Turtle Bunbury

Writer and Historian

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

In the 17th century, the newly reclaimed lands around the Pearse Street – Westland Row intersection comprised a 5-acre brickfield owned by John Hansard of Lazar’s Hill. In 1710, the brickfield was purchased by William Westland of Cow Lane who was buried in St Audeon's in 1730. Westland Row was completed by his son in 1772. Daniel O’Connell lived here from 1802 until his move to Merrion Square in 1809. Twenty years later, he secured Emancipation for Ireland’s Catholics. In 1832, work began on St Andrew’s, the first Catholic Church in Ireland to be built on a main street since penal times. Not surprisingly, O’Connell was its chief parishioner. Many babies born in the Holles Street Maternity Hospital were baptised here including the Pearse brothers, Kevin Barry, Brendan Behan and Hugh Leonard. In 1844, the Christian Brothers established their school at the back of the church. Its past pupils include the Pearse brothers and Philip Monahan, Ireland's first Local Authority Manager. In 1854, Oscar Wilde was born at No 21. In 1871 the Royal Irish Academy of Music moved to No 36 Westland Row, acquiring the two neighbouring houses of Nos 37 and 38 in 1911. The Westland Row Railway Station was completed in 1884, greatly increasing the footfall in the surrounding area. In the 1940s, proximity to this station led the Catholic Social Welfare Bureau to establish their main Emigration Centre for those leaving Ireland at No 18.

Every Sunday there's a throng
Of pretty girls, who trot along
In a pious, breathless state
(They are nearly always late)
To the Chapel, where they pray
For the sins of Saturday.
From ‘Westland Row’ by James Stephens, The Adventures of Seumas Beg (Macmillan & Co, 1916)



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