O’Connell Street is the Irish equivalent of the French Champs Elysées. This avenue is part of the main artery of Dublin city centre, and stretches for 500 metres and 49 metres wide, making it one of the widest avenues in all of Europe! The avenue has become a commercial and tourist thoroughfare for Irish passers-by, where you can find major historical monuments as well as large tourist brands, fast-food chains and a few hotels. Here’s a glimpse of what you shouldn’t miss!
This grand avenue was not always named as we know it today.
From its creation until 1924, the Dubliners called it “Sackville Street”. The name was eventually changed to “O’Connell Street” in honour of Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), a national hero who was committed throughout his life to the peaceful struggle for Irish independence and an end to anti-Catholic discrimination.
Since then, O’Connell Street has become Dublin’s main thoroughfare. It is home to many shops and restaurants, as well as hotels and other accommodation.
A real tourist curiosity, the Speyer is actually a gigantic conical sculpture, built in the middle of O’Connell Street. Its base, 3 meters in diameter, stretches and narrows to a height of 120 meters, in a point of 15cm in diameter. You will be able to observe that the top is illuminated every night with a bluish light, which makes it an excellent way to spot O’Connell Street at night, if you wander lost in other streets of the city: the tip of the Spires can be easily seen from almost everywhere!
For the record, the Speyer replaces an old column: the Nelson Pillar, a 37-metre tall and very unpopular building, which was built by the British in tribute to their victory at Trafalgar. Revolted by this building to the glory of the British, the IRA hastened to blow up part of the column, and it was only in 1999 that the Speyer project was born. It symbolized an Irish revival, as well as the Independence of the Republic of Ireland without a British presence.
Do not hesitate to visit it: it is the equivalent of the French Eiffel Tower, but in the Irish style!
It is located south of the avenue, in front of the O’Connell Bridge, and was built in honour of Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), whose avenue was named in his honour. This very imposing statue shows Daniel O’Connell in his lawyer’s outfit and in a most dignified and solemn posture.
This statue, inherited in the 1920s and 1930s, pays homage to the Irish nationalists who fought to create Ireland as we know it today.
At the other end of the avenue, to the north, is a second statue, this time of Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891), an Irish politician who, like Daniel O’Connell (1775-1847), fought in the name of Irish Independence by encouraging the vote for the Home Rule, and by fighting against the inequalities targeting the Irish peasant class.
It is therefore no coincidence that Charles Stewart Parnell (1846-1891) is on this avenue: like his neighbour, he is a true national hero.
The General Post Office is located at Speyer and is a landmark in Irish history. This building is none other than the site of the Irish National Post Office, which is still in operation today. (You will be able to post a small postcard there for your loved ones).
Built in 1814, the General Post Office was considered a strategic building on the occasion of the Easter Uprising in 1916. The IRB seized it during the uprising, and the building was somewhat damaged and renovated a few years later.
There’s no risk of starving or dying of thirst on O’Connell Street: the avenue is packed with Pubs, Restaurants and Fast-Foods. Among them, you’ll find: