Once on Grafton Street

Once is a 2006 musical film set in Dublin that is centred around the relationship between a Grafton Street busker and a young Czech woman who is currently working as a flower seller but her real passion is music.

The two meet on Grafton Street as the unnamed woman admires the music of the Grafton Street musician played by Glen Hansard who himself was once a busker on Grafton Street. The film follows the intense musical and emotional relationship that develops between the two characters and gives a deep insight into the lives of these two people living in Dublin. Once, filmed entirely in Dublin is beautifully shot and shows off the beauty of the city with scenes filmed on Grafton Street and in St. Stephens Green.

Music is central to the film, the excellent musical performances from the two talented musicians Glen Hansard and Markéta Irglová are a large part of the film’s success. The song Falling Slowly, a duet with Glen and Markéta is one of the most beautiful scenes in the film and the song went on to win an Oscar.

Steven Spielberg is quoted as saying “a little movie called Once gave me enough inspiration to last the rest of the year”.

The widespread acclaim of the film’s music and narrative have resulted in Once becoming a stage musical on Broadway, the musical had it’s European premiere in Dublin’s Gaiety Theatre which is just off Grafton Street. Once is now running on London’s West End where it is receiving great reviews.

The Grafton Street busker is now an international success!

Laura Finn

Boutique Hotels in the Grafton Street area

If you are looking for accommodation close to Dublin’s famous Grafton Street that offers something different then check out these great boutique hotels in the Grafton Street area.

The Drury Court Hotel is a modern boutique hotel that is just a two minute walk from Grafton Street. The superb location of the 3 star hotel allows you to be at the centre of everything in the city as it is close to all main sites and attractions. The excellent standard of accommodation ensures you will have a relaxed and comfortable stay in the centre of Dublin. For food, drink and for night time entertainment Bia Bar at the Drury Court Hotel offers a great afternoon and evening menu and the stylish bar is the perfect place for a cocktail or two.

Brooks Hotel is a 4 star hotel located on Drury Street, just a few minutes’ walk from Grafton Street. This luxury hotel provides excellent accommodation at great value. Francesca’s restaurant at the Brooks Hotel features the best of Irish and international cuisine using the finest Irish produce prepared by the hotel’s award winning chef. The Jasmine Bar is a stylish bar that is a great meeting place where you can relax with a coffee or enjoy a cocktail before or after dinner. This stylish hotel also features a fitness centre and of course if you are looking to exercise St. Stephen’s Green is a beautiful location for a brisk walk or run.

The Trinity Lodge Hotel Dublin offers contemporary accommodation in the hotel that is comprised of three historic Georgian townhouses. The boutique hotel is located just a short walk from Grafton Street and Trinity College. For breakfast a continental breakfast is delivered to your room each morning. Bite restaurant is located in the Trinity Lodge with delicious lunch and dinner menus offering ‘Uptown Food with a Downtown Vibe’. The Trinity Lodge offers something different from many other hotels with its excellent contemporary accommodation housed in a beautiful eighteenth century building.

These boutique hotels offer visitors to Dublin a unique experience in beautiful accommodation at a reasonable cost, the superbly located hotels are just minutes from Grafton Street and all of the city’s top attractions and landmarks.

Laura Finn

 

 

GraftonStreet.ie, a Complete Guide to Grafton Street has Launched

www.GraftonStreet.ie is a comprehensive listings site and guide to everything on Grafton Street and in the immediate area surrounding Grafton Street.

The new website has been developed to encourage the consumer back to traditional shopping in the city center and onto the famous Dublin street to help trade. GraftonStreet.ie is also a site for visitors to the city who can learn about the history and attractions in the Grafton Street area and find places to shop, eat or stay.
Don’t forget to check out the blog.

Businesses in the Grafton Street area can claim their listing which they can edit and use to promote special offers or coupons. A GraftonStreet.ie app is also being launched which will enable those who have downloaded the app to avail of special offers for businesses listed on the site.

GraftonStreet.ie highlights how Grafton Street offers a shopping experience with a difference. Grafton Street began as a residential street in 1708 but by 1815 most of the properties had been converted to retail units. Today, the street is lined with beautiful historic buildings housing iconic Irish businesses such as Brown Thomas and Weir & Sons, both of which have been trading on Grafton Street since the mid nineteenth century. Grafton Street now has a wide variety of retail stores both Irish and international catering for shoppers searching for either high-end or high street.

