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Councillors call for audit of Dublin streets named after British landlords and slave owners


The name of Nassau Street in Dublin city centre is linked to William of Orange

The name of Nassau Street in Dublin city centre is linked to William of Orange

The name of Nassau Street in Dublin city centre is linked to William of Orange

Dublin councillors are calling for an audit of street names in Dublin named after British artistocrats, landlords and slave owners.

Councillors recently rejected proposals to name a new apartment complex in the inner city as Gardiner Court due to the name’s tie with Charles Gardiner, the first Earl of Blessington, who is subject of ongoing research into slave ownership.

The motion to audit Dublin’s street names was proposed by Independent Councillor Nial Ring.

“It would cause huge confusion if we start going through all the street names in Dublin and changing them, but some of the more obvious ones which jump out, we have got the obvious kings and queens names,” he told RTÉ’s Drivetime.

Cllr Ring said Nassau Street, linked to William of Orange, could possibly be a street that could be returned to its original name, St Patrick’s Well Lane.

“Let’s have a look, but we certainly want to look at ones that could have been associated with the slave trade,” he added.

Cllr Ring acknowledged that changing street names would be a “sensitive” topic for unionists in Northern Ireland on the subject of a united Ireland.

“I don’t want to change the name of every street in Dublin. What I’m saying is let’s hopefully debate,” he said.

Green Party Councillor Janet Horner said she would support the plan for an audit.

“We have a historical legacy in Ireland of street names. A lot of them relate to large landowners, British aristocrats and various types that held positions of power in Dublin,” she told Newstalk Breakfast.

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She said the names of Grafton Street and Henry Street stem from British landowners, and there are few streets named after women.

“A recent piece of research done by Conor O’Neill would show there are only four, maybe five streets named after women,” said Cllr Horner.

“Or streets like Henrietta Street, which while I think is a beautiful name, is named after the wife of the Duke for the area.”

Upon the foundation of the state, some street names were changed. Sackville Street became O’Connell Street and Great Brunswick Street became Pearse Street. However, most street names remained unchanged.

“I think we should be aware of what some of these names are and what the significance of them is, and we should be having that conversation,” said Cllr Horner.

“I think we should definitely be cognisant of it when we are naming new places.”

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