Visitors to Dublin can get caught up in the tide of tourists that flows around the hot spots like Trinity College and its Book of Kells. They dip in and dip out of the tidal pools neatly mapped on the hop-on-hop-off bus tours. They sip their way through the Guinness Hop Store and the various distilleries around the city each selling a liquid taste of Irishness.  And yes, there’s plenty to do, and even more to see. But there’s another side of Dublin, the backstreets, the ‘burbs, the lived-in places like Dublin 7 that are more than worth a wander.

Heading to the fab Slice of Cake for breakfast on Sunday morning (56 Manor Pl, Stoneybatter, Dublin 7), I went for a wander and found myself oohing and aahing like a love-struck tourist. There are some amazing buildings in the ‘hood and as I engaged in fantasies of winning the EuroMillions and buying a terraced cottage around the corner from Lucky Lane, I realised that neighbourhoods like these are gems just waiting to be discovered.

Terraced houses in Dublin 7

Cafés, bars, and restaurants line the streets while terraced houses speak to generations past who must be turning in their graves at the thoughts of the €300 000+ their 50-60 sqm former homes are commanding. These two-bedroom terraced houses ain’t cheap. But they have everything on their doorstep.

Stanhope Street school Dublin 7

Once a home for orphan girls, the Stanhope Street House of Refuge is now St Joseph’s School  for Girls. Dating back to the early 1800s, the gardens of the building have been likened to an oasis in the heart of the city. The 1970s monstrosity that extended the school leaves me wondering where the planners were that week, but perhaps the mix of styles simply reflects the student mix – 40% are of international orgin – and indeed that of the city in general.

Manor Street Dublin 7

I was more than intrigued by a banner calling for equality for all pollinators. On further investigation, it turns out that Bí URBAN has a master plan to

…create a green corridor that will connect the Botanic Gardens with the Liffey in Dublin 7, providing an amenity for the public and a living laboratory where DIT [Dublin Institute of Technology] can study the importance of nature in the urban environment.

What’s not to like?

Blackhall Place Dublin 7Closer to the River Liffey sits the magnificent building that is Blackhall Place, HQ of the Law Society of Ireland. For about 200 years, up till 1968, this was home to

a charitable school for boys of poor families […] called the Hospital and Free School of King Charles II, Dublin. It became known as the King’s Hospital or Blue Coat School because of the boys’ military-style blue uniform.

Carmichael House Dublin 7

Over on North Brunswick Street, also in Dublin 7, I stopped outside Carmichael House. From this impressive building, once the Doctors’ residence for the nearby Richmond Hospital, 48 charities operate. From Alcohol Action Ireland to Young Horizons and everything in between, the centre has been in operation since 2011.

Carmichael Centre KnowledgeNET brings together a full spectrum of management and governance knowledge needed to run Irish Not For Profit organisations.

What a resource.

Richmond Hospital Dublin 7

Photo: S Jacobs

But my vote for the day went the old Richmond Hospital itself. This stunningly gorgeous building was on the market in 2013 for €3.5 million. I didn’t have the money then, and I don’t have the money now, but wow …. what a place to live.  Back when it first opened as a hospital in 1901 (for the 100 years before that it had been a convent), there was one window for each bed. When the hospital closed, five of the Dublin courts moved in and operated from here until 2011. Some nasty rumours are going around that it might end up as a casino!

Richmond Hospital Dublin 7

Lisa Cassidy posted this 6 years ago on BuiltDublin.com:

I’m drawn to it by the roofline, the copper roofs tapering to a stack of ornaments, the little finials on the gables of each wing, the curves of the ridge line on the pitched roofs and the chimneys popping up throughout. The double loggias (covered galleries open to air on one side) on the ward blocks seem like useful facilities, outside without being outside, and covered outdoor spaces are to be welcomed in this climate. It’s a big, striking, formal building, and I would love very much to see the interior.

Me, too. I’d love to get a look inside. This is the sort of touristy thing I like to do. Wander and wonder.

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