I’ve kicked off this study Dublin 1 – an area that I really only associated with shopping and unfortunately – crime before now. The weather was thankfully on my side, washing the docklands over with a fine mist of sun as I worked my way down as far as Castleforbes road to start my survey. I was aware that there were no cottages down here but I wanted to walk the area that was only reclaimed from the water around 1717 and was originally used as industrial space for heavy industry like docklands, timber yards and glass making.
A little history of Dublin 1
Originally Dublin 1 would have been one of the most fashionable districts of the city thanks to the efforts of the Gardiner Estate. Amiens Street and North Strand road would have waterfront streets and Ballybough beyond it filled with rolling fields as depicted in Joyce’s the Dubliners (book of the year in the excellent scheme One city, One book in case anyone has not read it!). Streets like North Great Georges Street, Henrietta Street, Buckingham Street and of course Mountjoy Square were the height of sophistication before the decline of industrialisation brought large crowds to the city and the fashionable elite began to ebb out to the suburbs and leave their stately homes to be rented.
The decline was a number of factors, starting with the Act of Union which moved parliament to London and denied Dublin the ‘court’. Thereafter, Catholic Emancipation and the Famine both had their effects, as the rural masses poured into Dublin, seeking work and relief.
- Many thanks to Deirdre Durban for this contribution!
Over time, the homes fell into disrepair and more and more families were packed into the dwellings as no new development was taking place to house the influx of workers and so the infamous Tenements were born. This is a story repeated around many parts of the city but it almost feels as if parts of Dublin 1 have never truly recovered from the century of abandon and poverty, with a high proportion of the remaining stock of Georgian buildings still segmented into impossibly small living spaces.
Though it is likely that cottage style dwellings were on the land prior to the construction of the grander architecture, there is no evidence of their existence either in the Archives or on the streets. No doubt estates like Aldborough and Gardiner had workers cottages on the land but there is little documented on this. What did emerge though were a new breed of cottages – not quite vernacular as they would have been built with at the very least a sketchy plan and in some cases were designed by architects and overseen by benevolent associations in an effort to alleviate the tenement crisis. Some industrialists built rows of cottages in the land adjoining their homes to house their workers in slightly better conditions but with time overcrowding and poor sanitation caused these cottages to become areas of extreme poverty. Most have simply disappeared with little photographic or physical evidence remaining.
It is my hope that by outlining the existing stock of cottages in the area and hopefully unearthing some clues as to the older stock – locals, historians, community groups and/or anyone with information will come forward and contribute their knowledge, photography, stories etc… to the project so I can document as much of this living history as possible. With every year that passes more and more of this history disappears with the people who have lived it and it is my sincere hope that I can in some way create a record of their existence and the existence of the everyday workers and their homes in Dublin City.
Green pins are cottages featured in the study
View Dublin City Cottages – D 1.1 in a larger map
The Dublin Artisan’s Dwelling Company built several workers dwellings in the Seville Place area around 1889 on the grounds of the old Vinegar Works.
Just off Seville Place is are the adventurously named First Avenue, Second Avenue, Third Avenue and Fourth Avenue.
First Avenue has the largest of the dwellings – terraced, two story, two or perhaps three bedroomed houses that featured plain rectangular fanlights, slight curving detail over the ground floor door and window and plain straight windows on the first floor. The roofs are slate with two chimney pots per house and external plain guttering. One lovely nod back to older times is the inclusion of a boot scraper built into the wall to the side of each doorway in each of the avenues in this development.
These cottages differ slightly from the Dublin Artisan Dwelling Companies documented plans in that they have an additional window over the doorway. I am unsure of what the original interior layout is so I would love if someone could let me know or send me a floor plan so I can clarify what plan they are based on.
Second Avenue contains 17 single story cottages with two windows to one side of the door. Again they have the plain rectangular fanlight over the door the same boot scraper near the front door.
These cottages are the Dublin Artisans Dwelling Companies Type E cottage – a small internal porch leads you into the main living room with two small bedrooms off one side and a small scullery to the back of the cottage with a door leading out to a small enclosed yard with an outdoor toilet and coal bunker. Many of these have been converted into one bedroomed cottages and extended to include a kitchen and indoor bathroom.
Third Avenue is a mix of Second and Fourth Avenue with the larger Type E – double windowed cottages to the south west of the street while on the north east the cottages are smaller with only one window to the front – Type A. It is in these smaller cottages that we can see the original glazing in numbers 50 and 52 – relatively ornate smaller panes create an attractive façade to an otherwise plain cottage. Unfortunately these have been removed from most of the cottages to make way for double glazing.
Fourth avenue is 15 small single story, one bedroomed terraced cottages in the same style as the north east of second avenue. Here the original window details remain on numbers 60, 61, 63 and 64 and will hopefully be retained. It is a shorter street and with the small size of the cottages it comes across as quite unassumingly charming.
