Heritage Sites of Co. Dublin

The Museum Building, Trinity College Dublin

The Museum Building is described in detail on the Making Victorian Dublin website.

Fruit and Vegetable Market, St Michan’s Street and St Mary’s Lane, Dublin City

In Dublin fish, fruit and vegetable markets have long been important centres for the distribution of produce.  A few streets beyond the northside Liffey quays two market buildings were erected in the 1880s to replace the older eighteenth century circular Ormond Market at Dawson Square.  One was for fruit and vegetables and the other for fish.  The Fruit and Vegetable Market on St Michan’s Street and Mary’s Lane is without doubt a joy to witness. Designed by the city engineer Parke Neville, who died in 1886, it was finished by his successor Emanuel Spencer Harty (1838–1922) and William Cranwell Wilson (1853–1918). Messrs Connolly and Son of Upper Dominick Street erected the building in 1892, which was carried out under the supervision of Charles O’Toole, Clerk of Works.

The entrances are marked with porticos of dressed and carved pale grey Ballinasloe and Tullamore limestones used in the twin columns, Corinthian capitals, keystones and sculptures.  The figurative sculptures by Harrisons include representations of trade and justice above the Mary Lane entrance and the city arms or crest. Above the St Michan’s Street entrance is a large plaque in a pale limestone possibly from Portland or Bath carved with a garland of fruit.

The exterior piers are executed in granite from Ballyknockan, Co. Wicklow. During the initial construction stages a strike took place in the quarries that considerably delayed works on site and so granite from Glencree, Co. Wicklow, which was considered to be inferior and had been specified for some less obvious elements, was substituted to ensure continuation of the build. These granites form part of the Leinster Batholith, a large body of various granite units or plutons some 415 million years old, which stretches from Killiney in Co. Dublin to Co. Carlow. Both granites used in this building are fine-grained and composed of closely interlocking crystals, approximately 3 mm in size, of clear glassy quartz, white feldspar, and two varieties of mica: black biotite and silver muscovite.

The outstanding feature of the building, which spans over an acre and a half, is its terracotta decorative exterior arch stops representing fruit, vegetables and fish—bananas, melons, oranges, peaches, pears, pineapple, rhubarb, beetroot, Brussels sprouts, carrots, celery, lettuce, potatoes, tomatoes, turnips, eels, mackerel, salmon, sole and even a lobster. These were modelled by Charles Harrison and Sons of Great Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street) and together with the tiles above the arches they were then cast in the famous Ruabon Works of Henry Dennis in North Wales.  The red brick used was burnt at the Portmarnock Brick and Terracotta Works and the yellow at the Mount Argus Brick & Tile Company in Harold’s Cross. The brick arrangement in the blind arches forming chevron and other patterns is particularly striking and shows the considerable abilities of Dublin bricklayers. 

The interior walling of the market building is lined to a height of five feet with glazed blue and white brick. The presence of yellow and red brick also adds to its polychromatic charm.

In 2019 the Market closed for refurbishment and it is unfortunate that the contemporary Fish Market, which was situated across the road on St Michan’s Street, was demolished very recently.

Further reading:

Geology of Co. Dublin

The oldest rocks in Dublin occur on Howth Head where Cambrian shales and quartzites crop out. These were deposited in an ocean 500 million years ago [Ma] that separated two continents. It slowly closed so that during the Ordovician period (490-450 Ma) the crust was unstable and volcanoes began to erupt at what is now Portrane and Lambay producing a distinctive green flecky rock called Andesite. These rocks were deposited in a shallow ocean than contained many organisms including corals and trilobites.

Later during the Devonian period (405 Ma) further disruption caused the granite of the Dublin mountains to be injected deep within the surface crust. As it did so it baked the rocks through which it moved and metamorphosed them into schist, which can be seen at Killiney. The molten granite magma slowly cooled and formed the pale rocks that were once used as a building material in the city. Some muddy sediments were deposited in the Silurian sea, but any Devonian rocks have now been eroded away.

During the Lower Carboniferous the area was covered by a warm shallow tropical sea where corals, crinoids, brachiopods, lived. Later, rivers carried muds and sands that overlie the limestone in north Co. Dublin. During the Ice Age a glacier flowed down the Irish Sea and carried rocks from Scotland, including a distinctive bluish microgranite from Ailsa Craig, and this ice met with ice flowing from the Irish Midlands. When it melted it deposited glacial till or boulder clay which is well-exposed along Killiney beach.

Map legend: Geological Map of Limerick (based on GSI 1:1,000,000 map 2003). Yellow: Cambrian; Pink: Ordovician & Silurian; Pale green: Silurian; Light blue: Lower Carboniferous limestone; Dark green: Upper Carboniferous shales; Red: Granite.