WHAT THE CAMPAIGN IS ABOUT
The conservation, appropriate restoration and revitalisation of a quarter of great national and international historical importance: a WW1 and 1916 Battleground and the oldest surviving open-air street market in Dublin.
The area under consideration in Dublin’s northside city centre is bounded by Parnell Street to the north and Henry Street to the south, with Moore St to the west and Moore Lane to the East, comprising apart from those streets also Henry Place and O’Rahilly Parade.
On Monday 24th April 1916 a number of revolutionary forces in Dublin jointly staged an uprising against the centuries-old British occupation and colonisation of Ireland, a rising with social aspirations in addition to ones of national liberation and a blow also against imperialist war. The HQ of those forces was in the General Post Office and surrounding area.
British forces surrounded the city centre and bombarded it, starting fires which encroached on the GPO itself, necessitating its evacuation on Friday 28th, most of the women escorting the wounded to Jervis Street Hospital and the remainder entering Moore Street in two main groups. One group under Volunteer Michael O’Rahilly led a charge up Moore Street against a British Army barricade on Parnell Street which was suppressed by machine-gun and rifle fire, leaving a number dead including its leader, writing a last letter to his wife as he lay dying from five bullet wounds. A monument in the street where he died, now named O’Rahilly Parade, records his last words in his own handwriting.
The major group entered the south end of a terrace, No.10 Moore Street and proceeded to tunnel from house to house through the terrace until reaching No.25 and the laneway where the O’Rahilly died. This group included five of the seven Signatories of the 1916 Proclamation: Patrick Pearse, James Connolly, Tom Clarke, Sean McDermott, Joseph Plunkett – all of which were executed later by the British Army firing squad, as was Willie Pearse, who was also in Moore Street. Three women were among them: Volunteers Elizabeth O’Farrell, Julia Grenan and Winifred Carney.
Unwilling to bring down further British artillery bombardment on the civilians in the city as they broke out, the leadership in the middle of the Moore St. terrace decided to surrender and from there Vol. Elizabeth O’Farrell went out to negotiate with General Lowe, commanding the forces in Dublin suppressing the Rising, later accompanied by Pearse who formally surrendered.
Moore Street contained then representatives of all or nearly all of the varied forces in the Rising and the decision to surrender was taken there. Although the Rising was undermined and confined to Dublin and defeated in six days, it was inspirational for continuing resistance and led to independentists sweeping the board in the 1918 UK General Election and War of Independence less than three years after the Rising, which in turn resulted in the creation of the Irish Free State.
The Quarter represents a number of historical points of international importance:
- The last location of the HQ of the 1916 Rising and site of decision to surrender a number of other battlegrounds
- and of the last place of freedom of five of the Seven Signatories of the Proclamation
- and of six of the 16 (14 in Dublin) executed by the British for their part in the Rising.
- A 1916 Rising battleground with original streetscape and terrace structure, including pre 1916 buildings
- Location in which all (Hibernian Rifles???) of the organisations participating in the Rising were represented: Irish Republican Brotherhood, Irish Citizen Army, Cumann na mBan, Irish Volunteers, Na Fianna Éireann, Hibernian Rifles
- Battleground under the youngest Commandant in the Rising (Sean McLoughlin, promoted on the battlefield)
- Site of deaths of Volunteers and of civilians under British Army fire
- also of a Rising that inspired rebellion against empires around the world
- and of a major uprising against the imperialist WW1 (preceding those of Russia and Germany)
- also of participation of the first worker’s army
- and first women’s insurrectionary military organisation
- and first uprising with a Proclamation to address itself formally to both men and women
OLDEST DUBLIN STREET MARKET
There have been open-air street markets in the vicinity of the Quarter and the 3rd Earl of Drogheda, Henry Moore, had a number of streets laid in the area, modestly naming them all after himself: Henry Street, Henry Place, Moore Street, Moore Lane, Of Lane (no longer in existence), Drogheda Street (forerunner of north Sackville St, now O’Connell Street) and North Earl Street. Moore Market was formerly established with an entrance from Moore Street (next to where Troy’s Butchers is now located).
