The following is a part of the personal submission on the future of Moore Street which I made to the Minister’s Consultative Group on Moore Street; another section, 0n the Moore Street Market, has already been published.
The 1916 Rising historical aspect of Moore Street has been most commented upon, understandably and rightly so; however because of that I do not feel it is necessary for me to do aught than to outline the bare bones of the historical case.
The Easter Rising began on Easter Monday April 24th — it was a momentous occasion in Irish and in world history (see 1916 RISING – OF GREAT SIGNIFICANCE IN IRISH AND INTERNATIONAL HISTORY to be published separately) and of unparalleled significance in making possible the present national and international status of Ireland (whether it or subsequent events resulted in true independence or lived up to the dreams and vision of the Rising’s participants is another matter).
April 24th was not only the day the “Republic was asserted in arms” but also the day it was declared by written and spoken word, to Ireland and to the world. That was done through the Proclamation, signed earlier in the week at No.21 Henry Street and then read out by Patrick Pearse outside the GPO on behalf of the Irish Republic, copies being also distributed through the city.
Why read out at the GPO? Because the HQ of the Rising was there, the Provisional Government of the Irish Republic. And on Friday 28th, when that building was no longer habitable due to shell-fire and flames, the Government and those remaining of the GPO garrison evacuated the building.
Leaving by a side door that no longer exists, the evacuees crossed a smoke-covered and bullet-live Henry Street and entered Henry Place. There they made their way to the corner of Moore Lane and two men died on that journey. They entered houses seeking British soldiers, ready for hand-to-hand fighting and found none – the British soldiers were at distant remove and armed with machine-guns and rifles on the roof of the Rotunda and at a barricade on Parnell Street.
Building a temporary barricade for cover, the evacuees made their way across this gap – indeed a bearna baoil — and continued on towards Moore Street. Here again the main body came to a halt, as another British barricade was firing down this street too.
Possibly one Volunteer died trying to cross here; certainly the majority instead decided to enter No.10 Moore Street (junction with Henry Place) and some houses in the southern terrace (that whole terrace and a part of No.10 were later destroyed by shelling and flames). Some volunteers also occupied the furthest house south but were forced by flames and heat to evacuate it later.
Nos.10, 14, the End of the Terrace and O’Rahilly Parade
In No.10, Volunteer Nurse O’Farrell set up the field hospital, treating up to 20 wounded men, including a wounded British soldier picked up under British fire by George Plunkett from near a Volunteer barricade at the Moore St./ Salmons Lane junction and brought inside to be cared for.
Such details would make No.10 of great historical importance but it is trumped by another – this was also where the Provisional Government met on the evening of Friday 28th, the last night of the Rising. And it was here that the decision was taken to tunnel through the rest of the houses.
Through the rest of that night tunneling continued to the last house in the terrace, which is to say at the lane now named O’Rahilly Parade. And the Government relocated to nearer the centre of the terrace, almost certainly No.16. Those facts alone make the whole terrace of important historical significance.
Yet there is more. Just prior to the evacuation, The O’Rahilly led a detachment of volunteers (in both senses) in a charge along Moore Street at the barricade. Of those who remained in the street only one somehow appears not to have been wounded but his luck was about to run out: as he ran across the road to the laneway which now bears his name, The O’Rahilly was hit by five bullets and lay, dying, in the lane. Here he composed and wrote that prosaic and yet heart-rending simple letter of farewell to his wife and children, the script and content of which is reproduced in the monument currently on the wall in this laneway, near the junction known for generations locally as “Dead Man’s Corner”.
ANOTHER SUICIDE ASSAULT PLAN AND SURRENDER
In this laneway the next day, Saturday 29th, there gathered another barricade suicide attack party mobilised by Seán McLoughlin, to provide at least a diversion for the rest of the Garrison to escape and proceed westward to continue the resistance. Included in this group was Oscar Traynor, subsequently serving at different times as Minister for Post & Telegraphs, Defence and Justice (also President of the Football Association of Ireland) (but also later instrumental in denying McLoughlin a pension at commanding officer level).
