Grafton Street. Road in Dublin, Ireland

Grafton Street

Road in Dublin, Ireland

GraftonSt4 Photo © Stephen Cochran

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Grafton Street

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The pedestrian-friendly Grafton Street begins at the western end of Trinity College Dublin and runs towards the main entrance of St Stephen’s Green in central Dublin. It is the main thoroughfare between those two landmarks, but is also an attraction on its own. Grafton Street is one of two main shopping streets in the capital of Ireland; the other one is Henry Street. The street is lined with high-end stores and is one of the most expensive shopping streets in the world.

Grafton Street is a popular place to visit among both locals and tourists. Besides stores, there are also plenty of eateries. The side streets are where you can find typically Irish pubs. The St Stephen’s Green Shopping Center lies at the end of the street, adjacent to St Stephen’s Green park. Because it is a pedestrian street, Grafton Street is a place where street performers and artists show off their tricks and play music. They provide fun entertainment on a usually very busy street.

Grafton Street is named after the Duke of Grafton, Henry FitzRoy (Wikipedia Article), an illegitimate son of King Charles II who owned land there.

History

At first the street was a country lane in the farmlands south of Dublin. Development was initiated in 1708 by the wealthy Dawson family – parallel-running Dawson Street is named after them. The whole area became a fashionable, residential area in the several decades that followed. This was also when St Stephen’s Green was developed, a park where prosperous residents could go for walks or relax.

After the O’Connell Bridge was built at the end of the 18th century, Grafton Street was transformed from an up-scale residential street to a major thoroughfare. The O’Connell Bridge provided a connection between busy O’Connell Street on the north side of the River Liffey (Wikipedia Article) and the prosperous residential south side.

The street became pedestrianized in the 1980s. The only exception is the section between Nassau Street and the College Green, which is a very busy area in Dublin. Nowadays, it is one of Dublin’s most crowded streets, filled with locals and tourists strolling around, (window-)shopping and on their way to other landmarks in the city. The crowds are entertained all day every day by the so-called buskers, which include musicians, mime artists, poets, acrobats, and dancers.

Visiting Grafton Street

Grafton Street is a main attraction in Dublin not only because it connects other landmarks, but because there is a lot to see and do there. The street is lined with beautiful, historic buildings that are home to iconic Irish stores. Examples of those stores that can be found on Grafton Street are Weir & Sons, Brown Thomas, and Bewley’s Grafton Street Café. Bewley’s Café announced its closing in 2004 after being open since 1927, but after a campaign that was supported by many people, including the Mayor of Dublin, the historic café was able to stay open. That says a lot about the value of the street.

In addition to those icons of Irish business, there are also countless smaller shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels. On Grafton Street you will be able to find pretty much everything you’re looking for. The wide variety of stores sells all kinds of things, from music instruments and lingerie to computers and art. The multi-story St Stephen’s Green Shopping Center is home to a huge number of stores and cafés as well. Most restaurants and pubs are located on the side streets.

Major highlights in the Grafton Street area are St Stephen’s Gree, a popular place to hang out in in summer and to go for walks in winter. At the other end of the street lies the Trinity College Provost’s house, home to the head of Trinity College Dublin and one of the city’s most well-known landmarks. The college grounds can be visited for free; a major highlight is the Long Room in the library where you can see the magnificent Book of Kells (Wikipedia
	Article). Another famous landmark on Grafton Street is the 20th-century Statue of Molly Malone, which is popular meeting place among Dubliners.

Grafton Street is also where many famous musicians have started their careers. And lots of musicians can still be seen and heard playing their tunes on the street. Successful (former) buskers are Paddy Casey, Academy Award-winner Glen Hansard, Rodrigo y Gabriela, and Damien Rice.

How to Get There

St Stephen’s Green is the terminal of one of the two Luas lines in Dublin. From there, it’s only a few steps to Grafton Street. Dublin’s city center is fairly compact and therefore, many attractions can be reached on foot. The bus network is extensive as well and, although a bit complicated, can get to pretty much any spot in the city.

Nearby Landmarks

Other nearby landmarks include Christ Church Cathedral, Temple Bar, the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin Castle, and Merrion Square.

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Author: bramreusen. Last updated: Dec 20, 2014

Pictures of Grafton Street

Grafton Street, Dublin - Grafton Street
Grafton Street, Dublin - Photo by shel israel

Grafton Street
Grafton Street. Photo by Andor Kish

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