Portobello is an area of Dublin in Ireland, in the south city centre, bounded to the south by the Grand Canal.
It came into existence as a small suburb south of the city in the 18th century, centred on Richmond Street. During the following century it was completely developed, transforming an area of private estates and farmland into solid Victorian red-bricked living quarters for the middle classes on the larger streets, and terraced housing bordering the canal for the working classes.
As a fast-expanding suburb during the 19th century Portobello attracted many upwardly-mobile families whose members went on to play important roles in politics, the arts and the sciences. Towards the end of the century came an influx of Jews, refugees from pogroms in Eastern Europe, which gave the name "Little Jerusalem" to the area.
The original name of Victoria Street was Kingsland Park, which was developed from 1865 by Frederick Stokes. Some of the houses in this street remained empty for some time after they were built and were frequented by "ladies of the night", who catered to the nearby Portobello Barracks. As a result, the street acquired a bad reputation and respectable families moved out. Even after the ladies moved on, the bad reputation of the street remained, and thus the name was changed to Victoria Street. For a similar reason, Liverpool Road became Portobello Road and Bloomfield Place/Rosanna Place became Windsor Terrace.
A few years ago I went on a guided walking tour of the Grand Canal and according to the guide in 1861 a horrible tragedy occurred at La Touche Bridge when a horse drawn bus plunged into the Grand Canal killing 6 passengers. The conductor was rescued by a passing policeman.
About 12 years ago I read in the Irish Times that the 19TH century Kingsland Church at St Kevin’s Road in Portobello was to be sold on behalf of the trustees of the Methodist church. At the time the asking price was about €1.3 million for the building which ceased being used as a church in the 1940s. From the 1950s, the church was used as the Women’s Only Employment Exchange. It would appear that this building is currently used by the Department Of Social Welfare as an Employment Exchange and its official address is 29 Victoria St, Dublin 8, D08 E6C1. [NOTE: It is possible that the building has recently ceased to be an employment exchange].
Victoria Street off St. Kevin's Road was originally named Kingsland Park and apparently is attracted a unwelcome reputation as a "red light" area as some of the houses were occupied by "ladies of the night".
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