Tuesday, August 19, 2014

A Walk in Smithfield

On the north side of the River Liffey, a few blocks west of O'Connell Street is the Smithfield Village. By all accounts, this little cluster used to be a rundown wasteland, but is now on the rise. It is home to a few Dublin notables, and I'm always looking for an excuse to explore new parts of the city, so off I went.

Near the Luas line, a temporary construction wall was plastered with the usual concert bills, junk food ads, and this little nugget.

Graffiti reading: Garth Crooks in Dublin
Garth Crooks

As harmful and nasty as graffiti can be, sometimes one has to admire the pure cheek of it. The stencil artist really put some love into this one. I don't really know how much Garth himself had to do with the Croke Park snafu, but I had to admire this job anyway.

Probably the most famous spot in Smithfield is the Old Jameson Distillery. Many visitors don't realize that Old here doesn't mean aged and ancient, it means former. The famous Jameson Whiskey is now made in a larger facility out of town. Today, this facility is set up as a museum and bar, much like the Guinness Storehouse farther west. 

We haven't done thd Jameson tour (the Bushmills tour is good enough for us), but we've heard good things about it from other Dublin visitors.

Jameson Distillery Tours Entrance

Just west of the Old Jameson plant is the wide open Smithfield Plaza or Smithfield Square. This brick expanse was a seventeenth-century marketplace turned urban farm until the late 1990s. It was cleaned up and restored in an effort to attract business and commerce to this neglected and mostly abandoned part of town. 

The old Jameson chimney and observation deck stands on the east side of the square, cafes, restaurants, and a cinema are open on the east side. At the north end of this deceptively large square, there is a little green space with log benches carved to resemble livestock. This presumably pays homage to the agricultural history of Smithfield.

Smithfield Square Dublin, Ireland
Smithfield Square
Jameson Chimney Dublin, Ireland
Jameson Chimney

Green at the Top of Smithfield Square Dublin, Ireland
Green at the Top of the Square

This square was and is also the site of the famous (or infamous) Smithfield Horse Fair. Horse breeders and buyers used to gather here regularly to buy and sell horses in the open air... until it turned into the O.K. Corral in 2011. Someone tried to steal a horse, and shots were fired randomly at the fleeing would-be horse rustler. Now the fair is held only twice yearly and traders are required to have licenses to attend and trade at the fair. 

The Cobblestone Pub is at the top of the square. I wanted to check out this place after it had been so strongly recommended by Lord Stilton and many others. Sadly, I was here on a weekday afternoon, and the pub is only open at night. We'll have to come back some night for the Trad music sessions for which this place is so famous.

The Cobblestone Pub Dublin, Ireland
The Cobblestone Pub

I did visit one more unique place in Smithfield, but it deserves its own post...


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