Grafton Street and St Stephens Green
Grafton Street is one of the busiest streets in Europe and one of the most expensive places to operate a shop.
Rents for a premises on Grafton street compare to London's Oxford Street and Fifth Avenue in New York and is ranked the fifth most expensive in the world per square meter.
The reason for this is by law all rents can only be upward, no lease when due for renewal can have a downward rent, even during major recessions.
Bewley's Oriental Cafe (the only surviving branch) which opened in 1927 by Ernest Bewley and which became a Dublin institution and favorite place for Dubliners.
Grafton Street which was pedestrianised in the early 1980's is home to the famous Bewley's Oriental Cafe (the only surviving branch) which opened in 1927 by Ernest Bewley and which became a Dublin institution and favorite place for Dubliners. Run by a Quaker family (The Bewley's) until the early 1980's, it ran into financial trouble and eventually closed its doors in 2004.
Six Facts about Bewley's Grafton Street
1. Opened in 1927 at a cost of £60,000 in 1927 money, this would be equivalent to around 15 million Euro in today's money.
2. Over 1 million customers a year visit Bewley's.
3. It is Ireland's largest cafe with over 400 seats and 18,000 sq feet.
4. Has it's own theater.
5. It's coffee is all fairtrade.
6. Bewley’s Café has been described as being an essential part of the character of Grafton Street.
After an outcry from the public it reopened under new management and now seems to be doing a roaring trade. The Grafton Street branch is famous for its original Harry Clarke stained glass windows that were completed just before his death in 1931.
Closing Down Once Again
In March 2015, Bewley's will be closing down again (for a refit they say ) but it is most lightly the place will not reopen in its current form.
Many famous songs have had Grafton street in their lyrics and many street entertainers started their careers on the street. Glen Hansard of (The Frames) won the Academy Award for the film Once which was partly filmed on the street itself.
Dublin's best know street performer The Dice Man (Thom McGinty) worked Grafton Street for many years and was even arrested (believe it or not) for wearing fishnet stockings and very little else during one advertising campaign after some old dear complained to the Gardai (police) he was charged with indecent exposure.
Grafton Street is home to Dublin's most famous store Brown Thomas, currently owned by the Billionaire Galen Weston. After buying its main rival Switzers, Brown Thomas moved to the bigger store on the opposite side of the street and changed the name and then sold their old premises to Marks and Spencer.
St Stephens Green Grafton street leads on to St Stephen's Green, Dublin's second biggest park (next toThe Phoenix Park, which is one of, if not the largest enclosed park in Europe).
St Stephens Green Park is a special place and Dubliners love it, attracting 1000's of them daily. During the summer months or sunny days, you cannot find a bench or even a space to lie down. It is like a little oasis in the otherwise noisy city. Famous for its Ducks and other waterfowl that Dubliners love to feed, the park dates back to 1664 when it was first enclosed by a wall.
In 1916 during the Easter Rising, it was taken over and used by the Citizen Army as an outpost to attack the British forces. If turned out a bad idea as the British took up positions in the buildings surroundings and overlooking the park that make it easy to fire at targets in the park. Story goes that during the rising, fire was suspended to allow the park keepers in to feed the ducks.
The park has many unusual features including a special area for the blind with scented plants and flowers each labeled in braille and which can be handled by people without damage, a children's playground, many water features and bandstands and is just a special place for most Dubliners.
There is also a number of statues and monuments including ones in honor of James Joyce, Robert Emmett, Wolfe Tone, The Famine, O'Donovan Rossa and several lesser know ones.
The main entrance at the Grafton street side is known as the Fusiliers arch in honor of the Irish, who died in the Boer War, it is engraved with the war dead all around the arch. Park is Open 9am to 6pm, seven days a week and is well worth a visit.