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Dublin 7

Bernard Neary
The Lilliput Press



From Chapter 1

The postal district of Dublin 7 encompasses a significant area and is one of the oldest inhabited regions of Ireland's capital city. It is home to some of the finest buildings in the country, including the Four Courts, Broadstone Railway Station, Kings Inns, the Incorporated Law Society, Mater Hospital and St Peter's Church. The area enclosed by the postal boundary includes Ashtown, Cabra, Grangegorman, Phibsborough and Smithfield. In pre-Christian times the district witnessed cavalcades passing from the north, over the ford on the River Liffey at Atha Cliath and on into Wicklow. For many centuries one of the great roads from the royal seat of Tara, County Meath to the monastic city of Glendalough in County Wicklow, passed through Cabragh, over Bothar na gCloch, the Stony Road, now Stoneybatter, into Fercullen and on to the Dublin and Wicklow moun­tains. Stoneybatter is one of the oldest highways in Europe.

Cabra formerly covered a vast area, stretching from present-day North Circular Road to Glasnevin in the east, Castleknock and Blanchardstown to the west and Fingal to the north. It comprised two districts, Much Cabragh and Little Cabragh and was divided by the great forest Salcock's Wood, which extended west from Dalymount Park to Infirmary Road and north to Cabra Cross, at the city end of Ratoath Road. It was here in Salcock's Wood that the O'Toole clan, on their return home after a marauding expedition to Finglas, were intercepted and attacked by the citizens of Dublin. The citizens, well-armed but ill-trained, were routed by the O'Tooles. From the eleventh to the thirteenth century Cabragh was well outside the city boundary and was not populated to any great extent, with only a few families living in the area.

At the close of the thirteenth century King Edward I granted the 'ploughland of Ballygossan alias Cabragh Hill' to the Prior of Holmpatrick. From an early period the Prior of Ballybogan possessed several lands and tenements here, which the king then presented to William Stockenbregge of Dublin 'for many favours received'. In 1609 Henry Pierse had a grant of the towns, villages and lands of Much and Little Cabragh, containing 240 acres and therein stated to have been 'parcel of the possessions of St Mary's Abbey'.

The failed Fenian revolt of 1867 resulted in the trial of those leaders taken prisoner, at Green Street Courthouse. Many were deported to Australia. Following those trials, over 300,000 people took part in a mass meeting at Cabra in October 1869, in a field between the Royal Canal and Finglas Road. It was called to demand the release of Fenian prisoners. Isaac Butt chaired the meeting, and at that time he lived in 64 Eccles Street. The following account of that public meeting is taken from the Illustrated London News of 23 October 1869:

Fenian Amnesty Meeting at Dublin: The great open-air meeting got up by the 'Amnesty Association' of Dublin to pass resolutions demanding the liberation of the Fenian conspirators and insurgents now in prison was mentioned in our last week's news. It was held in a field in a place named Cabra, in the neighbourhood of the city, on Sunday week, at two o'clock in the afternoon. The Dublin Police Commissioners had issued a notice that no party procession through the streets would be allowed; in consequence of which the managers of Amnesty Association deter­mined to give up their plan of a general demonstration within the city and directed that the flags and banners should not be displayed 'til the place of meeting was reached. But this order was imperfectly observed.

Trade Unions and various other societies marched separately from Ormond Quay or Sackville Street, through Cavendish-row, Frederick-street and Berkeley-street and along the North Circular Road, with their banners and bands of music, all the people wearing green sashes and rosettes, or green hat-bands, while some had green mixed with orange colour. Each trade guild was headed by an open carriage or car, drawn by four horses, and about thirty trades were represented. They began to come on the ground and at ten o'clock the whole number of people was reckoned by tens of thousands. Mr Isaac Butt, Q.C., was in the chair; and the speakers were Mr G.H. Moore, M.P. for Mayo; Mr Hickey of Castlebar; the Rev. Mr Leverett of Tyrone; Mr G. Russell of Limerick; and Mr Hugh O'Donnell, President of the Dublin Trades Association. The proceedings were orderly and quiet.

The monster meeting had a significant political and historical impact in that it turned the nation against the long-established British practice of forced deporta­tion. Although public opinion in the eastern states of Australia had brought about the demise of deportation by the early 1860s, the western seaboard of that vast continent had, by a State government policy decision of i860, decided to open its doors to deportees. It was to here, the remote and barren lands of Western Australia, that John Boyle O'Reilly and other Fenians of the failed Rising of 1867 were sent. The turning of the tide following the massive show of support at the Cabra meeting sounded the death knell for forced deportation and a few years later the State Government of Western Australia reversed its policy of accepting convict labour, the last of the Australian States to so do.

The area covered by the Dublin 7 postal district figured prominently in the years of unrest leading up to the granting of Irish independence in 1922. The collapse of decrepit tenement houses in Church Street in early 1913, though not a catalyst for the strikes and historic Lockout of that year, provided a backdrop to it. The trade union leader James Larkin, a key figure in events of that year, was then living at 27 Auburn Street, Phibsborough with his wife and three sons, paying a weekly rent of nine shillings out of a salary of £2 2s. od. a week. Of even greater significance was the part played by many in the district, and the events occurring there, during the Easter Rising of 1916.