• Tuesday , 12 December 2017

Moore Street – Dublin’s Oldest Food Market

Ordnance Survey Ireland, Map of Moore Street (2011) Richview Map Library

Ordnance Survey Ireland, Map of Moore Street (2011) Richview Map Library

Moore Street has attracted considerable attention recently due to the controversy surrounding plans to erect another shopping centre in the area, which threatens the terrace where the Provisional Government took the decision to surrender following the 1916 Rising. However, the street has an interesting story to tell, both pre- & post-1916, and this should not be forgotten.

Moore Street was founded on the site of Saint Mary’s Abbey,[1] considered to be the wealthiest and one of the oldest Cistercian abbeys in the country at the time of the Reformation.[2] The street is named after the Moore family, planters who arrived in Ireland in the middle of the sixteenth century. They were awarded the land of the abbey for services to the British Crown and in 1728 Henry Moore, the First Earl of Drogheda, founded Moore Street along with Drogheda Street (now O’Connell Street), Earl Street and Henry Street.[3] It developed in two building phases, one in 1728 mainly along the western side and a second in 1763 mainly along the eastern side.[4]

Rocque, John, Roque's Map showing Moore Street (1756) Richview Map Library

Rocque, John, Roque’s Map showing Moore Street (1756) Richview Map Library

In the years following its construction, the city directories show very few businesses on the street, indicating that it was originally a quiet residential area.[5] However, moving into the nineteenth century, there is a sharp increase in the number listed, with commercial activity focusing on skilled crafts and trades such as perfumery, candle making and painting. [6]

In 1818, Moore Street became the site of the first skin hospital in the British Empire, known as the ‘Dublin Infirmary of Cutaneous Disorders’. Doctor William Wallace founded the hospital in number 20,[7] where diseases such as scabies, leprosy, smallpox, scarlet fever and measles were treated free of charge for almost twenty years.[8]

As the century progressed the street began to experience a shift in character. Many of the houses had begun to decline and the handmade Georgian brick had to be replaced with machine-cut Victorian brick.[9]  By the 1850s, the Henry Street end continued to house an array of businesses including an architect, a printer and a mattress maker. However, as one moved towards Parnell Street, the density of food shops grew.[10] Activity from the markets that extended behind Moore Street to Little Denmark Street, the largest market in the city, began to spill on to Moore Street[11] and by the beginning of the twentieth century business on the street focused almost solely on food.[12] The number of butchers and poulterers also began to increase. [13] These were supplied by the numerous slaughter houses in the vicinity between Moore Street and Cole’s Lane.[14] An article in the Dublin Builder describes the conditions of the markets in Moore Street and similar ones throughout the city:

‘Fowl, butchers’ meat, fish, and vegetables all huddled together in dilapidated stalls, and the two latter especially, at the feet of the purchasers, under the “open canopy of heaven,” forming intimate acquaintanceship with the street puddle, and offering a tempting allurement to stray passers of the canine species.’[15]

Throughout the twentieth century, street traders and small businesses continued to operate on Moore Street. However, in 1968 inspectors for Dublin corporation found conditions to be ‘unhygienic and unsuitable’[16] and almost the entire west side of the street was demolished to make way for the ILAC centre,[17] destroying the Rotunda Market, Taaffe’s Market, Anglesea Market and Norfolk Market.[18]

Irish History Links, Moore Street in 1959 (1959) http://www.irishhistorylinks.net/pages/OldDublin/MooreStreet1959.jpg, accessed 10 December 2014

Irish History Links, Moore Street in 1959 (1959) http://www.irishhistorylinks.net/pages/OldDublin/MooreStreet1959.jpg, accessed 10 December 2014

Fortunately, Moore Street has survived, albeit in a considerably dilapidated state. Many of the buildings had to be rebuilt following the Rising but considerable nineteenth century fabric remains and evidence of tunneling carried out by the 1916 volunteers is visible in various houses.[19] The street has also become home to numerous small international businesses, creating an ethnically rich atmosphere.

Talking to the street traders today, it is clear that they are concerned about the future and feel they have not been included in the current development plans. As one lady said, “we were here before the Rising and we are still here 100 years after it.” She is right. Moore Street should be restored and its character conserved, not just for the rebels of 1916 or the now shabby architecture, but also for the unique and vibrant economic activity it brings to the city. It is a remnant of a way of life that has been passed down over centuries from generation to generation, adapting to changing times but remaining true to its roots with admirable resilience.

Egan, Muireann, Street Trading and International Businesses on Moore Street Today (2014)

Egan, Muireann, Street Trading and International Businesses on Moore Street Today (2014)

 

[1] Joseph Brady and Anngret Simms (eds.), Dublin through Space and Time (2001), p. 62

[2] Peter Pearson, The Heart of Dublin (2000), p. 339

[3] Séamus Scully, ‘Ghosts of Moore Street’, Dublin Historical Record, 25:2(1972), pp. 54-55

[4] Barry Kennerk, Moore Street: The Story of Dublin’s Market District (2012), pp. 223-5

[5] John Watson, ‘The Dublin Directory for the Year 1761’ in Almanack Registry Directory (1761), pp. 11-15 and John Watson, ‘The Dublin Directory for the Year 1770’ in Almanack Registry Directory (1770), pp. 11-77

[6] John Watson, ‘The Dublin Directory for the Year 1800’ in Almanack Registry Directory (1800), pp. 13-109

[7] Des O’Connell, City Times, 4(1991), p. 12

[8] Frank Powell, ‘Dr. Wallace and Dublin’s first Skin Hospital’, The City of Dublin Skin and Cancer Hospital Charity (2012) http://cdschc.ie/history/the-wallace-collection-in-the-charles-institute/, accessed 20 November 2014.

[9] Barry Kennerk, Moore Street: The Story of Dublin’s Market District (2012), p. 225

[10] Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1850 (1850), p. 772

[11] Peter Pearson, The Heart of Dublin (2000), pp. 408-9

[12] Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1910 (1910), p. 1624 and Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1939 (1930), p. 1515

[13] Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1910 (1910), p. 1624 and Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1939 (1930), p. 1515

[14] Jacinta Prunty, Dublin Slums 1800-1925: A Study in Urban Geography (1998), pp. 325-328

[15] ‘The Intended Markets’, Dublin Builder, 3:30 (1861), p. 456

[16] Elgy Gillespie, ‘Moore Street: Decline or Fall?, Unknown (1974)

[17] Peter Pearson, The Heart of Dublin (2000), p. 409

[18] Dublin City Public Libraries, Moore Street (2009) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lKG1LBZ2rig, accessed 9 December 2014.

[19] Combri Group, A Citizens Plan for Dublin Part 1: HQ 16, (Unknown), pp. 3 and 9

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