mac Dhiarmada, known more commonly as Busáras, was built between 1945 and 1953. It was designed by renowned Irish architect Michael Scott. The building adheres to the International Modern style and consciously integrates art and architecture. In 1955, the building was awarded the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) Triennial gold medal.

Busáras
Famine memorial

Famine Memorial

‘Famine’ was created by Dublin sculptor Rowan Gillespie and presented to the City of Dublin in 1997. The collection of bronze sculptures are located on Custom House Quay, and commemorate all who were forced to emigrate during the Irish Famine in the mid-19th century.

In 2007, a second series of sculptures by Gillespie were unveiled in Ireland Park in Toronto, to commemorate the arrival of Irish famine refugees in Canada.

North Strand Bombing Memorial

Ireland remained neutral during World War II but on 31 May 1941, German war planes dropped four bombs on Dublin, one of which fell on North Strand, killing 28 people and injuring 90.

The North Strand Bombing Memorial stands in Marino College of Further Education, on the corner of Shamrock Terrace. It was originally unveiled to mark the 50th anniversary of the tragedy and was refurbished for the 70th anniversary in 2011.

Aftermath of the North Strand bombing

Aftermath of the North Strand bombing. Photographs were commissioned by Dublin Corporation as evidence for the assessment of insurance claims. Courtesy of Dublin City Council.

DART train leaving Connolly Station

Connolly Station

Opened in November 1844 by the Dublin and Drogheda Railway Company, it was originally named Dublin Station, but was renamed Amiens Street Station a decade later. It was renamed in honour of James Connolly in 1966, to mark the 50th anniversary of the Easter Rising.

Memorial to 1974 bombing

On the evening of May 17th 1974, Dublin City Centre was devastated by three explosions, which occurred on Parnell Street, Talbot Street and South Leinster Street. The bombings claimed the lives of 26 people, including a pregnant woman at full term, and was followed by an explosion in Monaghan town, which resulted in the deaths of 7 more.

In 1993, the Ulster Volunteer Force claimed responsibility for the attacks, although controversy still surrounds the possible involvement of other groups. In 2002, a memorial to the victims of the bombings was unveiled on Talbot Street.

Talbot St 1974

Talbot Street bomb damage, 1974. Courtesy of Dublin City Council.

Postcard of Gloucester Street Laundry exterior

Postcard of Gloucester Street Laundry exterior

Magdalen Laundry, Seán McDermott Street

The Magdalen Laundry on Gloucester Street (now Seán McDermott Street), began as a lay-run refuge for ‘troubled and homeless women’ in the early-19th century. In 1873, the Sisters of Mercy took over the operation of the institution and were followed into that role, in 1886, by the Sisters of Charity.

Thousands of women crossed the threshold of the Gloucester Street building before its closure in 1996, many of whom were unmarried and pregnant. These women had their children taken from them and were forced to work long hours in harsh conditions. In recent years, much debate has surrounded the fate of the laundry building and site, with many suggesting that it should not be redeveloped, but should instead become a site of conscience.


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