RICHMOND STREET SOUTH
I refer to the street as South Richmond Street rather than Richmond Street South. In case your are wondering about it there is a North Richmond Street but it is on the North Side of the city (O’Connell Secondary School is located there).
When I was young I visited the street once a week as it was home to the Caroline Record Shop a few years later I opened my own record shop in Bray County Wicklow and then moved on again to work for Memorex (magnetic tapes) in California.
A number of years ago I mentioned South Richmond Street was at the same time interesting and ugly mainly because there were so many buildings that are derelict or in very poor condition. Some of the derelict buildings have gone but the street has not become less ugly.
The 1837 Ordnance Survey map showed one building on the western side of Richmond St. (excluding property belonging to the Portobello Hotel), which corresponds to no. 34, which was the Caroline Records shop (closed in 2003).
The hotel at the nearby harbour was opened in 1807 (the architect was James Colbourne). In 1858 it was taken over by a Catholic order of nuns, who used it as an asylum (St. Mary’s) for blind girls. A few years later they successfully appealed to the Guardians of the South Dublin Union for some finance (it cost £10 to keep a girl for a year), though the Irish Times in an editorial frowned upon this proselytising by “Romanists”, while they lauded the efforts of the Protestant-run “Home for Orphans” at 7 South Richmond Street (which advertised frequently for “fresh souls to save” in the same newspaper).
Ten years later the Asylum was sold to a Mr. Isaac Cole, who renovated it and returned it to its original function as a hotel, to accommodate 100 persons. It was popular among officers visiting the nearby Portobello Barracks (who would occasionally pop across South Richmond Street to the Grand Canal Tavern for a drink) and claimed it was the nearest hotel to the Royal Dublin Society grounds. However, it was slow in providing catering facilities – in 1871 a Rathmines businessman, in a letter to the Irish Times, lamented the absence of restaurants in the neighbourhood, and enjoined upon Mr. Cole to provide same, preferably a two-course meal for two shillings (the price to include beer and punch).