Discover the Intriguing History Behind Dublin’s O’Connell Street

Dublin boasts many iconic landmarks, and O’Connell Street is undoubtedly one of its crown jewels. This bustling thoroughfare, officially known as Sráid Uí Chonaill in Irish, winds its way through the city’s heart, connecting the picturesque O’Connell Bridge in the south to the vibrant Parnell Street in the north. In this article, we’ll unveil the fascinating history of Dublin’s O’Connell Street.

From Drogheda Street to Sackville Street

The tale of O’Connell Street begins in the 17th century when it was a narrow road known as Drogheda Street, named after Henry Moore, the 1st Earl of Drogheda. However, it underwent a significant transformation in the late 18th century, thanks to the Wide Streets Commission, which expanded and beautified the street. It was during this time that the street acquired the name “Sackville Street” in honour of Lionel Sackville, the 1st Duke of Dorset.

The Renaming in Honor of Daniel O’Connell

But the street’s most significant transformation occurred in 1924 when it was renamed in tribute to Daniel O’Connell, a prominent nationalist leader from the early 19th century. A striking statue of Daniel O’Connell by John Henry Foley graces the lower end of the street, facing the majestic O’Connell Bridge.

O’Connell Street’s Age-Old Legacy

Throughout its existence, O’Connell Street has played a pivotal role in Irish history. It has been the backdrop to numerous historic events, including the 1913 Dublin lock-out gatherings, the 1916 Easter Rising, the Irish Civil War of 1922, the destruction of Nelson’s Pillar in 1966, and the Dublin Riots in 2006. Each of these events has left an indelible mark on the street’s rich tapestry.

The Prominent Monuments

O’Connell Street is not just a thoroughfare; it’s a living museum of Irish history and culture. As you stroll down this iconic street, you’ll encounter several significant monuments, including statues of Daniel O’Connell and James Larkin, a renowned trade union leader. However, the most prominent of them all is the Spire of Dublin, often referred to as the Monument of Light, soaring to a towering height of 120 meters.

What to Visit on O’Connell Street

O’Connell Street is a treasure trove of historic monuments that encapsulates Irish heritage and resilience. Here are the notable landmarks to explore along this iconic street:

  1. The Spire of Dublin: A visit to O’Connell Street would be incomplete without gazing in awe at the Spire of Dublin. This towering needle-like masterpiece graces the city’s skyline and offers breathtaking panoramic views of the bustling metropolis.
  1. William Smith O’Brien: The statue of William Smith O’Brien, an influential Irish nationalist leader, stands as a lasting testament to his enduring legacy and unwavering commitment to the Irish cause.
  1. Sir John Grey: Sir John Grey’s statue stands tall, commemorating his contributions to journalism and his passionate advocacy for social reform, leaving an indelible mark on Ireland’s history.
  1. Father Theobald Mathew: Known as the “Apostle of Temperance,” Father Mathew is honoured with a statue for his tireless dedication to promoting sobriety and temperance, a vital aspect of Irish culture.
  1. Jim Larkin: James Larkin’s statue pays homage to his pivotal role as a trade union leader and his relentless fight for workers’ rights, symbolising the strength and unity of the Irish labour movement.
  1. Charles Stewart Parnell: A prominent political leader, Charles Parnell is fondly remembered for his instrumental role in Ireland’s struggle for autonomy, a legacy that continues to inspire generations.
  1. Daniel O’Connell: Towering proudly over the street, the statue of Daniel O’Connell serves as an enduring tribute to his unwavering dedication to Irish nationalism, making it a poignant symbol of the nation’s historic journey.

Where History Parties with Irish Hospitality

Now, let’s talk about Brannigans on Cathedral Street, Dublin, where history parties with Irish hospitality. Since the 1800s, this iconic spot has been at the heart of Dublin’s charm. Once known as Elephant Lane (yes, elephants!), this place has stories as colourful as the city itself. It even played host to Dublin’s very first elephant, tragically meeting its fiery end in 1681.

Back in 1854, it was the Post Office Tavern, but the real fun began in the 1930s when it joined the GAA fan club, thanks to Tommy Moore. He was the bigwig at Faughs GAA Club for an incredible four decades, earning a spot in the Hall of Fame and having a trophy named after him. Winning teams always stopped here for a celebratory pint. Later, it transformed into ‘The Goalpost,’ keeping the GAA love alive.

And now? It’s ‘Lugs’ Brannigan’s turf. This legendary Garda (cop) wasn’t just a lawman; he was a boxing legend and a Dublin icon. Cross him, and you might get a black eye.

Come visit us for traditional Irish food, refreshing drinks, and more, and experience the spirit of Dublin! 

Brannigans is one of Dublin’s best pubs, where history, culture, and Irish cheer make every visit a party. Our gastro pub in the heart of O’Connell Street, Dublin, welcomes you to savour one of the oldest pubs in Dublin, serving the best pub food in the city.

Frequently Asked Questions

  1. Why is O’Connell Street called by that name?

O’Connell Street was renamed in 1924 in honour of Daniel O’Connell, a renowned nationalist leader of the early 19th century. His statue stands proudly at the lower end of the street, facing O’Connell Bridge.

  1. What is the most famous monument on O’Connell Street?

The most famous monument on O’Connell Street is the Spire of Dublin, also known as the Monument of Light, which stands at an impressive height of 120 meters.

  1. How old is O’Connell Street in Dublin?

O’Connell Street’s history dates back to the 17th century when it was first developed by Henry Moore, the 3rd Earl of Drogheda. It has been a pivotal part of Dublin’s history for centuries.

  1. Are there bullet holes in O’Connell Street’s monuments?

Yes, remnants of the 1916 Rising and the Civil War of 1922/23 are still visible in the form of round bullet holes on some of the statues and monuments along O’Connell Street.

  1. What is the significance of Brannigans on Cathedral Street?

Brannigans, located on Cathedral Street, has a long and rich history in Dublin folklore. It was once known as the Post Office Tavern and later became a hub for the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA) under the proprietorship of Thomas ‘Tommy’ Moore. In the late 1990s, it was renamed in honour of local legend James ‘Lugs’ Brannigan, a distinguished Garda and boxer.