O'Connell Street. Road in Dublin, Ireland

O'Connell Street

Road in Dublin, Ireland

O'Connell Street In Dublin (Ireland) Photo © William Murphy

O'Connell Street

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The Main Street In Dublin - O'Connell Street
The Main Street In Dublin - O'Connell Street. Photo by William Murphy
O’Connell Street is the main street in Dublin, Ireland. It really is more of a boulevard than just a street, measuring 160 feet in width and 1,650 feet in length. In fact, it is claimed to be to widest urban street in Europe. O’Connell Street, connecting Parnell Square in the north and the O’Connell Bridge in the south is the main thoroughfare in the city and is almost unavoidable. Visitors will at some point reach the street, drive through it on a bus – almost all buses run through the street – and deliberately go there to see what it is like.

The street has a long and rich history, contains a few impressive buildings and several large statues, and is the effective center of Dublin. A major landmark is located in the middle of the street: The Spire, which is the tallest sculpture in the world. It dominates the Dublin skyline from pretty much anywhere in the city center.

History

The origins of O’Connell Street lie in a narrow street with the name of Drogheda Street. That street was laid out in the 17th century by Henry Moore, the Earl of Drogheda, and was much smaller and shorter than the present-day thoroughfare. In the 1740s Luke Gardiner, who was rich a banker and speculator, purchased a large part of Drogheda Street and the surrounding buildings. He demolished the buildings on the western side of the street and by doing so creating a large 150-feet wide square. That square established the width of the modern street.

O'Connell Street
	Project RAW - O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street Project RAW - O'Connell Street. Photo by Cian Ginty
The square was lined with mansions, the grandest of which was Drogheda House, a mall and trees. It was named Sackville Street after Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lionel Sackville. The so-called Wide Streets Commission obtained permission to widen the rest of the old Drogheda Street in 1777, a project that was completed in the 1780s. At the time, the new Sackville Street was one of the finest urban streets in Europe.

In the 19th century the street became a center of commerce, as many large retailers, banks and insurance companies established their headquarters there. Sackville Street was an important area during both the 1916 and 1922 events. During the Easter Rising (Wikipedia Article) in 1916, Irish rebels occupied the General Post Office, which is still a major landmark, and declared independence from Great Britain. For days O’Connell Street was a war zone. After the rising, the damaged buildings were reconstructed. In 1922, the street saw battle once again, this time between Republicans and Nationalists during the Irish Civil War.

O’Connell Street was further improved in the course of the 20th century – its name was officially changed in 1914 – but, although it is a magnificent street, it is obvious that some parts need some more work.

Structures and Statues

O’Connell Street is lined with majestic buildings and dotted with large statues of prominent Irishmen. The General Post Office, or GPO, is one of the most impressive buildings in all of Dublin. Completely rebuilt after the Easter rising, the structure still serves as the main post office. It is massive and was the last great Georgian building to be constructed in the city.

The Spire of Dublin was erected in 2003 and is the world’s tallest sculpture. Because it is visible from all over the city, it is a popular meeting point.

There are many sculptures and statues to be seen on O’Connell Street. The huge statue of Daniel O’Connell still shows bullet holes from the Easter rising. Another important monument is the Parnell Monument, a 57-feet-high obelisk that is located near Parnell Square. Other statues are of Sir John Gray, James Larkin and James Joyce.

O'Connell Street - O'Connell
	Street
O'Connell Street - O'Connell Street. Photo by Cian Ginty

Visiting O’Connell Street

O’Connell Street is a real highlight of any visit to Dublin. It is the site of historic events and home to beautiful architecture. The street is also lined with numerous restaurants, stores and pubs. Pedestrian Henry Street lies off O’Connell Street and is one of the city main shopping streets; the other one of Grafton Street. Additionally, there are also a few casinos and movie theaters.

How to Get There

O’Connell Street can’t be missed. Most of the Dublin City buses runs through and stop on the street, making it easy to get there by public transport. The northern Luas tram line crosses the street; the nearest stop is on Abbey Street. Reaching O’Connell Street on foot is possible from pretty much anywhere in the city center, as Dublin is fairly compact.

Nearby and Similar Landmarks

Other landmarks in the city are Trinity College Dublin, St Stephen’s Green; Temple Bar, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral; Christ Church Cathedral, the National Museum of Ireland; Dublin Castle, and Kilmainham Gaol.

Other famous urban streets in the world are Broadway, Times Square, the Champs-Elysées, The Bund and Khao San Road.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Jan 07, 2015

Pictures of O'Connell Street

O'Connell Street Project RAW - O'Connell Street
O'Connell Street Project RAW - Photo by Cian Ginty

O'Connell St.jpg - O'Connell Street
O'Connell St.jpg - O'Connell Street. Photo by Elliott Scott

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