‘Dutch Billys’

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  • #904316

    gunter
    Participant

    I’m working on the assumption that O’Colmain based his painting on an old photograph of the elbow in Fishamble Street, for now. I can’t find a better match for the particular characteristics of the streetscape.

    It would be a great photograph to find, if it can be found. I imagine a photograph like that would have surfaced by now if it was in any of the usual places, so it could take a while to ferret out.

    If the houses O’Colmain depicted were indeed on the Kennan’s site and were twin-gabled, as it appears, it may be possible to tentatively corroborate the accuracy of the depiction without necessarily finding the photograph it’s based on. Comparatively few Dublin builder/developers were associated with the construction of twin-gabled houses, it was a variation of a type and specialization, most had a background in the roofing trades, unsurprisingly.

    As it happens the particular builder/developer who is probably most associated with the construction of twin-gabled houses did develop a pair of new houses on the east side of Fishamble Street in 1728. He had acquired the lease of a site the previous December that then contained two old houses, which he knocked down. We have some quite detailed information on the dimensions of the property, but not many clues as to its exact location on the east side of the street.

    The same developer repeated the exercise in 1736, again buying a site with two old houses on it and redeveloping it as ‘two new large brick houses’. Again the location is on the east side of the street, but again the exact location is difficult to pinpoint. Essentially you have to identify the position of all the houses on one side of a street before you can be certain of the exact position of any individual house.

    I can think of a few people who will not be persuaded by this kind of construction on top of a supposition based on a dodgy, semi-impressionist, painting of an unidentified location, but that’s never stopped us before.

    http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/640x480q90/674/M6PNQw.jpg
    Fishamble Street from Rocque’s map. The Kennan’s site is just below the ‘R’ in STREET

    #924722

    Gnidleif
    Participant

    Have you considered Exchange Street Lower as an alternative location for Seamus O’Colmains’s streetscape?
    Exchange Street Lower

    #924847

    Gnidleif
    Participant

    An aerial photo of Dublin from a source that Paul mentioned. http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk

    Taking in Lower Exchange Street, and Fishamble Street before the re development of the Keenan’s iron works site.

    http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/xpw043444

    The same photo at zoom over the Lower Exchange street section.

    Dublin Aerial View 1933

    #924952

    Dab
    Participant

    Could be on to something there…

    What a dense, beautiful city Dublin once was

    #924961

    gunter
    Participant

    I think Lower Exchange Street, or Blind Quay as it used to be, is probably a less likely match for the O’Colmain streetscape than Fishamble Street, based on the width of the street, among other things.

    There is a Flora Mitchell view of Exchange Street, looking eastward towards the bend, which would also tend to suggest that O’Colmain’s view is not of that particular streetscape.

    Flora Mitchell's depiction of Exchange Street

    #925138

    Gnidleif
    Participant

    I agree that Fishamble Street is the more likely location.

    I had seen that Flora Mitchell view before so I had my doubts, but you never know how accurate a painting is. I’m still not entirely convinced it matches up with the aerial photo.

    What was leading me toward Blind Quay was the three ‘gable’ fronted buildings shown in the aerial view – that lead up to where the Czech Inn bar is today – they’re not on Rocque, I was thinking they were built over the house in O’Colmain’s painting that had been reduced to single story.

    Am I correct in saying this one is also looking eastward along Blind Quay? With Smock Alley theatre in the distance.
    Blind Quay

    #925149

    admin
    Keymaster

    Keenans as existing in 1866

    null

    #925178

    gunter
    Participant

    Your location is spot on, that pair of Billys faced westward onto Wood Quay. They featured in an article by Peter Walsh in ‘Viking Dublin Exposed, The Wood quay Saga’ published in 1984. The houses were located a little to the west of the medieval ‘Fyan’s Castle’, a rectangular tower on the circuit of the city walls.

    The house on the left was rebuilt in a Victorian gabled warehouse style soon after the picture was taken and both were subsequently demolished after Fishamble Street was extended to the quays.

