Dublin’s near-the-river north side is known for three things: history, petty crime, and shopping. O’Connell Street and Parnell Square just about corner the market on the history front; the General Post Office and O’Connell Statue are riddled with bullet holes from previous conflicts, including the unsuccessful-but-pivotal 1916 Easter Rising, and the Garden of Remembrance pays tribute to those who fought for Irish freedom.
Henry Street — the packed, pedestrian-only passage heading west from the Spire of Dublin — is the beating heart of Dublin’s retail economy. Move over, Grafton and the Creative Quarter, Henry has it by a mile. Huge shopping centers and small storefronts battle for business amid costumed characters (like local favorites Super Mario Busker and Spider-Man), and the consumers just can’t get enough.
Just off of the busy Henry scene, the shopping and petty crime collide on Moore Street, one of Dublin’s most unique (and infamous) little markets.
Every day, local merchants set up carts and stalls selling a range of foods and household goods. I like to check out the almost-suspiciously-cheap fruits and vegetables, but vendors do a good business selling cleaning products, paper towels, and hardware, too.
Occasionally, a fish stall emits a certain pungency into the street (and the hapless indoor Ilac Shopping Centre, which has an entrance nearby). Seen at this stall one hot summer day: A seagull grabbed a particularly nice-looking salmon fillet when the barker was busy. The happy bird dropped the fillet on the street and began to pick away at the soft, delicious meat. Upon discovering this thievery of an expensive cut of fish, the barker shooed away the gull, picked up the fillet, and put it right back on display.
This is just some of the, um, folksy charm of Moore Street. Every day, trench-coated figures call out, “Cigarettes, tobacco! Cigarettes, tobacco!” as they sell illegal tobacco, usually from Eastern Europe or Central Asia, to canny smokers looking to skirt the tobacco tax. Some bold crooks try to unload stolen smartphones, a warning to Dublin visitors and residents alike to hold on to their valuables.
If you are wondering why the police don’t monitor this infamous corner of small-time crooks, you clearly don’t live in Ireland.
But should you visit Moore Street? Absolutely! Daytime visits are a great way to see some of the “real” city without venturing too far away from City Centre into the rough neighborhoods of Dublin, which I don’t recommend doing.
If cheap fruit and vegetables don’t tickle your fancy, the brick-and-mortar shops on the street might. A number of international markets representing Asia, Africa, and the Middle East line the street on both sides, right next to the big discount supermarket chain Lidl. The famous butcher F.X. Buckley sells high-quality meats, conventional and unusual, from its brightly-lit shop near the Henry Street intersection.
Tripe, pigeons, and more familiar meats at the butcher on Moore Street! pic.twitter.com/6JOl1f2OXE
— Cory—Five Suitcases (@HansonCory1) December 5, 2014
If you are strolling on the north side, take a few minutes to explore this little slice of decidedly-non-touristy Dublin. Enjoy some cheap fruit, but check your fish fillets for beak marks!
For Moore more on Moore Street, Henry Street, and the rest of the Northside Shopping District, check out City Centre North in my free eBook, The Frugal Guide: Dublin.