Dublin Graffiti - Heartbreak Hotel
In Dublin, Portobello (Irish: Cuan Aoibhinn) is an area stretching westwards from South Richmond Street as far as Upper Clanbrassil Street, bordered on the north by the South Circular Road and on the south by the Grand Canal. The area was also known as Little Jerusalem because in the first half of the Twentieth century, it was the heart of the Jewish community in Ireland.
The name Portobello came from the stretch of the Grand Canal leading to the bridge from South Richmond Street to Rathmines. Although referred to locally as Portobello Bridge, the correct name is La Touche Bridge (named after a prominent Dublin business family). Like the Portobello area of London, Dublin's Portobello was named by the British for the capture by Admiral Vernon in 1739 of Portobelo on Panama's Caribbean Coast, during the conflict between the United Kingdom and Spain known as the War of Jenkins' Ear.
Originally there was a large harbour on the canal, with an hotel, but the harbour was drained in 1948 and largely filled in. The Grand Canal is still thriving in a leisurely way and now serves as a picturesque amenity much frequented by the local population.
The nearby Portobello Barracks (now Cathal Brugha Barracks) were constructed between 1810 and 1815.
The area is home to the private Portobello College, as well as various pubs and restaurants and has a lively and vibrant air. The Irish Jewish Museum is located on Walworth Road--this was formerly part of Dublin's Jewish quarter. Leopold Bloom, the fictional Jewish character at the heart of the James Joyce novel Ulysses, lived at 52 Clanbrassil Street Upper; a plaque commemorating this can be found on the wall of that house. The famous playwright George Bernard Shaw was born on Synge Street. Barry Fitzgerald (1888-1961), the Abbey actor who was awarded an Oscar, was born in Walworth Road.
Most of the area was developed in the 19th century, the houses along the South Circular Road being built between 1850 and 1870, although the artisans' dwellings off Lennox Street were built much later. Part of Lennox Street and Florence Street stretching down to the South Circular Road were part of the Kingsland estate, which contained a park with a large pond and fountains. The name survives in Kingsland Park Avenue. The original name of Victoria Street was Kingsland Park. According to local lore some of the houses in this street remained empty for some time after they were built and were frequented by "ladies of the night". As a result the street acquired a bad reputation and thus the name was changed to Victoria Street. Other streets in the neighbourhood (ie, Harrington, Lennox, Heytesbury and Camden) were named after British Viceroys.
The main school in the area is Synge Street CBS. The Catholic Church is Harrington Street (St. Kevin's), built in 1871. There used to be a synagogue in Walworth Road and in Adelaide Road but these are closed now. The many Muslims now living in the area attend the Dublin Mosque further along the South Circular Road. The local Protestant church, St. Kevin's, was closed in the 1970's and converted to apartments. The little church at the top of Victoria Street formerly belonged to the Moravian Church, and was for a while used as a Social Welfare office.
The Jewish presence in the area declined following the end of World War II, with a number of Jews emigrating to Israel, and the majority leaving for New York. Though the main Jewish population that remained in Dublin have migrated to Terenure, just three miles away, a small number still live in the area, but their own shops, schools, and small businesses no longer exist.
The main employer locally in the inter-war period and afterwards was Ever-Ready Batteries. The factory is now closed and small businesses and attractive apartments occupy the space.
Altona is a local landmark, less preferred though than the red brick St. Kevin's Church at Bloomfield Avenue.