    Interestingly the site had been occupied by one of Dublin’s first public jacks [Jakes] erected in the 1650s and when a Mr. Connor, gent, took a lease of the ground from the Corpo in 1674 he was obliged to reserve ‘the house of office in good condition for public use as heretofore’

    A ‘house of office’ or more descriptively a ‘house of ease’ being the polite term then in use for a toilet.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    That print of Kennans from the 1860s rather pours cold water on Fishamble Street being the location of the O’Colmain streetscape. Back to square one on that I think.

    #925185

    admin
    Keymaster

    Yup thats what I thought Gunter – just wanted to rain on your parade 😀

    #925193

    Dab
    Participant

    Could we be looking at it from the wrong end? What about from the Castle St corner, looking North?? The dog-leg is repeated here

    #925195

    Gnidleif
    Participant

    I like that description ‘house of ease’!

    Thanks for the information Gunter, very interesting. I had forgot about a photo I seen before in the NLI catalogue of Wood Quay, and wondered then about the building on the left being in the Victorian style, so that makes sense now.

    Dab, are you thinking maybe to the left of the ‘S’ in the section of Rocque posted above?

    #925232

    gunter
    Participant

    Gnidleif, reluctantly I think we have to accept that we could be both barking up the wrong tree with this, at either the Blind Quay or the Fishamble Street location. Also, I don’t think Dab’s idea works either.

    Rocque again with Fleece Alley high-lighted as a marker

    We know quite a lot about that part of the west side of Fishamble Street and most of the houses at this location were either earlier or later than we’re looking for. The one house in that block that looks to be from our period clearly had a single cruciform roof and therefore would have had a only single conventional gable. The photograph comes again from Peter Walsh’s excellent article we mentioned above, from thirty years ago.

    Fishamble Street looking north with one tall house in the distance about 30 feet north of Fleece Alley

    The same stretch in the late ’60s or so with a Corpo block on the site of the four storey house and showing the entrance to Fleece Alley in the distance.

    Photo from the DCC archive

    The entrance to Fleece Alley as it stood in gaunt isolation for many years before being buldozed.

    These street views show the gradient of the street dropping away, whereas the O’Colmain painting rather shows it rising, which is one of the reasons I was originally keen on the other side of Fishamble Street being the possible location.

    In the view below, note also the location of the two former Billys that faced west onto Wood Quay, with the northern one now made over in the Victorian warehouse style we talked about before.

    Another aerial view of Fishamble Street, this time from the north, again showing the Kennan's buildings on the south side of the elbow.

    Damn Paul and his inexhaustible supply of dodgy 19th century
    etchings.

    There a couple of other locations in the city where there is an elbow in the street and which once would have had houses of the right period, but I don’t really like any of them for it.

    I’m beginning to think O’Colmain was pulling our chain.

    #925256

    Gnidleif
    Participant

    A wild goose chase, but an interesting one all the same.

    That’s the problem with art, it can be a useful record in one sense, but in another, you can never be certain it was an accurate reflection (or in this case whether it existed at all).

    These Flora Mitchel paintings from the 1950’s depicting Bride Street.
    Bride Street - Flora Mitchell
    Bride Street - Flora Mitchell

    You might assume then, that the two houses of interest had truncated gables right up to the 1950s. However, this photograph of the same stretch in 1900 shows the houses with flat parapets.
    Bride Street 1900

    Same photograph at zoom.
    Bride Street 1900
    Reference:
    http://www.theiveaghtrust.ie/?page_id=644

    Now the gables may have been partially re-instated at some point in between, but more likely, the artist appreciated the houses for what they were, applied ‘licence’, and re-instated some aspects of their past.

    The strange thing is, ‘Bride street’ as depicted by Flora Mitchel is not unlike O’Colmains ‘Old Dublin street’. I wouldn’t be surprised if he re-worked it, incorporating aspects of Fishamble Street – The elbow, incline, lamp post etc.

    But I don’t think I want to go there! I reluctantly agree to move on.

    #926102

    admin
    Keymaster

    Good image of No.12 Aungier Street

    #943694

    admin
    Keymaster

    Just noticed the window layout on these houses on Clarendon Street

    http://archiseek.com/2014/1876-additions-st-teresas-church-clarendon-street-dublin/

  • Author
    Posts
  • #904316

    gunter
    Participant
    • Offline

    I’m working on the assumption that O’Colmain based his painting on an old photograph of the elbow in Fishamble Street, for now. I can’t find a better match for the particular characteristics of the streetscape.

