South-East Central historic walking tour, & visit No 6 Harcourt St old Sinn Féin HQ

Saturday 9th September, meeting Kildare Place, 1.30pm.

Southeast Centre Gems: from Kildare Place then via a circuitous walk to No. 6 Harcourt Street.

The first two-thirds of this walking tour cover some of my favourite gems and oddities in the south-east quarter of Dublin’s South Georgian Core. Forgotten educational history, and Soviet-style social realism on Kildare Place. Free Masons and Dutch Billies on Molesworth Street. Archaeology, water supply, and the iconography of the New Ireland Insurance buildings over on Dawson Street. Not to mention a walk along St Stephen’s Green South, with its grandeur and display, its social climbing, its array of gentlemen’s clubs of Georgian and Victorian Dublin.

Dub SE

Then we’ll make our way to No. 6 Harcourt Street via Stephens Green West, taking in some (very apt) revolutionary and women’s history along the way.

The last 30-40 minutes or so of our tour is within No. 6 Harcourt Street, once an elegant Georgian Townhouse, then a Republican, revolutionary powerhouse, now latterly the HQ of the Gaelic League language movement.

Recent discoveries, by Cuan Ó Seireadáin, archivist of Conradh na Gaeilge within the building, have revealed it was once covered in expensive, hand printed wall papers. The wall paper was most likely hung when Cardinal John Henry Newman, rector of the new Catholic University, lived here up to 1858.

After Newman left, the premises served as wine merchants then a drapers and dressmakers. Around 1908 however it was purchased by Alderman Tom Kelly to become Sinn Féin’s headquarters and indeed the Sinn Féin Cooperative Bank.

SF Bank after Shelling close up-2

The building was attacked by Unionists on Armistice Day 1918 and thereafter raided and attacked repeatedly.

During the build up to the 1918 post-war election, No. 6 was the nerve centre for Sinn Féin’s election planning, leading to the fateful vote that cast the old, once mighty Irish Party into electoral oblivion and made Sinn Féin the power in the land.

At their historic first meeting in the Round Room of the nearby Mansion House in January 1919, Irish TDs revived the Proclamation of 1916 and formally declared a Republic. Michael Collins soon became Minister for Finance and rooms upstairs at No. 6 became his ministerial office.

Endless raids on the building followed, mostly by British army personnel right through the revolutionary era up to late 1921.

Auxiliaries arrive at 6 Harcourt St in 1922

There are literally dozens of stories in the Witness Statements of the Revolutionary era that touch on the building, all the remarkable for being entirely true. We will hear and discuss several of these as well as discussing the role and history of the Gaelic League, Conradh na Gaeilge, in its own way equally central to Irish nationalist history. Conradh took possession of the building in 1966 and they remain here to this day.

Cuan Ó Seireadáin is the archivist of Conradh na Gaeilge and is undertaking the immense task of charting the history of this complex organisation, and the equally storied building they inhabit. He will treat us to some of the details of his findings so far.

This combined walk and Harcourt St site visit/presentation at No 6, immediately after walk, take place on Saturday 9th of September 2017.

Meet Point Kildare Place (the small public space or plaza, opposite the Dept of Trade & Industry Building, also beside the rear wall of the National Museum). Please find the map at the very bottom of this page,

Times: We meet at 1.30pm, leaving by 1.40pm latest to tour the local area, reaching Harcourt St around 3pm. The tour will conclude after Cuan’s presentation, finishing approximately 3.25pm.

It is sometimes possible to buy tickets on the day of the tour.  However, due to number restrictions, we recommend that tickets be purchased in advance please. Tickets cost €16.37 plus EventBrite booking fee (€18 total). Please note it is not practical nor possible to refund tickets or offer alternative dates. (Each tour is a stand alone event.) You may however give your ticket as a gift to another person if you are unable to attend, and we will naturally honour it.

It is not necessary to print your ticket if you are able to display it on your phone.  (We normally have the list of attendees also.)  All necessary practical information is on the ticket page, including a very useful map at the bottom of the ticket page showing our meeting point.

Tickets available here.

Arran Henderson. Dublin Decoded.

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