Impressed by McLoughlin’s conduct earlier and during the evacuation, Connolly had appointed him to replace himself as head of the GPO Garrison now in Moore Street: yet another great historical importance of Moore Street – McLoughlin went on to become an IRA organiser in Limerick and also Commandant of a Flying Brigade in Limerick during the Civil War (by which time he had become a communist).
McLoughlin’s group were pulled back from their attack almost at the last moment as Pearse was now contemplating surrender. A number of civilians, including women, had been shot dead by the British in Moore Street (the Volunteers had shot one civilian, a teenage girl, with an accidental discharge upon entering No.10 – incredibly almost, the father pleaded the Volunteer be not punished and the mother cooked for the soldiers).
In pursuance of the decision to surrender, Elizabeth O’Farrell left the terrace (perhaps from No.14) under an improvised white flag of truce (despite a civilian man lying dead in the street under another such improvised flag), climbed over the British barricade and met with General Lowe, then returned to Moore Street and eventually emerged again with Pearse, whereupon the Surrender was formally agreed and Pearse’s order and Connolly’s co-signing was also decided.
All those events make the whole Moore Street quarter of huge national historical significance but there is yet one more – McLoughlin marched the garrison out under arms, in defiance of the orders of the British and they retraced their evacuation route, saluting the GPO as they passed it on their way up to the Gresham and captivity.
Apart from the civilians and Volunteers wounded and killed in that quarter, five of the Signatories of the Proclamation, including the Commander-in-Chief of the Rising and with his brother Willie, six of the fourteen executed in Dublin spent their last days of freedom in Moore Street.
During the Easter Rising Volunteers and their supporters or anxious relatives came and went to and from the GPO and other buildings in the area, some of them taking side streets to do so, many passing through the Moore Street quarter (including parts of it now buried under the ILAC). From the GPO to the Moore Street quarter is clearly the site of a historical urban (and WWI) battlefield, most of it intact.
Judge Barrett rightly pointed out that the issue is not how many of the houses are of pre-1916 construction (despite the State’s defence team making much of this issue) but rather of the historical footprint. In other words, Max Barrett took an archaelogical historical view rather than a historical architectural one.
Without being unmoved by architecture, I would concur with this viewpoint and emphasise it in stressing the historical importance of the street, laneways and buildings (including the eastern side of the southern terrace of Moore Street, included in the threat from the giant shopping mall plan). Nevertheless, it is a fact that some of the buildings are of pre-1916 vintage and that virtually all contain some of the original building, or cellars or courtelage. On the northwest side, bullet marks may be found on houses including parts of the wings of the ‘grotesque’ (on the roof of a fine “Dutch”-style house) which were shot off by British Army soldiers during the Rising.
CONCRETE CONSERVATION, RESTORATION AND DEVELOPMENT RECOMMENDATIONS
In consultation with campaigners, street traders, the public, small shopkeepers, local residents, historians, architects and elected representatives: Save, Restore, Rebuild, Improve.
The whole area should be pedestrianised with the usual access exemptions for deliveries within certain hours, emergency services etc.
Buildings of the 1916 period in the Quarter should be preserved
All other buildings in the quarter should be preserved, renovated or reconstructed as necessary to appearance appropriate to the period and area (and appropriate to their current use – I am not advocating the building of outside toilets for public use or slaughterhouses)
The upper floor of the 1916 Terrace should be developed into a 1916 history experience, integrated with the GPO and the Evacuation Route, with disabled access
and the history being ‘social’ (i.e. showing how the people lived) as well as a ‘political’, i.e. aspects of the Rising (see A MOORE STREET HISTORY TOUR — A VISITOR’S EXPERIENCE IN THE FUTURE, article soon to be published)
The Evacuation Route should be conserved and appropriately renovated where necessary, with important events marked by plaques, panels and murals along its route
The Evacuation Route should be brought back to the period cobbles and kept clear of rubbish or graffiti with disabled access
Moore Lane and O’Rahilly Parade should be brought back to original cobbles with disabled access
The development should take place in the context of upgrading the area as a history, culture and leisure area, most of it accessible by day and night
The part of Moore Street not currently part of the Barrett judgement should be included in the overall plan
The State should investigate the potential of applying for World Heritage Status, consulting widely and publishing its recommendations
Also for conservation within a European framework (some aspects of Horizon 2020 may be useful in this respect)
In order to do all this, a first priority is to formally urge the Minister to drop the appeal and I submit that the Consultative Group should do exactly that.
