Central Dublin's busiest street is a far cry from the original vision of its owner, an 18th century aristocrat named Luke Gardiner. He dreamed of building a peaceful area of residential structures, surrounding the quiet serenity of a tree-studded mall. His vision was altered in 1790, when the Carlisle Bridge -- today known as the O'Connell Bridge -- was built. The connection turned the street into the main artery of historical Dublin as well as the modern city of today.
Monuments and Buildings
An imposing statue of Daniel O'Connell, known as "The Liberator" overlooks the street and bridge that bear his name. O' Connell was widely known and respected for his work as a member of parliament in the mid 1800's, and his success in securing the emancipation of the Catholics of Ireland. His statue still bears bullet marks received during the firefights of the 1916 Easter Rising, which took place in the surrounding buildings, notably the GPO (General Post Office). All along O'Connell Street, you can see established symbols of Irish culture and business, including department stores such as Clery's and Eason, the Gresham Hotel, and monuments dedicated to modern era freedom fighters like O'Connell, James Larkin, leader of the Dublin General Strike of 1913. At the north end of the street stands the Charles Stewart Parnell obelisk monument, dedicated to the memory of the leader of Ireland's Home Rule Party from 1846-1891.
The Dublin Spire
Perhaps the most striking feature of O'Connell Street however is the The Spire, a stainless steel monument that looks like a giant pin, stretching 121.2 metres (398 ft) into the air. The Spire was erected in 2003, as part of a municipal effort to revive the image of Dublin's main street, which had become run-down, with fast-food restaurants and bargain shops proliferating.
While O'Connell Street is still not a major shopping street, it is still considered the very centre of the city, and it connects directly with busy shopping thoroughfares such as Mary Street and Henry Street, and just one tram stop away from the Jervis Shopping Centre.
O'Connell Street. Image by Alessandro Grussu.