    It would be a great photograph to find, if it can be found. I imagine a photograph like that would have surfaced by now if it was in any of the usual places, so it could take a while to ferret out.

    If the houses O’Colmain depicted were indeed on the Kennan’s site and were twin-gabled, as it appears, it may be possible to tentatively corroborate the accuracy of the depiction without necessarily finding the photograph it’s based on. Comparatively few Dublin builder/developers were associated with the construction of twin-gabled houses, it was a variation of a type and specialization, most had a background in the roofing trades, unsurprisingly.

    As it happens the particular builder/developer who is probably most associated with the construction of twin-gabled houses did develop a pair of new houses on the east side of Fishamble Street in 1728. He had acquired the lease of a site the previous December that then contained two old houses, which he knocked down. We have some quite detailed information on the dimensions of the property, but not many clues as to its exact location on the east side of the street.

    The same developer repeated the exercise in 1736, again buying a site with two old houses on it and redeveloping it as ‘two new large brick houses’. Again the location is on the east side of the street, but again the exact location is difficult to pinpoint. Essentially you have to identify the position of all the houses on one side of a street before you can be certain of the exact position of any individual house.

    I can think of a few people who will not be persuaded by this kind of construction on top of a supposition based on a dodgy, semi-impressionist, painting of an unidentified location, but that’s never stopped us before.

    http://imagizer.imageshack.us/v2/640x480q90/674/M6PNQw.jpg
    Fishamble Street from Rocque’s map. The Kennan’s site is just below the ‘R’ in STREET

    #924722

    Gnidleif
    Participant
    • Offline

    Have you considered Exchange Street Lower as an alternative location for Seamus O’Colmains’s streetscape?
    Exchange Street Lower

    #924847

    Gnidleif
    Participant
    • Offline

    An aerial photo of Dublin from a source that Paul mentioned. http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk

    Taking in Lower Exchange Street, and Fishamble Street before the re development of the Keenan’s iron works site.

    http://www.britainfromabove.org.uk/image/xpw043444

    The same photo at zoom over the Lower Exchange street section.

    Dublin Aerial View 1933

    #924952

    Dab
    Participant
    • Offline

    Could be on to something there…

    What a dense, beautiful city Dublin once was

    #924961

    gunter
    Participant
    • Offline

    I think Lower Exchange Street, or Blind Quay as it used to be, is probably a less likely match for the O’Colmain streetscape than Fishamble Street, based on the width of the street, among other things.

    There is a Flora Mitchell view of Exchange Street, looking eastward towards the bend, which would also tend to suggest that O’Colmain’s view is not of that particular streetscape.

    Flora Mitchell's depiction of Exchange Street

    #925138

    Gnidleif
    Participant
    • Offline

    I agree that Fishamble Street is the more likely location.

    I had seen that Flora Mitchell view before so I had my doubts, but you never know how accurate a painting is. I’m still not entirely convinced it matches up with the aerial photo.

    What was leading me toward Blind Quay was the three ‘gable’ fronted buildings shown in the aerial view – that lead up to where the Czech Inn bar is today – they’re not on Rocque, I was thinking they were built over the house in O’Colmain’s painting that had been reduced to single story.

    Am I correct in saying this one is also looking eastward along Blind Quay? With Smock Alley theatre in the distance.
    Blind Quay

    #925149

    admin
    Keymaster
    • Offline

    Keenans as existing in 1866

    null

    #925178

    gunter
    Participant
    • Offline

    Your location is spot on, that pair of Billys faced westward onto Wood Quay. They featured in an article by Peter Walsh in ‘Viking Dublin Exposed, The Wood quay Saga’ published in 1984. The houses were located a little to the west of the medieval ‘Fyan’s Castle’, a rectangular tower on the circuit of the city walls.

    The house on the left was rebuilt in a Victorian gabled warehouse style soon after the picture was taken and both were subsequently demolished after Fishamble Street was extended to the quays.

    Interestingly the site had been occupied by one of Dublin’s first public jacks [Jakes] erected in the 1650s and when a Mr. Connor, gent, took a lease of the ground from the Corpo in 1674 he was obliged to reserve ‘the house of office in good condition for public use as heretofore’

    A ‘house of office’ or more descriptively a ‘house of ease’ being the polite term then in use for a toilet.