GraftonStreet.ie explores the Grafton Street experience with videos and blogs on topics such as street performers, iconic businesses on the street, St. Stephen’s Green and the rich history of the Grafton Street area. An integral part of GraftonStreet.ie is our focus on the
talent and creativity of the many different street performers on Grafton Street, the site features videos of performances and interviews with the acts.GraftonStreet.ie’s blog section will feature blogs written by the performers themselves to give the public the opportunity to get a real insight into the acts.

Grafton Street has become renowned as a launch pad for many musical acts such as Glen Hansard who won an Oscar for his song ‘Falling Slowly’ from the musical and now Broadway show ‘Once’, perhaps GraftonStreet.ie will shine a light of the next big act to come from Dublin’s famous street.

GraftonStreet.ie features regular blog posts and events happening on or around the Grafton Street area, giving visitors to the site information on everything to see and do. The blog section of the site will also have regular updates with the current re-developments that are taking place in the Grafton Street area. Updates and videos will also be posted on the
Grafton Street.ie Facebook page.

From the award winning window displays in Brown Thomas during the Christmas season to relaxing in beautiful St. Stephen’s Green on a sunny afternoon in Dublin, GraftonStreet.ie is a complete guide to everything in the Grafton Street area.

For more information contact admin@graftonstreet.ie or Alan 01-4361821

‘Great News’ for Grafton Street

The Grafton Street ‘experience’ will be getting even better as Dublin’s premier street is set for a €4 million revamp that will begin next month.

Dublin City Council’s Grafton Street Improvement Scheme will see the current red brick pavement which was laid in 1988 replaced by a more durable granite paving that has been sourced from the nearby Dublin and Wicklow mountains.

A street with an annual footfall of 30 million which houses an array of beautiful and historic buildings deserves a new and improved pavement. The repavement of Grafton Street will not only improve the street’s appearance but it will make walking down Dublin’s busiest shopping street a more pleasurable experience.

The Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí speaking about the repaving of Grafton Street has said:

“Grafton Street is the premier street south of the Liffey – when Grafton Street looks well, the city does well. The repaving is great news for businesses, shoppers and tourists. ”

The revamp of Grafton Street will include new public lighting and street furniture; sculptures will also be introduced onto the street as part of the planned improvements.

To minimise disruption during the refurbishment there will be five phases to the improvement scheme which will take place over an estimated 18 month period. Dublin City Council has said the repaving of the street will be suspended for an eight week period over Christmas and New Year sales. Most importantly all businesses on Grafton Street will remain open during the refurbishment so shoppers and those planning to visit the famous street need not worry.

Phase 1 will involve the Grafton Street end of the street to the junction with Chatham Street and will end in September.

Phase 2 will begin at the Nassau Street end of Grafton Street and up to the junction with Wicklow Street and will be completed by November.

Phase 3 will involve Wicklow Street to the Junction of Duke Street, this will take place from January to April 2014.

Phase 4 will see paving from Duke Street to South Anne Street replaced from April to August.

Phase 5, the final phase of the Grafton Street Improvement Scheme will involve the repaving of South Anne Street to Chatham Street which is due to be completed by November 2014.

Richard Guiney of Dublin City Business Improvement District realises the importance of the planned improvements to Dublin’s premier street, “The planned repaving will ensure the physical environment matches the quality retail and leisure offering and will accelerate the continued growth,”.

Laura Finn

 

Grafton Street in Joyce’s Ulysses

James Joyce’s Ulysses is often considered one of if not the greatest novels of the twentieth century. The novel takes place over one day in Dublin, beginning at 8am on June 16 1904 and ending in the early hours of the following morning. Stephen Dedalus, Leopold Bloom and Molly Bloom are the three major characters in the novel however; the city of Dublin itself must be considered as a central character in this novel. Ulysses can act as a guide to Dublin, with Dublin’s streets, shops, pubs and landmarks being at the heart of the novel. Grafton Street is one of the many city streets which feature in this epic novel.

Ulysses consists of 18 episodes, in Episode 8: Lestrygonians ‘Grafton Street, gay with housed awnings lured [Leopold Bloom’s] senses’. On his walk down Grafton Street Leopold Bloom remarks on the size of a woman’s ankles ‘Thick feet that woman has in the white stockings’, he then  passes by Brown Thomas and admires the garments in the window:

“He passed, dallying, the windows of Brown Thomas, silk mercers. Cascades of ribbons. Flimsy China silks… Gleaming silks, petticoats on slim brass rails, rays of flat silk stockings.”

