Grafton Street winds its way uphill from College Green to St. Stephen’s Green. From where the traffic veers left into Nassau Street, it is pedestrianised. Molly Malone used rest her barrow here, but she has wandered off down Sussex Street to the west. Grafton Street is the main southside axis for quality shopping and cafe society. Trendy, thronged and throbbing with a multitude of buskers, this is the place to see and be seen. Street performers have included the Hothouse Flowers, the Waterboys, Rodrigo y Gabriela and Glen Hansard. The ghost of Phil Lynott might breeze by whistling Old Town.
Grafton Street was named for Henry Fitzroy, the Earl of Grafton and illegitimate son of Charles II who owned the land hereabouts. He died at 27, leading Williamite forces against the Jacobites in Cork in 1790.
Right here, right now, I emerge from Duke Street with my supply of Nespresso. To my right Bewley’s Oriental Cafe may beckon with its aromas of coffee beans, or I might fade into Johnson’s Court for a hidden prayer in Clarendon Street Church and light a candle for my mother. Grogan’s Castle Inn, the Powerscourt Centre and the Dublin City Markets lie that way. Straight up into the glare, the street opens onto St Stephen’s Green.
Dublin can be heaven with coffee at eleven
And a stroll in Stephen’s Green
There’s no need to hurry, there’s no need to worry
You’re a king and the lady’s a queen
Dublin Saunter as sung by Noel Purcell, actor of stage and screen, has become an anthem for Dublin’s most positive vibrations. It was written for him by friend Leo Maguire who also wrote the Whistling Gypsy. The song evokes summer, but a summer for the soul. It’s yours anytime. I’ll echo its call, and with it send my greetings to all of you, for Christmas and the New Year.
Grafton Street’s a wonderland, there’s magic in the air
There’s diamonds in the lady’s eyes and gold-dust in her hair
And if you don’t believe me, come and meet me there
In Dublin on a sunny Summer morning