Develop a democratic, open and transparent partnership process to oversee the development, with representation for all stakeholders, including street traders and local small businesses, nearby residents, historians, campaigners (including activists currently excluded from the Consultative Group), historians ….
I once knew a cat but, what is more to the point, the cat knew me.
I knew the cat not well, but as a kind of nearby resident I had helped a little once and made friendly overtures to. He or she (I suspect she and will refer to it so from now on) first came into contact with me when a racket of magpies not far from my home attracted my attention. I found magpies harassing a marmalade (orange tabby) cat in a tree and the cat seemed trapped there.
Since there was no nest in the tree for the magpies to be protecting, I chased them off some distance with the aid of shouts and stones, then tried to persuade the cat to come down but she just looked at me – afraid of me too, I thought. Some days later, I came across a marmalade cat outside some nearby houses and called to her and, when she came, stroked her and then went on my way. She made as if to follow me but then gave up.
A few weeks later, I was coming up the road when I saw a marmalade cat about 50 yards away and wondered if it was her. She however looked up, saw me and hurried over, then began rubbing her body against my leg.
So how did she recognise me? Cats have very good hearing but I very much doubt she could identify my footsteps on a concrete footpath amidst all the traffic noise from so far away. Cats also have a good sense of smell but I don’t think it’s good over distance. They are not good at recognising human faces, according to tests. So, she probably recognised my shape and gait (like those recognition software programmes the secret services have developed and with which they monitor a lot of CCTV coverage — reassuring, huh? Not so much!).
It is true I have a somewhat identifiable gait, so I am told – a swagger learned as protective colouring in my teens but about which I am nearly always unconscious and when I am, try to control. Once doing that in New Cross in SE London, a black youth I knew from my work in a local youth club shouted from across the street: “Walk like a white man!” Apparently my attempt to control the Dublin swagger was resulting in the kind of walk adopted by many Afro-Caribbean youth.
But, back to the cat. Anyway, it was an amazing feat of recognition of an individual of a different species and of minimal acquaintance and I think she would have recognised me no matter how subdued my usual type of walk. I wonder how many individuals considered friendly or otherwise a cat can identify by sight at a distance – just how big is their database?
Another time I came upon this cat, she was stretched out on a warm sunny pavement but being persecuted by a pair of magpies (probably the same ones as before). The cat saw me and so did the magpies but I stopped at a distance to observe what was happening.
One magpie distracted her attention by strutting up and down in front of her head, but out of reach of swipe or sudden rush, while the other waited its chance and pecked at the cat’s tail. She lay there suffering this persecution, only twitching her tail from time to time in a futile attempt to keep it away from the bird or perhaps out of tension.
“But why don’t you move, Cat?” I asked her, half in amusement and half in sympathy.
She looked at me and seemed to say:
“Why should I? This is MY pavement and I am harming no-one! I am not going to let two BIRDS chase me off!”
“Well, you could spring at them …”
“What’s the point? They keep just out of range and I’d miss, giving them a reason to mock me.”
The Magpies, in turn, might have been saying:
“This has nothing to do with you, Mister. This is a Cat, ancestral predator on birds and fair game for us at any time. Keep out of it!”
“Yeah, we remember you butting in before!”
And magpies probably can identify human faces – at least tests with their close relatives, crows and jackdaws, show that they can. And magpies are the only bird so far shown able to identify themselves in a mirror.
I did keep out of it. I had things to do and left them to it – the cat after all had the option to leave and even were I to chase them off, the birds would only fly a little distance and then come back. I’ve seen magpies do this “torment-the-cat” thing before. And cats will kill a magpie, if they can.
The cat’s refusal to move or to make a lunge she knew the birds would easily evade, the provocative tormenting by the magpies and the way they worked in unison, all seemed to me so very human, even allowing for anthropomorphism.