In Episode 10: The Wandering Rocks, Blazes Boylan pays a visit to Thornton’s fruit shop at 63 Grafton Street which results in a humourous and flirtatious scene between Boylan and the blonde shop girl:

The blonde girl in Thornton’s bedded the wicker basket with rustling fibre. Blazes Boylan handed her the bottle swathed in pink tissue paper and a small jar.

— Put these in first, will you? he said.

— Yes, sir, the blond girl said, and the fruit on top.

— That’ll do, game ball, Blazes Boylan said.

She bestowed fat pears neatly, head by tail, and among them ripe shamefaced peaches.

Blazes Boylan walked here and there in new tan shoes about the fruitsmelling shop, lifting fruits, young juicy crinkled and plump red tomatoes, sniffing smells.

H. E. L. Y.’S. filed before him, tallwhitehatted, past Tangier lane, plodding towards their goal.

He turned suddenly from a chip of strawberries, drew a gold watch from his fob and held it at its chain’s length.

— Can you send them by tram? Now?

A darkbacked figure under Merchants’ arch scanned books on the hawker’s car.

— Certainly, sir. Is it in the city?

— O, yes, Blazes Boylan said. Ten minutes.

The blond girl handed him a docket and pencil.

— Will you write the address, sir?

Blazes Boylan at the counter wrote and pushed the docket to her.

— Send it at once, will you? he said. It’s for an invalid.

— Yes, sir. I will, sir.

Blazes Boylan rattled merry money in his trousers’ pocket.

— What’s the damage? he asked.

The blond girl’s slim fingers reckoned the fruits.

Blazes Boylan looked into the cut of her blouse. A young pullet. He took a red carnation from the tall stemglass.

— This for me? he asked gallantly.

The blond girl glanced sideways at him, got up regardless, with his tie a bit crooked, blushing.

— Yes, sir, she said.

Bending archly she reckoned again fat pears and blushing peaches.

Blazes Boylan looked in her blouse with more favour, the stalk of the red flower between his smiling teeth.

— May I say a word to your telephone, missy? he asked roguishly.

Laura Finn

 

It was Grafton Street on a rainy night..

The Script, an Irish band formed in Dublin have released three album and have gained huge global success. Band members Danny O’ Donoghue, Mark Sheehan and Glen Power all hail from Dublin and in their song ‘Before The Worst’ from their debut album the famous Grafton Street is referenced.

“It was Grafton Street on a rainy night. I was down on one knee and you were mine for life”

Grafton Street is an iconic street and it’s presence in popular music serves to show the prominent position it holds among those who have visited the street, particularly the people of Dublin.

Laura Finn

5 Star Luxury Hotels within Minutes of Grafton Street

Visitors to Dublin have an excellent selection of 5 Star hotels to choose from in the Grafton Street area. The superb location of the quality hotels insures you are just minutes from Dublin’s prestigious shopping street.

The Shelbourne Hotel is a luxury 5 Star hotel overlooking St. Stephen’s Green, established in 1824 The Shelbourne has become a landmark and an Irish institution. This 5-star hotel offers spacious accommodations, including luxurious Egyptian cotton bedding, flat-screen TV, laptop-size safe and marble bathroom,a perfect place to relax. The Shelbourne offers fine dining at The Saddle Room Restaurant a modern steakhouse and seafood restaurant with a lavish oyster bar. For a cocktail or a pint of Guinness, The Horseshoe Bar is one of the finest bars in Dublin.

You are right in the heart of Dublin’s prestigious retail and cultural quarter when you stay at The Westbury Hotel, located just off Grafton Street. The Westbury hotel offers luxury and contemporary design while providing the best of traditional Irish hospitality. The Westbury Hotel offers a great selection of restaurants and bars, Wilde – The Restaurant offers a modern fine dining experience serving fresh, seasonal fare. The Marble Bar offers 1920’s art deco glamour, a perfect place to enjoy cocktails or a glass of champagne right in the centre of the city.

The Fitzwilliam 5 Star Dublin Hotel is located just minutes from the famous Grafton Street and overlooking beautiful St. Stephen’s Green. The stylish and contemporary Fitzwilliam Hotel Dublin provides a superb selection of dining options and bars. Thornton’s Michelin Star Restaurant offers exquisite food and the best of Irish cuisine. Citron, a restaurant specialising in Mediterranean cuisine is chic and stylish and serves delicious food. Inn On The Green, a bar with the ambience of a traditional Irish bar with a modern twist. The room is intimate but there is always a lively atmosphere in this centrally located bar.

