Reply To: ‘Dutch Billys’

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I’m working on the assumption that O’Colmain based his painting on an old photograph of the elbow in Fishamble Street, for now. I can’t find a better match for the particular characteristics of the streetscape.

It would be a great photograph to find, if it can be found. I imagine a photograph like that would have surfaced by now if it was in any of the usual places, so it could take a while to ferret out.

If the houses O’Colmain depicted were indeed on the Kennan’s site and were twin-gabled, as it appears, it may be possible to tentatively corroborate the accuracy of the depiction without necessarily finding the photograph it’s based on. Comparatively few Dublin builder/developers were associated with the construction of twin-gabled houses, it was a variation of a type and specialization, most had a background in the roofing trades, unsurprisingly.

As it happens the particular builder/developer who is probably most associated with the construction of twin-gabled houses did develop a pair of new houses on the east side of Fishamble Street in 1728. He had acquired the lease of a site the previous December that then contained two old houses, which he knocked down. We have some quite detailed information on the dimensions of the property, but not many clues as to its exact location on the east side of the street.

The same developer repeated the exercise in 1736, again buying a site with two old houses on it and redeveloping it as ‘two new large brick houses’. Again the location is on the east side of the street, but again the exact location is difficult to pinpoint. Essentially you have to identify the position of all the houses on one side of a street before you can be certain of the exact position of any individual house.

I can think of a few people who will not be persuaded by this kind of construction on top of a supposition based on a dodgy, semi-impressionist, painting of an unidentified location, but that’s never stopped us before.
Fishamble Street from Rocque’s map. The Kennan’s site is just below the ‘R’ in STREET

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