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Wicklow Street, Dublin

Wicklow Street, off Grafton Street © Copyright N Cha

For over five hundred years, Wicklow Street was part of a much longer thoroughfare known as Exchequer Street, or Chequer Street, which ran west to George’s Street and crossed the now subterranean River Stein (or Styne) about half way down the street. It took its name from the Exchequer built by the Anglo-Normans in the late twelfth century.[1] It

By 1837, Exchequer Street itself has a bad reputation but property owners along its east side successfully petitioned the Wide Street Commission to have their street renamed Wicklow Street.[2] At that time, much of the street was taken up by drapers and tailors, such as Charles Gunn, a merchant tailor, who occupied the redbrick building at 3 Wicklow Street in 1840. Owned by Dublin Corporation, No. 3 was subsequently leased to Charles Josiah McDermott who ran a well-known clothing establishment here until 1859 when the business went bankrupt. For the next seven years, No. 3 was the demesne of Frederic Judge, another clothier, after which it was leased to Alexander Ogilvy, the Scots clothing merchant from whom the Scottish jeweller Thomas Weir sub-let the property in 1883.

As well as opening his Goldsmith’s Hall at ground level, Thomas moved his ever-expanding family into the upper rooms of this narrow, five-storey building. The stove around which the family warmed themselves during those Victorian winters survives to this day. Fourteen decades later, 3 Wicklow Street still houses Weir’s Silver and Leather Departments, while the upper rooms continue to be used for packing, photography and storage. [3]

 

Weir’s Rings advertised in the Irish Times, 1895.

Footnotes

 

[1] As per a notice from the Wide Street Commissioners published in Saunders’s News-Letter – Monday 30 October 1837, p.3.

[2] Wicklow Street’s name was formally changed on 18 October 1837.

[3] At the time, Switzer’s stood on the opposite side of Wicklow Street, accessed by a beautiful arch that has since been removed. See more on Switzers here.