These exquisite 5 Star hotels all provide luxury accommodation with an array of fine restaurants and bars, all within minutes of Dublin’s premier shopping street and the beautiful and tranquil St. Stephen’s Green. Visitors to the city could not choose a better location to stay so why not stay in the best quality hotels on your trip. For locals a stay in one of these luxury hotels would be a perfect treat for themselves or an ideal surprise for someone else.

Laura Finn

Relax with a Coffee or Something to Eat on Grafton Street

If you are out shopping for the day and looking to relax with a coffee or you want something to eat there is plenty of choice on Grafton Street.

Bewley’s Grafton Street Café is the perfect choice if you are seeking respite from a busy day of shopping with a great selection of coffee’s tea’s and a lunch and dinner menu consisting of sandwiches, pastries, pizza and pasta. For those who want a coffee or something to eat before hitting the shops Bewley’s offer a breakfast menu with a continental breakfast and full Irish breakfast on offer. The beautiful and comfortable surroundings of the café make it an ideal stop for a coffee or to have something to eat on a trip to Grafton Street.

O’Brien’s is a great place to stop for a coffee and a sandwich or a wrap from their wide selection. Upstairs in BT2 is a Starbucks where you can enjoy a famous Starbucks coffee with a sandwich or cake and enjoy the excellent view of Grafton Street that the café provides. The Loft Cafe is a great a coffee for a quick bite to eat, with great value soup and sandwich deals available. For lovers of coffee and chocolate a visit to Butlers Chocolate Café is a must, their hot chocolate is a great treat on a cold day.

Grafton Street has a Subway Sandwich Bar located on top of the Londis convenience store, Subway serve fresh and delicious sandwiches. A footlong sub is perfect if you’re really hungry. The Londis store has a delicatessen along with a large selection of convenience foods if you are looking for food to eat on the go.

If you have a sweet tooth Gino’s is where you need to visit, Gino’s have an array of different flavours of homemade Italian gelato. Whether it’s raining or the sun is shining it is hard to resist the colourful and delicious array of ice-cream at Gino’s.

For a more substantial meal then Captain America’s, a favourite of many Dubliner’s is a great restaurant. The restaurant which has been a staple on Grafton Street since 1971 offers a large menu of burgers, steaks, pizza’s, delicious desserts including Captain’s Volcano Birthday Cake consisting of brownies, meringues, ice-cream, topped with cream and chocolate sauce. Captain America’s is a great choice for either lunch or dinner and has a large bar with a great selection of cocktails.

Grafton Street also has two Burger King Restaurants and a McDonalds with a McCafé.

Laura Finn

Powerscourt Centre, Speciality Shopping just off Grafton Street

Powerscourt Centre, a speciality shopping centre located just off Grafton Street at 59 South William Street is a historic Georgian building that was the home of Richard Wingfield 3rd Viscount Powerscourt in the eighteenth century. Lord and Lady Powerscourt had fine tastes and employed the best artists and craftsmen to decorate the townhouse. Today, there are tours available through the building taking the following route:

1. The Kitchen and Cellars – Pygmalion Bar
2. The Entrance Hall – The Garden
3. Lord Powerscourt’s Dressing Room & Bedroom – The Bonsai Shop
4. Lady Powerscourt’s Dressing Room & Bedroom – Pzazz Hair Salon
5. The Music Room – The Town Bride
6. The Ballroom – The Powerscourt Gallery
7. The Dining Room – Lost Society

The Powerscourt Centre is now a beautiful location for shopping with a selection of stores selling fashion, jewellery, antiques and interiors. Along with fashion brands such as French Connection and All Saints is The Design Centre, created for new up and coming designers along with established names to showcase and sell their designs. Current designers at the centre include John Rocha and Philip Treacy. On the top floor of the centre is The Loft Market, a collective of artists, fashion designers and vintage collectors.

There is a great selection of places to eat in the Powerscourt Centre including Terazzo Italia serving Italian and international cuisine, The Pepper Pot offering homemade organic food, Café Togo for sandwiches and pastries and Pygmalion Café which specialises in breakfast, lunch and coffees. Powerscourt offers great night-time entertainment with the Pygmalion bar which changes from a café and bar to an intimate nightclub at night with renowned DJs often playing in the club. The Lost Society lounge and club is an exciting venue where you can drink dine and dance in The Basement Club.

