Stoneybatter: the metamorphosis of Dublin's working class neighborhood


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Few talked about Dublin's working-class neighborhood and none approached here. We cross the Liffey River to leave the bourgeois and sophisticated Dublin of Grafton Street and Merrion Square to the south and enter the proletarian, hipster and effervescent Dublin .

Raised in red brick, Stoneybatter still remembers the sweat spilled in its smoking factories, the barricades raised in front of its warehouses and its gloomy alleys.

But things have changed a lot in recent years. "The Batter" is now the place of exclusive signature coffees, pubs with Celtic pedigree, independent cinemas, recording studios and even a book publisher.

La Última Cena en el Café Cagliostro

The Last Supper at Café Cagliostro © Javier Martínez Mansilla


First the Celts and then the Vikings. "The Batter" is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Dublin whose origins date back to the Iron Age and the stony road that connected Dublin with Tara Hill, a sacred place for Celtic kings.

With the Norman invasion of Dublin (12th century) the Vikings, who had endorsed the city since the s. IX, they were expelled north of the Liffey, where they founded the Ostmenstown (village of the men of the east), today known as Oxmantown and located in the current Stoneybatter.

Good proof of the former northern neighbors of the neighborhood are the names of their streets: Thor Place, Sigurd Road, Ivar Street or Viking Road . Only Ragnar is missing.

But let's get back to that cool Stoneybatter. A mestizo town between the manufacturing tradition and Celtic spirit of yesteryear with the new cosmopolitan and cultural air granted by the young artists and artisans who have taken root here.

Observation Tower en Smithfield Square

Observation Tower in Smithfield Square © Javier Martínez Mansilla

In spite of the continuous gentrification of the neighborhood, and the rise in prices, this feeling of community is still preserved, the taste for the "old school" style and respect for the traditions that are increasingly difficult to find in the capital.

Let's sit down. We are twenty minutes walk from the center of Dublin or ten if we take the red line of the Luas tram. To the south, the Liffey separates us from the elegant The Liberties; To the east, Smithfield of the O'Connell Street commercial while the Phibsborough neighborhood adjoins the northern part and the Phoenix Park jungle in the west.

Deer are the masters of the Phoenix since 1662, when this 700-hectare reserve was created through which they run freely between forests, meadows and gardens.

The dimensions make it the largest urban park in Western Europe and make the bike the best ally to travel the roads that pass along the Wellington obelisk, the Papal Cross, the Dublin Zoo or the Presidential Residence. They say it is not uncommon to find hallucinogenic mushrooms around here, but that is another story.

Smithfield Square, un espacio peatonal moderno

Smithfield Square, a modern pedestrian space © Javier M.Mansilla


Smithfield Square is the gateway to old Dublin worker. The historic horse and cattle market has been reinvented as a modern pedestrian space, illuminated at night by twelve futuristic street lamps and easily located by the Observation Tower, the old chimney of the Jameson distillery with more than fifty meters high. A pity that is no longer accessible for security reasons.

The museum and visitor center of the Old Jameson Distillery (from 14 euros) is the legacy in Smithfield of the most famous liquor distillery in Ireland, whose current headquarters are in Cork.

El santuario del Whiskey, Jameson Distillery

The Sanctuary of Whiskey, Jameson Distillery © Javier M.Mansilla

Take a tour of the history of the purest whiskey in the world, at least according to the Irish, for its triple distillation versus double the Scotch whiskey. Everything is between Celts. They call it the "water of life", so take the glass, take a deep breath, give the cry of slainté and taste the essence of Ireland.

Other essential places in Smithfield are the Generator Hostel (from 16 euros), the largest hostel in Dublin where the adventurous atmosphere and international parties are never lacking; the internationally renowned Lighthouse Cinema and The Cobblestone pub, which deserves a separate chapter.

Generator Hostel Dublin

Dublin's biggest hostel © Generator Hostel Dublin


Avant-garde coffee shops, craft breweries, pubs, restaurants … The offer of trendy stores has become almost unattainable in Stoneybatter, so the only way not to go crazy is to plan (or try) the day in the working heart of Dublin. We can also follow the smell of coffee, the rhythm of folk or our own intuition directly. Anything goes.

After a day entrusted to the Phoenix Park, Smithfield and Cobblestone we will begin the next as mandated by "The Batter", with a coffee reactivator at Love Supreme (57 Manor St).

Love Supreme o el amor por el café

Love Supreme or love for coffee © Javier Martínez Mansilla

They had told us that in this small place, with chairs and pots hanging on their brick walls, they served the best coffee in the neighborhood. We ask for an express to take away, we try it and we believe it.

Before approaching the brunch of rigor in A SLICE of a Cake (56 Manor Place) we walk to The Lilliput Press (62 Sitric Road) to discover one of Dublin's most famous (and small) publishers.

A shared publication of SLICE (@ slicedublin7) on 12 Jun, 2018 at 11:54 PDT

Antony Farrell shows us his extensive collection and tells us the history of the bookstore while he sits in a reading chair with his greyhound dog at his feet.

Since 1984 Lilliput Press distributes biographies, historical novels, memoirs and books of all kinds from Stoneybatter.

Farrell explains that the publisher's name comes from a town in Westmeath, the bookseller's home county, where Jonathan Swift was inspired to baptize the Lilliput of "Gulliver's Travels."

Antony Farrel en The Lilliput Press

Antony Farrel in The Lilliput Press © Javier Martínez Mansilla

Back to the table. Another succulent alternative to A SLICE of a Cake (10 euros) is to surrender to the veal of My Meat Wagon (25 euros), specialist in roasts and grilled meat, although the salad and duck fillet of the Wuff (20 euros) also They are usually very tempting.

Sweet lovers will go to Green Door Bakery without hesitation and choose the almond croissant from the wide assortment of desserts and sweets from this flirtatious confectionery.

In the afternoon, we will discuss between visiting the National Museum of Ireland and walking to the Arbor Hill Cemetery, where the leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916 rest; or take a "street art" walk through the murals of the SUBSET project in Smithfield.

This group of artists have set out to turn Dublin into an open-air museum with its rebellious spirit and airbrush painting.

My Meat Wagon

Specialists in coals and roasts © My Meat Wagon

As night falls we approach L. Mulligan Grocer, a gastro pub with a taste for organic and detail.

The stewed lamb accompanied with a Yellowbelly Red Noir beer is a safe bet. So is testing your gin catalog. May the Old Jameson forgive us.

The Frank Ryan´s Bar is your place to live a football or rugby game like in the stadium and the Dice Bar for a pint before the night starts.

The Glimmer Man Pub, with its esthetic Irish pub, is a wise choice for those who go in search of a cocktail or a whiskey of level and, with permission of The Cobblestone, the Walsh´s does not disappoint if we talk about traditional music live. Not even for a Guinness, more would be missing.

The Cobblestone, una oda a la cultura celta

The Cobblestone, an ode to Celtic culture © Javier M.Mansilla