But thinking about it later, I came to a different conclusion: it is not the animal behaviour that is human-like – it is OUR behaviour that is animal-like! After all, are we not descended from a common ancestor, albeit nearly 300 million years ago?
In total, I saw that Marmalade Miss maybe four or five times and then no more. Perhaps her owner(s) moved – I hope so and that she was not killed by traffic.
I had nothing I could gain from the cat, other than a kind of feeling of kinship perhaps. Other than a stroke now and again, she had nothing to gain from me. It was an uncomplicated friendship and not, like with some dogs, a dependency by either of us. I know she is gone but years later, as I pass near that street, sometimes still look out for her.
Diarmuid Breatnach — part of Submission to the Minister’s Moore Street Consultative Group
I have had input to a number of submissions to the Minister’s Moore Street Consultative Group and recently sent in my own personal one. The submission is divided into sections and this is the one dealing with the market (the others will be published at intervals).
DUBLIN’S HISTORIC STREET MARKET
Historically, the Moore Street quarter deserves preserving in its own right and should have been so. Instead, it has been both neglected and preyed upon. But so has the street market.
As the only traditional food street market of antiquity remaining in Dublin, considering also its iconic status to not only Dubliners but migrants through the centuries and to visitors from the countryside, the street market should also have been saved. Such features in cities abroad are promoted for tourists, and indeed both Fáilte Ireland and Tourism Ireland do promote the market to visitors to Dublin. One can see the bemusement of the faces on many as they wander through in groups and imagine their thoughts (or overhear their expression):
“This is the famous street market? Are we sure we haven’t taken a wrong turning?”
It is easy to understand their confusion. Had they come a half-century ago, before the ILAC was built, they would have seen a bustling street, with stalls and shops both sides of the road along its length, and some businesses in side streets. Two decades ago, they would have found no difficulty in imagining the market’s former glory, for much of it remained still. Even a decade ago, perhaps, enough remained to imagine it.
But now? With shops closed and ugly hoardings squeezing the street? With big business shops pushing out in Moore Street? With independent shopkeepers offered only one-year leases at a time and pushed out willy-nilly? With only 15 street trading licences in operation and only some of those on the street at any one time?
The street market is not beyond saving and I will devote some space to that issue but first let us examine how it has come to this, for overcoming those causes is part of the solution.
In a Rogues’ Gallery of those guilty for bringing about this state of affairs, first in line must stand the Planning Department of Dublin City Council, which has made the decisions about what could be built and what demolished.
I know not how much money was placed into how many brown envelopes nor the names of all those who received them (though I have a fair idea of the identities of some of the recipients), nor what other favours were dispensed. But what is clear is that there was massive favour given to big business and speculators, the legendary Gombeen Men, and massive disfavour to street traders, small independent businesses, workers and working class residents. This of course has happened in many other areas of Dublin City and County and indeed elsewhere in Ireland. But one of the most concentrated areas of abuse has been the Moore Street area. And it continues to suffer that abuse.
Who, wanting to conserve a street market, would allow a giant supermarket chain outlet at one end of the street and another next door, in a city centre already abundantly served (if that is the word) by supermarkets? Who, wanting to conserve such a street market, would grant planning permission to huge shopping centre buildings to cover the entire area on each side of that remaining street market? Who, in good stewardship of our city centre, would grant a huge extension on a bad planning permission when the original one of a decade was running out with no work of any significance having been done on it to that point? And what public servants would so callously and nonchalantly ignore the wishes expressed by its citizens and, indeed of late, by the majority of their elected representatives?
Since no other motivations are apparent, one is entitled to assume either idiocy or rapacious greed; since the men involved on both sides of those arrangements are not idiots in the normal sense, that leaves an intelligent observer with only one alternative. And ask most ordinary people in Dublin and they will freely name the alternative, the real motivation.
Next into that rogues’ gallery must step the Department of Dublin City Council responsible for Street Trading – it is they that issue the street trading licenses to the street traders, lay down conditions and enforce restrictions, and in conjunction with other departments, provide their facilities.