    _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _ _

    That print of Kennans from the 1860s rather pours cold water on Fishamble Street being the location of the O’Colmain streetscape. Back to square one on that I think.

    #925185

    admin
    Keymaster
    • Offline

    Yup thats what I thought Gunter – just wanted to rain on your parade 😀

    #925193

    Dab
    Participant
    • Offline

    Could we be looking at it from the wrong end? What about from the Castle St corner, looking North?? The dog-leg is repeated here

    #925195

    Gnidleif
    Participant
    • Offline

    I like that description ‘house of ease’!

    Thanks for the information Gunter, very interesting. I had forgot about a photo I seen before in the NLI catalogue of Wood Quay, and wondered then about the building on the left being in the Victorian style, so that makes sense now.

    Dab, are you thinking maybe to the left of the ‘S’ in the section of Rocque posted above?

    #925232

    gunter
    Participant
    • Offline

    Gnidleif, reluctantly I think we have to accept that we could be both barking up the wrong tree with this, at either the Blind Quay or the Fishamble Street location. Also, I don’t think Dab’s idea works either.

    Rocque again with Fleece Alley high-lighted as a marker

    We know quite a lot about that part of the west side of Fishamble Street and most of the houses at this location were either earlier or later than we’re looking for. The one house in that block that looks to be from our period clearly had a single cruciform roof and therefore would have had a only single conventional gable. The photograph comes again from Peter Walsh’s excellent article we mentioned above, from thirty years ago.

    Fishamble Street looking north with one tall house in the distance about 30 feet north of Fleece Alley

    The same stretch in the late ’60s or so with a Corpo block on the site of the four storey house and showing the entrance to Fleece Alley in the distance.

    Photo from the DCC archive

    The entrance to Fleece Alley as it stood in gaunt isolation for many years before being buldozed.

    These street views show the gradient of the street dropping away, whereas the O’Colmain painting rather shows it rising, which is one of the reasons I was originally keen on the other side of Fishamble Street being the possible location.

    In the view below, note also the location of the two former Billys that faced west onto Wood Quay, with the northern one now made over in the Victorian warehouse style we talked about before.

    Another aerial view of Fishamble Street, this time from the north, again showing the Kennan's buildings on the south side of the elbow.

    Damn Paul and his inexhaustible supply of dodgy 19th century
    etchings.

    There a couple of other locations in the city where there is an elbow in the street and which once would have had houses of the right period, but I don’t really like any of them for it.

    I’m beginning to think O’Colmain was pulling our chain.

    #925256

    Gnidleif
    Participant
    • Offline

    A wild goose chase, but an interesting one all the same.

    That’s the problem with art, it can be a useful record in one sense, but in another, you can never be certain it was an accurate reflection (or in this case whether it existed at all).

    These Flora Mitchel paintings from the 1950’s depicting Bride Street.
    Bride Street - Flora Mitchell
    Bride Street - Flora Mitchell

    You might assume then, that the two houses of interest had truncated gables right up to the 1950s. However, this photograph of the same stretch in 1900 shows the houses with flat parapets.
    Bride Street 1900

    Same photograph at zoom.
    Bride Street 1900
    Reference:
    http://www.theiveaghtrust.ie/?page_id=644

    Now the gables may have been partially re-instated at some point in between, but more likely, the artist appreciated the houses for what they were, applied ‘licence’, and re-instated some aspects of their past.

    The strange thing is, ‘Bride street’ as depicted by Flora Mitchel is not unlike O’Colmains ‘Old Dublin street’. I wouldn’t be surprised if he re-worked it, incorporating aspects of Fishamble Street – The elbow, incline, lamp post etc.

    But I don’t think I want to go there! I reluctantly agree to move on.

    #926102

    admin
    Keymaster
    • Offline

    Good image of No.12 Aungier Street

    #943694

    admin
    Keymaster
    • Offline

    Just noticed the window layout on these houses on Clarendon Street

    http://archiseek.com/2014/1876-additions-st-teresas-church-clarendon-street-dublin/

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