Over the years the market stalls and shops extended into the formerly residential Moore Street, which then became the hub of a network of market laneways now buried under the ILAC shopping centre, Dunnes Stores and the Debenhams building. Moore Street was considered by many the heart of Dublin; here mostly women ran the stalls, often with babies beside them in prams, which would later support a breadboard on top, bearing the produce to be sold.
As well as vegetables and fruit, first and second-hand furniture and shoes were sold in the quarter, crockery and cutlery too, along with fresh meat from many butcher shops (indeed originally an abattoir was here too) and fish, fresh bread, fried fish and chips …. The UK’s first skin clinic was located here and Dublin’s first bodybuilding gym (now here again, run by a Polish man) and a pedicure service was in business prior to the Covid19 Lockdown. A barbershop was here too, a number of cafés, restaurants and pubs kept the area lively well into the evening.
Many films and documentaries have been made on this street and famous or would-be-famous people have had their photographs taken – or been filmed – here. Along with the Irish butchers and fruit and vegetable stall, the street now has a multi-ethnic feel, with shops selling phones or food from various parts of South and Eastern Asia, along with hair treatment shops of African origin. However, it was always that to an extent, with Italian and European Jewish migrant shops in the past.
The demolition of much of the area to make way for shopping centres and supermarkets has not been to the long-term advantage of the street market and when the ILAC extended further into Moore Street it displaced many small retail businesses and killed the “market feel” to the west-central side of the street. The east-central and both sides of the southern end of the street maintain that “feel” and contain also a number of architectural features of interest, most buildings being of pre-1916 origin on the west side and including two buildings of “Dutch Billy” architecture, most likely of Huguenot origin.
WHO WE ARE
We are a group of men and women of varying backgrounds campaigning for the conservation and appropriate restoration of the historical and cultural site and the preservation of an open air market surrounded by small independent retail outlets and eateries. We are completely independent of any political party or organisation or of State funding (public donations and our own pockets are our only source of funding).
The broader campaign, though at that time focused on the preservation of only one building, dates back to 2002 and over the years has seen many changes of activists and of positions. Although activists of ours were involved in the general campaign earlier, the SMSFD group was formed in September 2014 specifically to prevent the proposed swap of buildings owned by the property speculator in the centre of the historic terrace for two buildings owned by Dublin City Council at the north end of the terrace (Nos.24, 25). We set up a weekly stall on Saturdays, collected signatures to a petition. After the achievement of that objective in November of that year, when the majority of elected councillors vote to reject the proposal, the activists in the group decided to continue until the overall objectives had been met.
Learning of the intended demolition of three buildings of the 1916 Terrace in January 2016, we organised two emergency demonstrations during weekdays in Moore Street, which led to a week-long occupation of the buildings to prevent their demolition and a High-Court injunction against any demolition until a court case about the buildings were settled (on 18th March 2016 the High Court declared the whole quarter a national historical monument but in February 2017 the decision was overturned on appeal by the Minister of Heritage).
Since our founding date we have been on the street with our stall every Saturday except during the Covid-19 Level 5 lockdown, distributed thousands of leaflets and collected hundreds of thousands of petition signatures, which we have formally presented to three different Dublin City Mayors (in all-Irish language events). Some of our activists participated in the daily six-week blockade against contractors in 2016, conducted free history tours for adults and children; we have organised concerts, public meetings, demonstrations, pickets, lobbies, spoke in public, produced badges, participated in demonstrations organised by others, in historical re-enactments, in mock funerals …. Although we were excluded from its membership, we also presented submissions on the importance of the Battlefield and Market Quarter to the Minister of Heritage’s Advisory Group on Moore Street. We participate actively since its inception in the Lord Mayor’s Forum on Moore Street and were an active part of its sub-group, the Market Expert Group.
We want what most people do, a vibrant varied street market of open-air stalls and small independent shops mainly selling fresh food, eateries, bakery, pubs, with an appropriate and sensitive renovation of the historical buildings and laneways which have been allowed to deteriorate, a shopping and socialising space revitalising the north Dublin city centre by day and by evening. Along with most people we want an appropriate focus on the momentous historical events of the 1916 Rising and on the variety of motivations that drove its participants and martyrs.
The most important contribution you can make to the campaign is to be our media, sharing our updates on your social media from time to time, reaching people we cannot and which the mass media will not.