Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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From 'Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyageby Turtle Bunbury (MPG, 2008).

When Trinity College was founded in 1592, the lands directly to its north comprised of marshy swamp and an old hospice from which pilgrims set forth on pilgrimages to Compostella . In the following century, the first steps were taken to control the river and reclaim the land. By 1715, the Protestant Ascendancy were securely in power and the Dublin merchants began walling both sides of the river. John Mercer died before he could complete his dreams along City Quay but Sir John Rogerson’s quay was to have a profound effect on the shaping of the city, enabling the creation of the South Lotts. The evolution was slow but by the mid 19th century, the South Quays were teeming with industry. In Victorian times, the railways and tenement houses arrived practically hand-in-hand as the lands around the Grand Canal Docks developed into a hive of chemical factories and coal-yards. Bindon Blood Stoney’s diving bell, used to rebuild the quay walls in the 1880s, stands today on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay. Among the influential souls associated with the area were Daniel O’Connell, Oscar Wilde, Padraig Pearse and the Italian fish and chips guru Giuseppe Cervi. Activity along the quays continued a-pace through the 20th century but inevitably began to wane with the advent of containerisation and deeper berthing options in Dublin Port. When the Guinness ships ceased mooring along City Quay in 1993, it was truly the end of an era. However, four years later, the arrival of the Dublin Docklands Development Authority on Sir John Rogerson’s Quay set in motion a new epoch, which has already had a profound and extremely positive impact on the surrounding inner city. The ongoing refurbishment of the campshires has been further boosted by the two new bridges, named for Seán O’Casey and Samuel Beckett. For the hundreds of thousands who stroll through Dublin city centre every day, this new riverside quarter commands attention.



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