LivingTravelA short guide to Dublin's O'Connell Street

A short guide to Dublin's O'Connell Street

O’Connell Street is Dublin’s main street, the widest (but not the longest) street in the Irish capital, and as close to being ‘Dublin City Center’ as it gets. And despite being overshadowed by the glitzy Grafton Street on Southside, O’Connell Street and the surrounding areas remain Northside’s premier shopping destination.

From a tourist point of view, it’s pretty easy – basically everyone has to see O’Connell Street when visiting Dublin, and most visitors won’t be able to avoid Grand Boulevard anyway. Most buses run on this street, most Dublin tours touch this street.

O’Connell Street in a nutshell

O’Connell Street is Dublin’s main street, with impressive architecture, including the historic General Post Office. It is also effectively the center of Dublin and home to the ‘Spire’, the tallest sculpture in the world.

Having said that, the area can be very busy during office and shopping hours and can be a bit ‘rough’ at night.

Formerly called ‘Sackville Street’, O’Connell Street is undoubtedly the most impressive street in Dublin. Although relatively short, it is reputed to be the widest urban street in Europe. Numerous monuments, historical buildings and a lively atmosphere await the visitor.

What to see on O’Connell Street in Dublin

While O’Connell Street is ultimately a typical city street and has some ugly spots, thanks to misguided attempts at modernization (e.g. the former Eircom and council offices, both now closed), its Absolute dominance of downtown north of Liffey makes it a must-see in every way. Walking south from Parnell Square towards O’Connell Bridge you will see

  • The Parnell Monument, showing the leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party in full oratory
  • A taxi rank with its own Shrine of the Sacred Heart
  • The old Carlton cinema with its fake painted windows
  • The ‘spire’ , made of gleaming steel with an illuminated tip (reputed to be visible throughout Dublin; this is an excellent example of Irish history, as the spire is not even visible on the side streets of O ‘Street Connell Street), due to the tall buildings along the way), the tallest sculpture in the world and nicknamed “The Stiletto in the Ghetto” or simply “The Needle.”
  • A statue of James Joyce a few meters away and in front of the Kylemore Café, in an almost Chaplin pose, commonly known as “The Prick with the Stick”
  • The General Post Office , the main focus of the 1916 Easter Rising, the main post office in Ireland, and with a modern museum to boot
  • Cleary’s department store, although closed for some time and suffering a kind of development limbo
  • The statue of Jim Larkin (the union organizer “Big Jim” is exhorting the working masses to get on their knees, or perhaps raising their hands in despair)
  • The massive O’Connell Monument with an allegorical depiction of all of Ireland, still showing bullet holes from the Easter Rising in some statues

The best way to enjoy O’Connell Street is as a flaneur (an aimless walker with time to spare, an almost forgotten art), not looking for certain hot spots, but walking calmly down the street, observing the architecture, the works of art and the people of Dublin. The street is always bustling and busy, even late at night (although a lot of homeless and not very social people can sometimes give a negative impression after dark). And the best way to get up and down O’Connell Street is the central reservation, where once the streetcars passed they were rarely used these days, even when the sidewalks are clogged.

If you want to experience O’Connell Street in peace and quiet, come on a Sunday morning, when all of Dublin seems to be almost deserted until 11am. If you want to experience Hell on Earth, try browsing O’Connell Street on any shopping weekend just before Christmas mid-afternoon, when being hit by a bus almost seems like the best alternative to cope with the masses. .

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