The Powerscourt Centre has become a creative hub in Dublin, its location in one of the most beautiful Georgian buildings in the city makes it a must-see for anyone visiting the Grafton Street area.

Laura Finn

Grafton Street, ‘the best gig in Dublin’ say Halcyon Daze

To describe the music of Halcyon Daze the words ‘funky’ and ‘cool’ spring to mind, their sound is reminiscent of 1970s American soul. Their music provides the perfect soundtrack to a warm summer day on Grafton Street.

The Dublin band say they prefer playing on Grafton Street to pubs because the street offers a large number of people from all walks of life allowing them to play and sell their CDs to an audience that couldn’t be found anywhere else.

Check out the video and listen to the great sound of Halcyon Daze.

Laura Finn

Phil Lynott’s Old Town

Phil Lynott was the lead singer and bassist of Thin Lizzy. The Irish rock group was founded by Dubliner Phil and found success with hits including The Boys are Back in Town and Jailbreak.

Phil went on to record solo albums, the second of which featured the song Old Town. The video for the song was shot entirely in Dublin city in 1982, it features a scene with Phil walking through a busy Grafton Street much to the delight of the people he passes by.

To listen to a great song and get a glimpse of Grafton Street over 30 years ago just press play!

(Grafton Street scene begins at 1:10)

Laura Finn

Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre, a Shopping Centre with a Difference

Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is a shopping mall with a difference. The magnificent architecture of the building is something to behold. Designed in the style of a Victorian glasshouse, the shopping centre blends in to the historic Grafton Street area and St. Stephen’s Green, the Victorian era public park.

The shopping centre has a great selection of retail stores; these include TK Maxx, Dunnes Stores, Quicksilver and United Colors of Benetton. For tourists visiting the city there is an excellent range of shops providing gifts and of course the building itself is something that any visitor to Dublin should see.

Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre houses unique specialised stores that you will not find anywhere else in Dublin such as Wrestling Mania which is Ireland’s official and exclusive stockist of WWE, UFC and MMA brands making it the perfect place for wrestling and martial arts enthusiasts. Asha is a boutique for music paraphernalia and gothic and alternative clothing and accessories, a selection you won’t find anywhere else in the city. Banana Tree has a variety of novelty items and gift ideas with gadgets and gimmicks for all ages.

On the top floor of Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is the Green Gallery, the gallery offers a wide range of contemporary art from Irish and international artists. Being located in a city centre shopping mall and open 7 days a week makes this art gallery extremely accessible. The gallery hosts a wide variety of exhibitions and has gained a strong reputation. The top floor of the shopping centre also houses Portrait Artists where you can have a portrait drawn from a favourite photograph, a great gift idea or memento to take home from a trip to Dublin.

If you are looking for somewhere to eat the shopping centre has a wide selection including O’Brien’s Sandwich Bar, La Croissanterie, Johnnie Cupcakes and TGI Friday’s. Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is home to Sinnott’s Bar, Dublin, a traditional Irish bar renowned for its carvery lunches and pints. Sinnott’s is also a great place to watch live sports, with a choice of 7 screens.

If you are looking for a unique shopping experience and a change from generic shopping malls Stephen’s Green Shopping Centre is the place to visit.

Laura Finn

Keywest, Great Irish Talent on Grafton Street

Keywest, a Dublin based pop/rock band are regulars on Grafton Street, the band who had a sold out headline tour in 2012 view Grafton Street as the hub of Dublin and the perfect place to perform. The street provides plenty of pedestrian traffic and the band have many people stopping to listen as can be seen from the above video of Keywest’s performance of Straight Through My Heart on Grafton Street.

Keywest are a great example of the musical talent that there is to find on Grafton Street. For the band there is no better street to play on.

Laura Finn

 

Dido’s ‘Grafton Street’

Not only is Grafton Street a place for musical artists to perform, the street is also a source of inspiration for musicians. Dido’s song  Grafton Street, from the album Safe trip Home is dedicated to her late father William. The singer has fond memories of  her Irish father who would often sing Irish songs to her. Grafton Street features in the traditional Irish song On Raglan Road which Dido sang to her father on his deathbed. The song contains the lyrics:

“On Grafton Street in November, we tipped lightly along the ledge, of a deep ravine where can be seen,  the worst of passions pledged”.