These are the smallest of all of the Dublin Artisans Dwelling Companies cottage types – Type A. The plan is a small internal porch entry to the main living room area which extends the entire width of the property with the fireplace situated on the party wall and adjacent to the bedroom wall. The bedroom is behind the living room with a chamferd entrance doorway and a window overlooking the yard. The hallway run alongside the bedroom and leads to the scullery and through the back door out into the yard which contains the outside toilet and coal bunker. Space is certainly a premium in this style of cottage and it would be interesting to see how they have been adapted to deal with the necessary kitchen and indoor bathroom
There are three cottage/houses built here as part of the same development so they are worth mentioning. They are in the exact same style as those on First Avenue with the external walls rendered and the slight curvature over the ground floor door and window.
Again I am unsure which of the Dublin Artisan Dwelling Companies cottages they adhere to so I would like to know more about the internal layout.
On a short stretch of street there are three different styles of cottages built adjoining each other. The first – numbers 25 to 21 are larger cottage style dwellings, with brick facades and brick detailing around the doors and over the windows. On numbers 24 to 21 the brick detailing is the same brick as the walls but on number 25 the detailing is in redbrick with the door detailing in the railway cottage fashion and the fanlight is a plain rectangular fanlight. Numbers 24 to 21 have plain semi-circular fanlights over the door and rounded brick detailing surrounding them. The roofs are slate with a parapet to the front to obscure the guttering. The chimney details are also similar on numbers 24 to 21 with 25 slightly more contemporary. Despite these differences, the four cottages are similar with similar stone coining details at the end of numbers 25 and 21 to give a book end feel to the terrace.
Numbers 21 and 20 are in a style similar to those on Fourth Avenue – Type A – smaller cottages with plain rectangular fanlights, exposed guttering and would have originally have been brick facades though number 20 has been dashed.
The last two cottages seem to blend the styles of numbers 25 to 21 with the two story dwellings on First Avenue. They are two story, brick construction with squared windows and redbrick detailing around the door, yet the detailing over the windows is the same as numbers 24-21 and they also have the parapet detail those cottages and the brick shared chimney with four flues for each dwelling – twice that of each house on First Avenue. What an odd combination – perhaps they were learning what worked visually and spatially as they built – I would love to know which of these cottages were built first!
There are two cottages remaining on the main street of Seville Place beside the funeral home. They are built in a style similar to numbers 21-25 Coburg Street with a parapet disguising the guttering, same brown stone with detailing around the plain semicircular fanlight over the door. These cottages are single story over basement with the basements large enough to count the dwellings as two storys but for the purposes of this study I will include them as single story over basement. Access to the basement is under the stone staircase that accesses the main door and there is one large front window on both the basement and upper levels.
The top of the building is built in traditional stone while the basement sections are smooth rendered over blockwork. On the right hand side the cottages are attached to a redbrick Georgian building and are semi-detached on the left hand side which allows me to see that they are quite deep. To keep the profile of the roof low, the pitch of the roof is repeated with a valley between for run off water and again the guttering is obscured in the design.
I don’t know much of the history of these two cottages – who built them, when, and the plan layouts so if anyone knows any of this information I would be delighted if they could let me know!
Seville Place – Other buildings
Despite the fact that this survey is on Cottages, it is impossible to leave these areas without including some of the other architecture on the street. In particular the large brown stone buildings that cap off the end of the Avenues. The building materials and detailing are the same as those used on the brown stone cottages on the same street and on Coburg Street so they were most likely built around or at the same time and by the same company/developer. They are three story buildings, the first two storys with large windows and the upper or garret with the typically smaller windows.
The convent building on the intersection of Seville Place and St. Laurence Place East is a stunning three story over basement, double fronted building that has been maintained by the religious orders. These days the religious orders can be thought of in a negative light but the fate of a lot of the beautiful architecture in Dublin City and further afield would be significantly worse if they were not being maintained so beautifully by them.
Here is a lovely quick account of the history of the building from Turtle Bunbury’s website
The Sisters of Charity
The merchant William Meagher, Lord Mayor of Dublin and Home Rule MP for Meath had his townhouse on Lower Sheriff Street in 1884. However, as the 20th century approached, North Wall was slowly evolving into one of the more impoverished inner city landscapes in Dublin. The tenement houses on Guild Street, Sheriff Street and Nixon Street were becoming dangerously overcrowded. Seville Place remained relatively prosperous, populated by naval pensioners, businessmen, lawyers and, latterly, artists. When Lord Aberdeen and the Lord Mayor went on a tour of Dublin City in April 1886, they visited ‘the extensive improvements being carried out in Seville Place’. Mary Aikenhead’s Religious Sisters of Charity opened their pretty red-brick Convent of St Laurence O’ Toole on Seville Place in November 1882. From here, the sisters visited the poor and sick, ran a primary school at East Wall, and served dinners from their large dining hall to poor men. In conjunction with the Catholic Social Service Committee, expectant mothers were also given nutritious dinners. The Sisters conducted a combined hostel for nuns and ‘business girls’, and a second one for girls out of employment. By Edwardian times, the Sisters were providing the celebrated ‘St. Anthony’s penny dinners’ to the poor. In 2003, the Sisters combined force with the North Inner City Drugs Task Force (NICDTF) to establish the Deora Project to provide counselling for those suffering loss as a result of bereavement, suicide and/or addiction.
Please feel free to comment on any aspect of the project, if there is incorrect information I would be delighted to hear the correct version and amend the article. My hope is to actively promote community participation so I can gather as much information as possible.
The next article on Dublin 1 will be published next Wednesday.