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General Post Office (GPO), O'Connell Street, Dublin 1

Excavation Licence no. 14E0115, 2014




Test trenching in the GPO inner courtyard took place over three days between the 6th and the 9th May 2014. Six test trenches, each 2m x 1m were cut over the area of the present courtyard which is now mainly used as a bicycle park.

The project is for the development of an exhibition centre which will be partly located within the east courtyard of the GPO complex. The courtyard is approximately 35m x 17m and the plinth is approximately 0.6m in height. The proposed finished floor level of the new exhibition centre will be approximately the same as the surrounding basement and this will therefore necessitate the removal of the plinth. Currently, there are a number of drainage and electrical services buried in the plinth and these will be relocated as part of these works.

The General Post Office (GPO), the building of which was commenced in 1814, is situated on present day O Connell Street. O'Connell Street appears to have been undeveloped until the late 17th century. It is shown on Bernard de Gommes map of 1673 as a green area to the east of the ‘Abbey Parke’, or lands belong to St. Mary’s Abbey. There is no prehistoric or medieval arcaheology or history relating to the site apart from the fact that the lands were relatively close to those of medieval Cistercian house and lands of St. Mary’s Abbey.

Situated on the north side of the Liffey, the area of the GPO was outside the medieval metropolis of Dublin which was mainly on the south side. It was just east of the lands of St. Mary’s Abbey. Until the 17th century, the south area of O’Connell’s Street just below Abbey Street would have been under water or intertidal (as shown on Clarke’s map of medieval Dublin) till reclamation from the Liffey. The area of the GPO is shown clear of development on Bernard de Gomme's map of 1673. It was, however, soon after, developed by Henry Moore, Earl of Drogheda who laid out the first streets in this area in the late 17th century. The familiar street names close to the GPO, Moore Street, Henry Street, Earl’s Street and Drogheda Street (the origin of present day O’Connell Street) originated from the namd and title of the enterprising earl.

In the early 18th century, Drogheda Street, the street which was to develop first into Sackville Street (to be later renamed O’Connell Street), only ran as far as Abbey Street on its south side - where it ended in a T junction - as can be seen on Charles Brooking’s map of 1728. In the 1740s, a property developer, Luke Gardiner, acquired the upper part of Drogheda Street as far as the Henry Street junction as part of a land deal. Gardiner demolished the western side of Drogheda Street creating an elongated residential square, 46m in width, thus establishing the scale of the modern-day thoroughfare. He named the new development 'Sackville Street' after the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, Lionel Cranfield Sackville, Duke of Dorset. It was also known as 'Sackville Mall' or 'Gardiner's Mall'. It had been Gardiner's plan to eventually break this grand new street through to the river before he died in 1755. An engraving of Sackville Mall can be seen on Fig 9 and the mall is located on Rocque’s map of 1756. Just south of Sackville Mall, Drogheda Street continues as the origianl narrow street and it was on this juncture of Sackville Mall and Drogheda Street that the GPO would be built in 1815.

Photo: Sackville Street, Dublin 1842.

Click to view or download: Archaeological Impact Assessment Report, May 2014.



Judith Carroll & Co Ltd
Archaeological Consultants
Ballybrack Road 
Dublin 18 

Tel: 01 6705067
Mobile: 087-9968819/ 087-3810933
Email: info@judithcarrollandco.ie
Website: www.judithcarrollandco.ie

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