Grafton Street is a place where many memories have been created and Dido’s memories of the street have served as inspiration for this song.

No more trips to Grafton Street,
No more goin’ there,
No more sitting up all night,
Waiting for any word.

Nothing’s left that’s safe here now,
Nothing will bring you home
Nothing can bring us the peace
We had in Grafton Street.

Laura Finn

Driving down Grafton Street, Dublin in 1976

Once upon a time you could drive down Dublin’s Grafton Street, but that was before they pedestrianised it in the mid 1980’s.
Today you will only see Garda cars and security cash vans driving on Grafton Street and early weekday mornings you’ll see delivery vans and waste collection vehicles.

Here is a nice piece short film of doing just that – Driving down Grafton Street (in a Mini Moke on September 4, 1976) and around Dublin City Centre.

Thanks to Max McQuillan’s sons for sharing this on YouTube, who’s father captured this footage. The route begins at the top of Grafton Street, goes down Suffolk Street and College Green (in front of the under-construction Central Bank), then down Westmoreland Street, over O’Connell Bridge and down O’Connell Street.

Enjoy!!!

Grafton Street is Dripping in Diamonds

If you are looking for a jeweller in Dublin, Grafton Street is the place you must visit. Whether you are treating yourself, buying a gift, or purchasing the perfect engagement ring for that special someone, the selection of exquisite jewellers on Grafton Street ensures that you will find the perfect piece of jewellery you are searching for.

When writing about jewellery shopping on Grafton Street there is only one jeweller to begin with and that is Weir & Sons. The family run store was established on Grafton Street in 1869. The beautiful Weir & Sons building at 96 – 99 Grafton Street has become a landmark and an integral part of the street. The magnificent building houses exquisite displays containing thousands of jewels and watches; Weir & Sons has the largest selection of gold, diamonds and international brands of any other jeweller in Ireland. To visit the store and make a purchase or to receive a gift from the prestigious store is something special. It would be hard to find any woman who would not wish to receive a beautiful diamond engagement ring from Weir & Sons on Grafton Street.

For diamond lovers Appleby, the Dublin family jewellers has a vast selection of diamonds which are all ethically sourced and of the highest quality. The Irish jeweller promises to provide great diamonds and great value. Fields is yet another excellent Irish jeweller on Grafton Street, the jeweller is known for its beautiful designs along with its selection of well-known jewellery brands. At Fields you receive quality at an affordable price so you can purchase a beautiful piece of jewellery without having to worry about the cost.

Irish family run business R & C McCormack carries an excellent collection of Celtic jewellery. One of the most popular pieces of jewellery at the store is the Claddagh ring, it has a distinctive style of two hands clasped around a heart, surmounted by a crown symbolising love friendship and loyalty, making it a perfect gift for a friend or loved one. The ring is a popular piece among Irish people and those of Irish heritage. R & C McCormack have a wide selection of Celtic crosses and jewellery adorned with Celtic symbols, these beautiful designs are perfect mementos for travellers from abroad.

Grafton Street is also home to well-established jewellers Ernest Jones, John Brerton, Boodles and Rocks, all providing high quality and beautifully designed jewellery. World-renowned Swarovski is among the jewellers on Grafton Street, the Swarovski store is an ideal place to treat yourself or someone else. The wide selection of Swarovski crystal encrusted charms are a great idea for a beautiful gift with a personal touch.

Grafton Street is undoubtedly the premier street for jewellery in Dublin, you are certain to find that special piece you are looking for among the large selection of jewellers on the street.