Yes, well – facilities? One covered stall, open on all sides. No heating. No lighting other than the dim amount in the street. No water supply near to stalls. No toilets or changing rooms for the traders. Year after year, despite promises to the contrary, these disgraceful conditions continue. Some of the current traders are the fourth generation of their family in such work but is it any wonder that few stall-holders believe their children or grandchildren will follow them into the work?
As if that were not enough, around the time the Moore Street campaign was heating up further, when Chartered Land was gearing up to make its ‘land-swap’ offer, a deal promoted by the head of the Planning Department and lauded by Minister for Heritage Heather Humphreys, Dublin City Council put not one but two permanent Market Inspectors on the street (at that time I think there were only 16 street licenses in operation there). Previously, one inspector would tour the market perhaps once or twice a day, for an hour at most.
What was the practical need for bumping up to this relatively high level of inspection? These inspectors have no powers other than instructing the shops and traders about street and pavement regulations and fining them for non-compliance. They do not attend to any other matters. They do not even claim to monitor the quality of the produce sold in the street.
There is no reasonable answer to this question, unless the purpose is to harass the small shopkeepers and traders further, in the way that unscrupulous landlords harass their tenants when they want to get rid of them but find it difficult to do so legally.
I do not accuse the individual inspectors of having that intention – only those who conceived of the idea and put them on that street. But employ two men on a street which they can clearly see often contains only ten stalls, tell them they have to enforce the street trading rules or their jobs will be in jeopardy — and what will they do? Urged by employment insecurity and sheer boredom, they will go up and down the street, criticising traders and even shopkeepers for extending some inches outside their allotted space (though there are many empty metres to each side and their neighbours are not complaining), or for continuing to sell some minutes after official closing time, threatening and even fining those trying to make a living with legitimate businesses and stalls on that street.
One might almost suspect that between speculators, big chain businesses and certain Dublin City Council officials, there is a conspiracy to run the street market into the ground, in order to make the whole a rasa tabula, a board wiped clean, upon which powerful financial interests can write their plans. Or an eyesore that few will bother to defend. And I say that such a conspiracy exists. Generally in this world, what looks like, feels like and smells like is indeed the substance one suspects.
The Moore Street Market should be cherished, nurtured and supported. Perhaps it is too late to do anything about those already in existence around it but no more supermarkets should be permitted in its near proximity.
The street traders should be given decent working conditions of shelter, heating and light and free from unnecessary official interference (not to say harassment). Small independent businesses should be encouraged in the street and in its surroundings (more on this later). The objective should be to promote a healthy, vigorous, colourful street food market on the spot where such has stood for centuries, with attractive working and earning-a-living conditions for those who work and shop there.
I am not a street trader but I have sold and promoted items publicly on many occasions and I also know something of the conditions in Moore Street, which I attend at least once week and usually a number of other days too.
When the weather is fine it is pleasant to have an open-air market but when it rains, snows or cold winds blow, shelter is desirable. The only way to be able to benefit from good weather and shelter from the bad is to provide a removable cover over the whole. I am sure that our present level of technology can provide a retractable, transparent roof.
Because the winds can be biting and also to conserve heat in winter, I suggest that sliding doors at each end to of the market should be provided – these can be left open or partially drawn as required.
Each stall should have adequate lighting and heating at hand (or foot!). A water supply should be available nearby no more than a few feet distance from every stall.
Toilets should be provided for traders.
There should be more flexibility in what the traders can sell, without losing the focus on a food market. During the 1916 Centenary year, traders were prevented by market inspectors from selling simple 1916 memorabilia – scarves, copies of the proclamation, flags etc. Such a prohibition in Moore Street was particularly ironic and unfortunate.
The refuse collected in the street should be verifiably recycled, the vegetable and fruit refuse in particular making excellent compost for city gardeners (and perhaps for a garden in the quarter itself).
The market traders do not work on Sundays and this seems an excellent opportunity to provide a farmers’ market in the street and lanes, bringing more value to the area.
The part of Moore Street largely omitted from the Barrett judgement, i.e from the Henry Place/ Moore St. junction to Henry Street, should be included in the overall plan
All of the above should be done in consultation with representation from workers, traders, small shopkeepers, shoppers of Moore Street and with local residents and the process should be transparent and publicly accountable