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Georgian Ranelagh (Dublin)

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Historic district of Dublin. Ranelagh, Dublin 6.

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      05.07.2001 04:28
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      ~ ~ Ranelagh is now a very quickly becoming very fashionable inner city suburb of Dublin City. But it was not always so. In ancient times there were four roads that led into the old walled city of Dublin from the south-west, one of which ran directly through where the old villages of Ranelagh and Rathmines now stand. This area was considered highly dangerous, as it was inhabited by wild tribes of indigenous Irish, who had been thrown of their land in Dublin by the English invaders, and who now resided outside the city limits, just waiting for an opportunity to present itself where they could take their revenge on the hated enemy, and relieve them both of their purses and their lives. ~ ~ A famous battle in Irish history also took place here between the Royalist forces and the much-despised Oliver Cromwell (people still spit when you mention his name here in Ireland!!) on the very spot where some of the finest examples of Georgian houses and architecture now stand. ~ ~ It was the mid-18th Century before this area really began to develop, when fine houses were erected by the wealthy merchants of the city, the area then being removed from the hustle and bustle (and the squalor and crime) of Dublin city, and where they could raise their families and live in peace and solitude after their day’s toil. Many of these were three stories over a basement, (where the servants lived) and were characterised by the fine sets of granite steps that led up to their very distinctive Georgian front doors. A lot of the houses were also enclosed by sets of ornate metal railings, many of which still exist to this day, as they were not torn down to make armaments and battleships during the Second World War, as was the case in the UK. (Southern Ireland was neutral) ~ ~ To view Georgian Ranelagh walk out from the city centre up South Saint Georges Street and Camden Street, until you eventually hit the old Royal Canal at Ranelagh Br
      idge. (the walk will take about 20 minutes) Once you cross the bridge you are on Ranelagh Road, and immediately you will realise that this is a very old district, as straight away you can see many fine examples of Georgian houses. Some of the finest examples are just off the main road in Northbrook Avenue and especially in Mountpleasant Square, which is one of the best preserved examples of a Georgian Square that you will find anywhere, either in the UK or Ireland. Mountpleasant Square has a small “mini-park” in its centre, which was a feature of many of these old developments, and where the residents can take their ease and relax. This park has now been developed and houses the most prestigious Tennis Club (The Fitzwilliam) in the city, which was formed in 1898, and where the national championships are played each year. The old Georgian doors in this area, and indeed throughout the city, have been protected for many years by preservation orders, and the owners must obtain planning permission before they can be altered in any way. ~ ~ During the period from the 1960’s to the late 1980’s this area became renowned as “flatland”, as so many of the old buildings were converted into apartments and bedsitters to house both the student population of the city and the country people who migrated to Dublin to work. I myself had two apartments in Ranelagh, one on Charleston Road in one of the magnificent Georgian houses. This has now been turned into an upmarket guesthouse, and indeed, with the coming of economic prosperity to Ireland in the last decade, many of the old houses are now being bought and restored to their former glory. ~ ~ Ranelagh village itself is a bustling and lively area, with many fine, old pubs, restaurants of every type and ethnic origin, and a fine selection of shops of every kind. One pub that merits special mention is “The Barge”, located just on
      the Dublin side of Ranelagh Bridge. In the evenings this is one of the busiest and trendiest pubs in the city, and during the summer months the adjoining Royal Canal is used as a place to sit and enjoy your pint while watching the world go by. During the day the pub does a fine selection of bar food, and I would recommend it for lunch if you decide to visit the area. ~ ~ Ranelagh is steeped in history. Although it was predominately a Unionist area in times past, four of the signatories of the 1916 Proclamation, among them Padraic Pearse, marched out from Ranelagh on that historic Easter Monday, never to return. It is an area well worth a visit if you are ever on holiday in Dublin.

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