Extract of 1759 survey showing development of the 'Burcham plot' on the north side of Newmarket

Fordham’s Alley

A new pedestrian link to Newmarket allows to you walk in the footsteps of craftspeople from the area's industrious past.



Newmarket was laid out as a marketplace by Edward Brabazon, the second Earl of Meath, in the 1670s. The initiative was intended to encourage commercial activity in the earl’s Liberty at a time when Dublin was seeing an influx of skilled craftspeople and the capital was expanding rapidly with a wave of development ventures in the wake of the Restoration in 1660.

In 1674 a royal patent was granted to hold twice weekly agricultural markets at Newmarket. The streets and lanes off Newmarket had already been developing into a hive of cottage industries with tanners, knackers, skinners, glovers, glue makers, brewers and malters all producing for the growing city. One such lane, Fordham’s Alley, was set out by the properous Crow family in the mid 17thC, cutting through an area of land south of the Coombe known as the ‘Horse Park’.  The alley took its name from John Fordham’s bakery which stood at the north west corner of the lane and The Coombe*.

John Rocques’ survey of Dublin from 1756 shows Fordham’s Alley as a narrow laneway, densely lined with buildings, running between The Coombe and Newmarket, and part of a warren of laneways and long-lost placenames including ‘Cuckolds Row’, ‘Mutton Lane’, ‘Truck Street’ and ‘Skinners Alley’.  Cuckolds Row terminated with a small open space on the north side of Newmarket that we still read today as Brabazon Row.

The alley continued to be seen in later centuries. In the 1846 Ordinance Survey Map of Dublin, for example, its shown running to a junction with The Coombe and Ash Street (prior to the development of Ashview Court housing in the early 1980’s Ash Street ran into the Coombe – it now terminates in steps). Later iterations show a ‘Coombe Street’ along the alignment of Fordham’s Alley. The route disappeared with the development of Coombe Court housing and the IDA enterprise centre at Newmarket in the 1980’s, and the building of the Coombe Bypass, now St Luke’s Avenue, in the early 2000s (my assumption here).

An objective to reinstate a pedestrian link from Newmarket to St Luke’s Avenue was included in various Dublin City Development Plans and so was incorporated into the eventual redevelopment of the former IDA enterprise centre/Blenders site, which is now called Newmarket Yards.  The connecting route, called Fordham Lane, includes a number of heritage panels, highlighting the archaeological excavations of the site undertaken by IAC Archaeology as part of the redevelopment of the site.

Among IAC’s discoveries was the line of a ditch defining the ‘Horse Park’, with parts of the ditch through to date back to c. 1300. Finds in the ditch include medieval pottery and tiles, as well as a carved stone, thought to have come from the Abbey of St Thomas and reused in the foundations of Matt Whyte’s tavern, located on the corner of Newmarket and Fordham’s Alley. An extensive pattern of 17thC and 18thC house foundations was uncovered, as well as brick-built kilns and furnaces, and numerous copper and leather items, all attesting to the various industries that would have lined the laneway*.

You can read more about the excavations at Newmarket Yards at www.iac.ie. Newmarket Yards has been developed by Carrowmore Properties for Carrey Issuer DAC  – www.newmarketyards.com

*information taken from IAC’s heritage panels at Fordham Lane.


Extract of 1759 survey showing development of the 'Burcham plot' on the north side of Newmarket
Extract of John Rocque's survey of Dublin, 1756
The new Fordham Lane

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