The Liberties Of Dublin

Historic Liberties Street Historic Liberties Street

The Historic Liberties Of Dublin Renowned in Song And Verse And A Place With An Immense History

 

Songs and stories of renown abound about Dublin’s famous Liberties and traditionally this well known city district was anything for many decades but a desirable place of residence for families to live.

In 21st century Dublin the wheel of fortune has circled right back to the days when the Liberties housed Vikings who occupied the area. The origin of the name Liberties can be traced right back prior to the Irish Reformation of the 16th century when the lands adjoining the local monasteries were exempted from civil law.

 

The church had ecclesiastical governance in the vicinity, unlike most of Dublin and that is the root beginning of how the name “The Liberties” was formulated.

 

The locality had four monasteries and each monastery had its own Liberty as follows:

A/ St. Patrick’s Liberty at St. Patrick’s Cathedral B/ Christchurch Cathedral C/ St. Thomas sited at St. Catherine’s Church and D/ The Liberty of St. Sepulchre at the current site of Kevin Street Garda Station.

 

Thomas Street is the site where The Bould Robert Emmet was taken for execution. Thomas Street also has many more historic attributes and a deed recorded in history is credited to King Henry 11.

His thousands of loyal supporters mistakenly believed, that by slaughtering the Archbishop Of Canterbury, Thomas A. Beckett in 1170, the King would thank them.

However King George11 felt deep repulsion at their cruel action and wondered how he could commemorate Thomas A. Beckett. He decided to erect a monastery on the site of St. Catherine’s church, Thomas Street, and donate a great amount of land nearby also.

 

Monasteries had locations in medieval times sited near rivers and monks were very industrial minded and set up numerous commercial and industrial businesses. The Monastery at Thomas Street depended on the river Poddle but this supply was inadequate for their visions of trade at the location.

 

It was then decided that a new source of natural water was urgently required and the monks now began to construct a two mile stretch of a narrow canal from Kimmage to their own Thomas Street location.

On completion of the new water supply, mills, saw mills and breweries were established and this activity heightened associated businesses that mushroomed throughout The Liberties.

 

The prosperity of The Liberties was soon a major talking point in Dublin circles and the arrival of the French Huguenots after the Reformation gave rise to much of the lands transferring to them.

This occupation by the Huguenots strengthened commercial and industrial activities in The Liberties and the French occupiers built grandiose French style houses in the area also.

 

The Huguenots looked after the local people and weaving became almost a household industry as many families acquired a loom to primarily manufacture silk garments. As the raw material for silk almost dried up and became overly expensive, the silk was now interwoven with wool and this produced garments that were in great demand.

 

Interestingly along the banks of the new Kimmage canal, new industries sprung up such as cloth mills, distilleries, flour mills, chemical plants, breweries and bacon cure houses. The majority of workers enjoyed very good salaries and lived fluently.

 

As steam was invented as a new means of energy, this had a severe impact on the majority of the businesses and the Arthur Guinness plant was a rare exception to the decline in trade in The Liberties districts. Founded in 1759, the Irish brewery progressed to become the world’s largest brewery in the 1930’s era.

 

The Guinness empire acquired over sixty acres in The Liberties district and the company had its own ships, The Lady Miranda and The Lady Patricia, traveling the Irish sea exporting to Britain and other shores.

A well known factor of employment at Guinness for residents of The Liberties working at the brewery, was the pay and conditions. The company took care of its employees by building homes for its workers and also building a swimming pool for relaxation and leisure.

 

Arthur Guinness, the founder, poised a lot of questions for Republican Fenians who were not pleased that the famous Irish entrepreneur was not always on their political side. Arthur in his prime was a powerful figurehead on Dublin’s Council, he was tops of the table with financial power and few, if any council colleagues, could match his status.

 

In The Liberties of the 18th century, Arthur Guinness was the saviour of the majority of local families who thrived in the workplace, due to the success of their local brewery. In 21st century Dublin, Guinness are still the dominant force in the commercial life of the Liberties of Dublin City.

 

A trade of renown in The Liberties was a Cooper. These were the master craftsmen who daily crafted the timber Guinness barrels to store porter for public houses to serve to customers. The splendidly constructed barrels were airtight and made from the sheer accuracy of the Coopers eye and their speed of manufacture was astonishing.

 

In the modern day Liberties, market stalls are a great attraction with indoor and outdoor traders in abundance. New houses and images in The Liberties have developed over the decades but the famous Liberties Of Dublin is a place of renown with an immense history and if you haven’t been there, maybe it’s time to plan that extra special outing.

 

Irish comedian and singer, Brendan Grace, is a native of the Liberties and in his gigs all around the globe, Brendan tells his audiences many humorous stories of his childhood growing up in The Liberties Of Dublin.

 

By Derry JF Doody