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A Snippet of Dublin History (Part 10) – Dame St & Its Quays

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Credit archiseek – Cork Hill

A Snippet of Dublin History (Part 10) – Dame St & Its Quays

Dame St & Its Quays -Betty gives us the interesting story behind Dame Street and its Quay 

A passage leading to Cork Hill from Isolde’s Tower was known in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries as “Scarlet Lane”. This street was in the Parish of Saint Olave and was within the city walls. In the reign of Henry the Eight, a notable citizen called Ussher owned a large orchard on the street. He would later have St. John’s Church built in Fishamble Street, at his own expense.

About the close of the reign of James the First, Scarlet Lane became known as the “Blind Quay”. In 1667, it was noted that a large mansion and three tenements, called “Cadogen’s Alley”, were built in a garden in the area. Some of the buildings located on the Blind Quay included St. Dunstan’s Coffee House (1707), The Black Lion and Punchbowl (1742), the Goose and Gridiron (1748), The Hare and Hound and the Ligonier’s Head, both of which were frequented by Masonic Lodges(1751), and The Fountain Tavern(1767). Towards the middle of the sixteenth century, the fortunes of the Blind Quay began to fall and the area was frequented by people of ill – repute. This led, in 1776, to its name being changed to Exchange Street.

In 1792, a hospital for clinical instruction was opened, under the patronage of the College of Physicians. In the early part of the century, a gentleman called Sir Patrick Dun, had bequeathed funds for the setting up of such an institution, hence this hospital was called ”Sir Patrick Dun’s Hospital”, as a recognition of this benefactor. At the beginning of the seventeenth century, the land between the northern side of Dame Street and the river Liffey, appears to have been unbuilt on but prior to this period there was a small harbour located at the end of Dame’s Gate. In the reign of James the First, part of this locality was procured for the purpose of erecting cranes and making wharves, to provide a suitable landing place for merchants transporting their goods.

A new Custom House was erected in the locality around the period of the Restoration and a Council Chamber was added, as a meeting place for the Privy Council of Ireland. In 1661, committees of the House of Commons met in the “Green Chamber” and the peers met in the “Garden Chamber” of the New Custom House. On the 19th of September 1662, an order issued by the Privy Council of Ireland declared, that Custom House Quay was the only lading and landing place for the imports and exports of Dublin. The hours assigned for this business were between sunrise and sunset from the 1st of March to the 30th of September and between 7.00 a.m. and 4.00 p.m. for the remainder of the year.


Dame Street latter 18th Century

In 1707, a new Custom House was erected close to the river, adjoining the eastern side of Essex Bridge. The Custom House Quay was limited in length to the extent of the front of the Custom House. The two upper stories of the Custom House were built of brick and each contained fifteen windows across. The lower story, level with the Quay, was an arcade of cut stone, with fifteen narrow arched entrances.

About sixty years after its erection, the Custom House was deemed to be in an unsafe and inadequate place for shipping. Large ships could not come up the river and incurred great expense unloading into “gabbards” in the harbour. Small vessels were getting stranded on a large mass of rock known as “Steadfast Dick”.  Only four ships could berth side by side at the Quay and ships were constantly being damaged by the rolling action of the waves, in such close proximity. About 1773, the upper part of the Custom House was regarded as unsafe. There was a choice to extend and repair the existing building or to erect a new building on another site. After much debate, it was finally agreed in 1774, that a new Custom House be built eastward of Batchelor’s Lane. The old Custom House was converted into a barracks and it’s new successor was finally opened in 1791.

One Response

  1. Eamon Martin says:

    Interesting fact

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