Did you know that there is a carved stone dragon perched on the top of a three-storey building on Dublin’s historic Moore Street?
As you can see a capstone (chimera or gargoyle) in the shape of a dragon is positioned at the top of no. 55 Moore Street. Local legend suggests that its wings were chipped away by sharp shooters of the 6th Sherwood Foresters at the Parnell-Moore St barricade during the Easter Rising.
Regarding the building itself, as far as I can work out, there was a butcher on this premises from at least the 1920s until the early 1990s.
The death of a James Canavan, listed as a butcher living at the address, in April 1924 was reported in most of the national newspapers.
In November 1905, the Irish Independent noted that a James Byrne of 55 Moore Street along with two other friends were fined £1 each after being found in William Quirke’s pub in Blackrock. Although one of them said they had gone out for “pleasure and fresh air”, they were not indeed bona- fide travellers. At the time, public house could supply liquor to a Bona-Fide Traveler during prohibited hours when the premises was otherwise required to be closed. As you can imagine, many people would travel out to the suburban pubs and try to claim this status for a late night tipple.
In July 1934, the Irish Press reported that Patrick Henry (19) had stolen £35 worth of property from his uncle Peter McKeogh of 55 Moore Street. Tut tut.
The Martin family ran a butchers at this premises from 1937 to 1991. During the 1960s, there were up to 21 (!) different butchers on Moore Street but Martin’s was always considered one of the best.
A view of Moore Street from 1960 with dragon clearly visible. From this angle, it doesn’t look unlike a daredevil cat trying to get a better view of the street below.
A recent view of the dragon. Notice the overgrown weeds and grass growing out of the building.
Artist Catherine Ryan has incorporated the dragon, along with some other more famous Dublin architectural imagery, into this wonderful painting:
All in all, it’s one of my favourite little pieces of unusual Dublin architecture – of which there are many.
(Thanks especially to Eamon Martin for the photos. He worked in the butchers at no. 55 from 1955 – 1991.)