Grafton Street in Dublin

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Grafton Street is one of the two principal shopping streets in Dublin city centre, the other being Henry Street. It runs from St. Stephen's Green in the south (at the highest point of the street) to College Green in the north (to the lowest point). In 2008, Grafton Street was the fifth most expensive main shopping street in the world, at €5,621/m².


The street was named after Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, the illegitimate son of Charles II of England who owned land in the area. The street was developed from a then existing country lane by the Dawson family in 1708, after whom the parallel Dawson Street is named.

After O'Connell Bridge (then called 'Carlisle Bridge') was built to span the River Liffey, Grafton Street turned from a fashionable residential street into a busy cross-city route.

Since the 1980s, the street has been mostly pedestrianised, with the exception of the short stretch running between Nassau Street and College Green. This short stretch contains two notable Dublin landmarks, the eighteenth century Trinity College Provost's House, home to the head of the college, and the late twentieth century statue of Molly Malone, which has become a popular Dublin meeting place. A life-size bronze statue of Phil Lynott was unveiled on Harry Street, off Grafton Street near the Stephen's Green end, on 19 August 2005.

Bewley's Oriental Café, a Grafton Street institution since its opening in 1927, announced at the end of October 2004 that it would be closing before Christmas, along with its Westmoreland Street café. Following a campaign by many, including the then Mayor of Dublin, Catherine Byrne, the café on Grafton Street, which had closed, was reopened, including its small performance area.

Buskers, including musicians, poets and mime artists commonly perform to the shopping crowds. This scene was portrayed in the 2006 film Once, starring Glen Hansard of The Frames, a former Grafton Street busker.

Canadian crooner Michael Bublé switched on the Christmas lights on Grafton Street in 2011.

Notable buskers

  • Paddy Casey - ex-Grafton Street busker, now a successful musician
  • Mic Christopher - musician
  • Glen Hansard - ex-Grafton Street busker, Academy Award winner, now fronts The Frames and The Swell Season
  • David McSavage - stand-up comedy and music, now television star
  • John Nee - imitated Charlie Chaplin
  • Damien Rice - ex-Grafton Street busker, now an internationally-renowned musician
  • Roadmage - comedy magic show
  • Rodrigo y Gabriela - Mexican guitar playing duo
  • The Diceman - deceased game store owner and street performer during the 1980s and 1990s

Popular culture

  • In the song "Before the Worst" performed by The Script, Grafton Street is mentioned in the lyrics; "It was Grafton Street on a rainy night, I was down on one knee and you were mine for life".
  • American singer-songwriter Nanci Griffith wrote and recorded a song called "On Grafton Street".
  • Bagatelle, an Irish rock band in the 1970s refer to Grafton Street in their song "Summer in Dublin"; "And young people walking down Grafton Street, everyone looking so well".
  • Noel Purcell made the song "Dublin Saunter" well known; it includes the line "Grafton Street's a wonderland, there's magic in the air".
  • There is a line in the poem "On Raglan Road" by poet Patrick Kavanagh: "On Grafton Street in November we tripped lightly along the ledge".
  • Dido features a track entitled "Grafton Street" on her latest album Safe Trip Home. This song is a tribute to Dido's deceased father, who was Irish.
  • Grafton Street is mentioned several times in James Joyce's Dubliners.

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