Laura Finn

St. Stephen’s Green, a Place of Beauty and History

At the top of Grafton Street lies an idyllic escape from the noise and crowds of the city centre, the 22 acre St. Stephen’s Green park is filled with lush gardens, beautiful flower beds and a variety of sculptures and monuments. Having been enclosed in the seventeenth century the current formation of St. Stephen’s Green dates back to the year 1880. The Victorian park is a site of leisure and relaxation and is also a place to remember or to learn about significant people and events in Irish history. St. Stephen’s Green features a children’s playground, the large area was recently renovated and is a great place to keep children entertained. Another favourite of children visiting St. Stephen’s Green is to feed bread to the ducks in the park’s large lake. At the centre of the park there are two water fountains, the beautiful pieces both date back to 1880. The park also features a garden for the visually impaired, the sensory garden contains scented flowers and plants which are labelled in Braille. In the summer there are free lunchtime concerts at the park’s Victorian bandstand which create a great atmosphere and are enjoyed by both locals and visitors to the city. The bandstand located on the south green is the perfect location to relax with an ice cream or cold drink on a warm summer afternoon. At the Grafton Street entrance to the park stands the memorial arch of Wicklow which was erected in 1907, the arch is more commonly known as the Fusilier’s Arch after members of the Royal Dublin Fusilier’s who died in the 1899 – 1900 Boer War. The magnificent arch features the names of the 212 men who fell during the war in South Africa. The arch is referred to as the ‘Traitors Gate” as members of the Dublin Fusiliers were  fighting as a regiment of the British Army. St. Stephen’s Green is home to a statue of Theobald Wolfe Tone, the leader of the 1798 Rebellion against British rule in Ireland who is widely regarded as the father of Irish Republicanism. Surrounding the statue of Wolf  Tone is the Famine Memorial, a semicircle of stone pillars commemorating the Great Famine of the mid-nineteenth century. The park not only pays homage to historical Irish figures but the park itself was central to a significant event in Irish history. St. Stephen’s Green was a battleground during the 1916 Easter Rising in the struggle for Irish independence. During the Rising Irish rebels dug trenches along the perimeter of the park, and the park’s glasshouse was used as a First Aid station. The park houses a bust of Countess Markievicz who fought in St. Stephen’s Green, she eventually surrendered and was sentenced to death but this was lessened to life imprisonment because of her sex. However, Markievicz was released from Kilmainham Gaol and went on to be the first woman elected and to serve in Dáil Eireann. Bullet holes from the fighting during the Rising can still be found today on the Fusilier’s arch. The city centre park also celebrates Ireland’s rich literary history with statues and monuments of  great Irish literary figures. St. Stephen’s Green features a bust of Dublin writer James Joyce and a memorial garden featuring an abstract bronze statue for Irish poet W.B. Yeats. Whether you are in search of a relaxing afternoon to enjoy the beauty of the park and to catch some sun or if you’re looking to discover more about Irish history and significant Irish figures St. Stephen’s Green is the perfect location. Laura Finn

Fashion on Grafton Street

Grafton Street is the perfect location for shopping, with a wide variety of fashion stores catering for both those looking for designer labels and shoppers who want the best of high street fashion. Men, women and children will have no trouble finding what they are searching for in one of the many retail and department stores that line Dublin’s premier shopping street.

For those in search of the world’s biggest designer labels Brown Thomas is the place to go, from Alexander Mcqueen to Victoria Beckham Brown Thomas is the premier department store for designer fashion in Dublin. Top designer clothing for men, women and children are available at Grafton Street’s prestigious department store. Brown Thomas’s sister store BT2 provides the best in contemporary fashion with designer labels Guess, Marc by Marc Jacobs, Kurt Geiger and G – Star to name just a small selection of the vast number of designer brands available at the BT2 flagship store on Grafton Street.

Grafton Street also features Karen Millen’s large three-storey flagship store, perfect for women who want high quality, glamorous fashion. Irish owned Pamela Scott carry the best in designer women’s fashion stocking labels such as Olsen, Gerry Weber and Sophie B and many more international designer brands. Fellow Irish retailer and long time Grafton Street resident Richard Alan features designer brands Jaeger, Escada and Jessica Simpson to name just a few of the large selection of quality designer labels available at this prestigious Irish fashion store.

Ted Baker and Dalvey are designer brand stores on Grafton Street providing high quality, stylish clothing for men. Both stores are ideal for men searching for high-end shirts and blazers. Grafton Street is also home to a large Tommy Hilfiger store which carries a wide range of men’s clothing from the iconic American designer.

For those seeking the latest fashions at an affordable price there is an array of top high street stores providing great fashion at a great price. River Island is known for its stylish and original fashion at an affordable price. A wear is an Irish high street brand that has everything a fashion lover could want at a great price. The female shopper can also visit Wallis, Vero Moda or ONLY for stylish yet affordable clothes.

River Island menswear range is stylish and always on trend. Topman is another shop of choice for the fashion conscious male who wants to be at the forefront of fashion and be a trend setter while not having to pay a lot to do so. Grafton Street is also home to Ireland’s only American Apparel store which provides fashionable basics for both men and women. Perfect for students who want to stay comfortable while remaining stylish.

With all the top international designer brands, many of which are exclusive to Grafton Street and with the best selection of high street fashion stores Grafton Street is the perfect shopping location for all fashion lovers.

