There is probably a major bust up to be had about Dublin’s shortest street (take it outside folks), but surely Dean Street must be up there for consideration. The street, which connects Patrick Street-New Street and The Coombe, has only four addresses. Not always the case of course. Previously known as Cross Poddle, reflecting the famous river that runs under the street towards St Patrick’s Cathedral and on to Dublin Castle and the Liffey, the street was renamed Dean Street by the Wide Streets Commissioners, after a certain high-profile local resident. One can’t help hankering after the old name.
The terrace of 1-7 Dean Street was a creation of the Wide Streets Commissioners and likely dates to the mid-1820s. It was part of the city-wide efforts to improve pinch points and ungainly junctions across the city (other examples of WSC work can be found at Baker’s Corner on Meath Street and Castle Street). Late 20thC street widening done for Nos. 5, 6 and 7 Dean Street, including one side of the infamous Four Corners of Hell and so now only Nos. 1-4 remain.
An early 19thC drawing from the Wide Streets Commissioners shows the original vision for the terrace; a modest, but handsome arrangement of regularly proportioned commercial premises and houses. The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage notes: “As was typical of the Wide Street Commission, building No.1 attracted high quality tenants and high annual valuations were returned in Thom’s Directories. No.1 functioned as a grocer and spirit dealer in the mid nineteenth-century”.
No 1 is the only protected structure on the terrace, and until now it had been in the worst condition. For many years the home of Myra Glass, the last business – inexplicably a beauty parlour – left abruptly about 2 years ago. A jungle of ivy had begun to climb the side wall and the building had become dreadfully dilapidated.
Work is now underway by Dean Street Properties Limited to restore the building and convert it to five residential units above a shop. The work has uncovered some great details of the early shopfront including a chunky granite pillar of its corner entrance (a very rare feature to still see in place), moulded masonry stall risers and plenty of good timber remaining to recreate a quality front at this prominent corner.
The work is being supported by Dublin City Council under the Shopfront Improvement Scheme 2020.