Dublin City

Workers unearth old Dublin city basin that was a social hotspot in the 1830s

The basin – which supplied drinking water to 90 streets – is located near St James’s Hospital in Dublin 8.

DUBLIN CITY COUNCIL workers have unearthed part of an old city basin that once supplied the south of the city with drinking water, and was considered the go-to place for outdoor socialising in the 1830s. 

Long since filled in, the city basin, which was situated between what is now the St James’s Hospital campus and the Guinness Storehouse, was once part of the Grand Canal’s original mainline from Inchicore to Grand Canal Harbour. 

Back in the day, the canal linked the harbour and the basin, and the walls of the semi-circular harbour are still visible beside the Guinness storehouse. 

Once this part of the canal was closed in 1974, the harbour and the basin were filled in. 

The part of the basin – originally a long, narrow structure – which has been rediscovered is just past the Fatima Luas stop in Dublin 8, where works are ongoing to regenerate the parkland at Rialto known locally as the Linear Park or the Dry Canal.

A street running perpendicular to the Luas line at that point is still called Basin View to this day, with the Basin Street Flats complex nearby. 

IMG_7695 Laura Byrne / The Journal Laura Byrne / The Journal / The Journal

Though the city basin was originally built to increase Dublin’s water supply in 1721 (it was capable of supplying the residents and businesses of 90 streets), it eventually became a place for wealthy citizens to take fresh air, according to an account by Sir John Thomas Gilbert in A History of the City of Dublin Volume 2. He was not, however, a huge fan of the surrounding area, writing:

“The entrance is by a neat iron gate from Basin Lane and Pig Town, the latter appropriately so called, from being perpetually infested with those animals, and forming by its filth a strong contrast to the salubrious air and cheerful tranquillity of the scene within.”

The Liberties Dublin, a business and community network, shared an image of the recently-found part of the basin. 

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