Tuesday, February 15, 2011

No Moore Street

I had to laugh at Eamon Gilmore doing the cliched Moore Street thing with his entourage on TV recently. I know he's standing in Dun Laoghaire Rathdown but he should have known that the old Moore Street is dead and gone. The shutters are down, the hoardings are up, planning notices adorn nearly every building. Graffiti runs riot. The businesses that remain have a transitory feel to them: mobile phones unlocked, exotic hairstyle options, nails tended. An Asian girl stands in a doorway offering tickets for some mysterious lottery.

There are few enough signs of the Moore Street that we knew and loved. It is still possible to find a butcher boy - just. F. X. Buckley offering cheap cuts and offal is one of the few holdouts from the past – a cheery commercial island in a slough of despond. The rest of the street is dirty, decrepit, diminished and deserted. There are a few fruit stalls and a forlorn fish barrow. There are many gaps where once the serried ranks of cheerful harridans assailed you to buy moody bananas and other problematical fruit: “twopence each the ripe bananas”. The abiding atmosphere is of seediness and impermanence.

Number 16 Moore Street was the building used by the leaders of the 1916 Rising as their headquarters after they had left the GPO. It was declared a national monument by Bertie Aherne in 2006. There are vague plans to house a commemorative centre there for the centenary of the Rising in 2016. The site currently lies boarded up and neglected, a small plaque unreadable high up on the second floor wall. Broken windows, broken promises.

The seeds of Moore Street’s downfall lie towards the Parnell Street side where Lidl sells fruit and vegetables even cheaper than the stallholders. Commerce ruthlessly displaces character. Dubliners have moved out to be replaced by immigrants from Asia and Africa struggling to find an economic foothold in their newfoundland. God help them.