Local History

The medical centre is housed in a building with a listed facade that dates from the early nineteenth century. We know that in 1850 an engraver occupied it by the name of Robert Mahony and in more recent times it was an optician's shop and prior to that it was the business premises of a razor blade company. Another occupant, a Jewish jeweller by the name of Aaron Figatner, was even mentioned in the Sirens episode in James Joyce's Ulysses.

Wellington Quay was the last of the Liffey Quays to be constructed. It was named in honour of Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington, following his victory over Napoleon Bonaparte at the battle of Waterloo. The nearby Halfpenny Bridge was also named in Wellington's honour and was originally known as Wellington Bridge when it was officially opened in 1816. The Wellington Monument in the Phoenix Park (located one mile up the River Liffey) is further acknowledgement from the city of Dublin of the Iron Duke's major victory. It is interesting to note that the bronze relief panels on the Wellington Monument were cast from French canon that were captured at the Battle of Waterloo.

The easternmost section of today's Wellington Quay used to be known as Custom House Quay and was the site of the original Custom House, which was located in the vicinity of the present day Clarence Hotel. In the early nineteenth century Essex Bridge (site of today's Grattan Bridge) was the westernmost bridge across the Liffey. Below that point the Liffey was a tidal estuary until the Quays were completed, the construction of Wellington Quay being the final link in that major construction project.

James Malton's print of Essex Bridge in 1797 is an interesting study from Capel Street, which was one of Dublin's major shopping streets in the Georgian era. The view looks south across the Liffey toward City Hall and you can clearly see the mast of a sailing ship close to the parapet of the bridge. Prior to the opening of the Halfpenny Bridge sailing ships used to navigate up the Liffey and dock at Custom House Quay.

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This next print is a view of the old Custom House, which was produced several years before Malton's famous print and provides a good view of that building and the nearby Essex Bridge (replaced by Grattan Bridge) from the north side of the Liffey.

This view is particularly interesting because you can see several tall buildings with their gable ends rising from the edge of the riverbank. These buildings and the old Custom House were demolished soon after Malton made his print of Essex Bridge and the rubble from the demolition was used as dry filling for the construction of Wellington Quay.

This view from the south bank of the Liffey dates from the 1820's and depicts the recently completed Wellington Quay and Halfpenny Bridge. The Liffey Quays were now complete with the Halfpenny Bridge being the easternmost bridge on the River Liffey.


Arthur Wellesley, 1st Duke of Wellington

Arthur Wesley (later changed to Wellesley) was the fifth son of the Earl of Mornington and was born in 1769 in Mornington House (now the Merrion Hotel) in Merrion Street, just across the road from today's Government Buildings. The date of his birth was a matter of some confusion even in his own lifetime. Some say he was born on the 29th April and others say that the birth date was the 1st May. He was the son of Garret Wesley, the 1st Earl of Mornington, whose country home was Dangan Castle in County Meath.

Arthur was baptised in St Peter's Church in Aungier Street, which has since been demolished and is now the site of the YMCA. In later years he was to be married to Kitty Pakenham, an ancestor of today's Lord Longford. Their marriage took place in 1806 in St George's Church Hardwicke Place (beside the Children's Hospital in Temple Street).


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The Duke of Wellington's military exploits are well known to many people but not many people are aware of his career in politics and his close involvement in Irish affairs.

  • He was educated at the Diocesan School at Trim in County Meath and later attended Eton between 1781 and 1784. In later life the Duke once said that "the battle of Waterloo was won on the playing fields of Eton".
  • During the years 1787 to 1793 he was aide de camp to John Fane, tenth Earl of Westmoreland and Lord Lieutenant in Ireland. Westmoreland Street, one of the boundaries of Temple Bar, was named after the Earl.
  • On the 30th April 1790 Wellington was elected to the Irish Parliament as MP for Trim. It is intriguing to note that he would have been an MP in that parliament at the same time as Henry Grattan. He continued to represent the constituency until 1797 when he left to go to India.
  • He directed the military campaign in India where his elder brother Lord Mornington was Governor General.
  • He was knighted in 1804.
  • Wellesley became Tory MP for Rye in 1806.
  • In 1807 he was appointed chief secretary for Ireland. During his tenure as chief secretary he established a police force in Dublin known as the Parochial Watch. This force preceded the formation of the Metropolitan police in 1836. The Parochial Watch was made up of young men who were armed with short swords and at night carried heavy pistols.
  • In 1819 he was appointed to the British cabinet.
  • He left the cabinet in 1827 upon his appointment as commander in chief of the British army.
  • At the insistence of King George IV he was named Prime Minister in 1828.
  • In 1829 Wellington managed to get the support of Robert Peel, and together they forced the Catholic Emancipation Act through Parliament. After much heated debate, Wellington convinced the King to accept it. The Catholic Emancipation Act was passed against a wave of controversy, protest, and uproar. Wellington subsequently brought down his own government in 1830.
  • He remained in Parliament and was briefly prime minister again in 1834.
  • When the Tories returned to power again he was foreign minister (1834-1835) in the cabinet of Sir Robert Peel
  • In 1842 Wellington was again made commander in chief of the British army, a post he retained until his death.
  • Died in September 1852 and is buried in St Paul's Cathedral.Back to Top

The various prints in this section of our website have been reproduced with the generous permission of the author Pat Liddy from his book "Temple Bar - an illustrated history" (published by Temple Bar Properties).