 

The History of Grafton Street, 1708 – Today

Grafton Street was established in 1708 by the Dawson’s, a wealthy Dublin family. The street was named after Henry Fitzroy, the first Duke of Grafton. It began as a residential street which was a popular address among Dublin’s more affluent citizens during the eighteenth century. In 1758 the famous Whytes Academy was established, an English Grammar School. Many prominent citizens attended the school for their primary education, including Thomas Moore, Robert Emmet and the Duke of Wellington.

In 1794 the Carlisle Bridge, now O’ Connell Bridge was constructed which allowed for passage from the north to the south side of the River Liffey. The bridge opened up the city and Dublin experienced a shopping boom with Grafton Street becoming a desirable location for merchants to sell their wares. By 1815 the majority of buildings had been converted from residential to retail units and by the end of the century Grafton Street was the top commercial street in the city. The street catered for the high-end of the market with a variety of fashion stores, jewellers, watch and clock makers and high quality food and wine merchants.

In 1849 drapers Hugh Brown and James Thomas opened Brown Thomas which has grown into Dublin’s most prestigious Department Store and has become an integral part of Grafton Street. In 1995 the store moved to its current location at 88 Grafton Street where its award winning window displays are a must-see. Another store which is still flourishing since it’s opening in the 1800s is Weir & Sons which first opened in 1869. Thomas Weir opened his jewellery shop at 5 Grafton Street, the business began to thrive and a larger premises was required so Weir & Sons moved to a prominent corner location at 96 Grafton Street. The glazed entrance from the previous store which reads “5 Grafton Street” remains part of the building to this day where the world’s finest jewellery and watches are sold inside this beautiful and historic building.

Grafton Street also became a place of leisure in the nineteenth century, many Dubliners socialised in the wide assortment of cafés and restaurants. In 1927 Bewley’s, now Dublin’s oldest and most famous café opened at 97-98 Grafton Street. Bewley’s on Grafton Street was a regular haunt for Irish literary greats such as James Joyce and Patrick Kavanagh, the cafe is mentioned in Joyce’s ‘Dubliners’. Sinead O’Connor and Bob Geldof are among the more recent famous patrons of this iconic café which is loved by Dubliners and visitors alike. The café design was inspired by oriental tearooms in Asia and Tutankhamen’s Tomb which was discovered just three years before the café opened provided the inspiration for the building’s facade. The exterior and interior of the iconic café are to be admired and perhaps most striking of all are the Grafton street café’s six stained glass windows which were commissioned by renowned artist Harry Clarke in 1931.

In 1979 cars were banned from the street and red paving was introduced which improved the experience of pedestrians. Being a car-free zone Grafton Street is the ideal location for street performers. From fire eaters and living statues to musicians and magicians there is something for everyone as they stroll through Dublin’s most famous street. Grafton Street has become renowned as a launch pad for many several successful musicians including Glen Hansard who won an Oscar for his song ‘Falling Slowly’ from the movie and now Broadway musical ‘Once’. Even U2 frontman Bono has performed on this famous street, what began as an impromptu gig on December 24th 2009 has become an annual event with the international rockstar returning to perform every year since. The talent and creativity of Grafton Street’s performers won’t fail to entertain any of those who are strolling through the street in the heart of Dublin.

The Molly Malone statue was erected on the corner of Grafton Street and Suffolk Street and was unveiled at the 1988 Dublin Millennium celebrations. The bronze statue commemorates the female fishmonger featured in the famous Dublin ballad, ‘Molly Malone’. The famous statue at the bottom of Grafton Street is the perfect spot to take a photograph while taking in the atmosphere of the Grafton Street area. Another famous bronze statue in the Grafton Street area is that of Thin Lizzy lead singer and bassist Phil Lynott, the statue of the ‘Boys are Back in Town’ singer was unveiled in August 2005

Today, Grafton Street is home to an array of well-known international brands yet, with its long history and iconic Irish businesses Grafton Street remains distinct from any other shopping street in the world.

Laura Finn

Do you know the Pigeon Man?

Grafton Street is renowned for its creative and entertaining street performers. One of Grafton Street’s best known performers is the living statue known as the ‘Pigeon Man’ who delights and intrigues the people on Grafton Street with his ability to attract pigeons down from the surrounding rooftops to land on him.

This short film gives a personal insight into the life of the man behind the mask and how performing on Grafton Street has enabled him to turn his life around.

Laura Finn