From the mid-17th
century hotels and lodging houses began to spring up to cater for the
many sailors, soldiers, port officials and travellers passing through
In 1654 the Chief Justice of Ireland, Henry
Cromwell, ordered everyone of Irish blood to move two miles outside
this led to the establishment of Irishtown.
By the turn of the century the population had
increased significantly and a floating chapel was moored nearby to
cater for the spiritual needs of the community. Work then began on St.
Matthew’s church in Irishtown in the early 18th century, one of a
number of ‘Mariners’ churches’ around
. Incidentally, the vaults of
St. Matthew’s were reputedly used as a store for smuggled goods,
smuggling being rife in the area during this period.
Throughout the 1700s travelling to and from Ringsend and Irishtown was
risky, particularly after dark, as highwaymen and thieves roamed the
Press gangs also stalked the inns abducting people for the British
To make matters worse several bridges were swept away until the current
granite structure was built after the flood of 1802 and the danger
posed by the Dodder diminished after the construction of the reservoir
at Glenasmole in 1868.
Bhí droch-chruth ar na sráidbailte
i gcomparáid le caighdeáin an lae inniú – sráideanna cúnga,
cosáin míchothroma, easpa soilse bóithre, gan córas sláintíochta, agus
na daoine bochta brúite istigh i dtithe beaga ceanntuí.
In ainneoin seo uilig ba
thréimhse rathúil an 18ú aois don Rinn agus Baile na nGael.
Fishing provided a good living for many, boat building, chemical
works and other industries provided employment, and hot and cold
seawater baths attracted day-trippers and longer-term visitors to
Irishtown. Indeed Wolfe Tone often stayed in Irishtown to take a break
from political activity.
The Great South Wall, including the Poolbeg lighthouse, was constructed
throughout the 18th century to provide greater protection for vessels,
and dredged soil from port improvements was used to form many streets
on either side of the Liffey, the sites being apportioned by
‘lot’, hence the name South Lotts Road.
The Ballast Board was founded in 1786 to manage the port. This later
became the Dublin
Port and Docks
Board, now called the Dublin Port Company Ltd.
embankment of the quays was also completed during this period.
On the 23rd April 1796 a crowd of 60 000 people witnessed the opening
of basins and sea-locks connecting the newly built Grand
Canal to the Liffey at Ringsend.
It was an astounding development, which equalled the entire Liverpool
docks at the time and meant that Dublin
was fast becoming the second port in Ireland
However, an economic downturn followed the Act of Union in 1800 as
restrictive tax laws were imposed.
To compound matters in 1818 the mail boats from Holyhead
switched to Howth, later to a new terminal at Dún Laoghaire, while the Royal Dockyard was also removed.
The worst ravages of the 1845–47 famine were avoided in the
Ringsend area due to the availability of fish and the importation of
Indian corn by the local landlord, Sidney Herbert, and as the 19th
century wore on the many industries such as glass and rope
manufacturing, boatyards, mills and the new gasworks provided welcome
In 1863 the Pembroke
consisting of Baggotrath, Donnybrook, Sandymount, Ringsend and
Irishtown, was formed. Improvements in the following decades included a
horse drawn tramline laid through the area in the early 1870s linking
Nelson’s Pillar with the Martello Tower
at Sandymount, and the construction of the sewage works in the 1880s.
The Earl of Pembroke also provided funds for Ringsend Technical
School, 1892, and
the development of Pembroke Cottages, the first of a series of housing
developments for workers, in 1893.
Around the turn of the century local Parish Priest Canon Mooney was a
tireless worker on behalf of the local population, and was responsible
for the rebuilding of St. Patrick’s church in the early 1900s.
During the 1916 Rising, Boland’s Mill on the Canal Docks was
occupied by rebels under the command of de Valera.
The flat complexes George Reynolds House and Whelan House are named for
two local men who fought in the Rising, while O’Rahilly House is
called after The O’Rahilly who was part of the GPO garrison.
In the 1930s the Pembroke Township was incorporated into Dublin city. Many
changes have taken place in the intervening years including construction
of new housing and the East
and the upgrading of Shelbourne Park Greyhound Stadium. The Dublin
Docklands Development Authority is also now redeveloping a large site;
a Village Improvement Scheme is being implemented for Ringsend; and