Tuesday, 3 June 2014

Where is Stoneybatter in Dublin?

Stoneybatter is the centre of Moss Reid's universe in my series of crime novels about the foodie PI. But where exactly is Stoneybatter (aka Cowtown or Oxmantown)?

Basically it's a northwest corner of Dublin's city centre, the bottom left part of the Dublin 7 postal district (and, bizarrely, a bit of Dublin 8, but that's another story). Local people will argue about where Stoneybatter begins and ends, but here's how Moss Reid describes it on page 69 of Black Marigolds:
Cowtown. That’s my patch, my home base: a kind of rectangle that starts at the top of Prussia Street and ends in the Liffey, if you know what I mean. A rectangle with, to the west, the start of the Phoenix Park and three hundred crumbling flats at O’Devaney Gardens; and, to the east, the beginnings of Smithfield and Grangegorman.
In recent times - particularly as Stoneybatter has become slightly more, well, "fashionable" - the definition has been stretched and muddied to grab areas further afield. For example you might come across some houses described as being in "Lower Grangegorman, Stoneybatter" in property websites (Lower Grangegorman, to state the bleeding obvious, is in Grangegorman not Stoneybatter), or mentions of "Stoneybatter and Arbour Hill" - making Arbour Hill sound like a separate district rather than being part of Stoneybatter.

For Moss Reid, though, the following are the logical borders of Stoneybatter...

1. South

To the south, the quays of the River Liffey form a clear, natural dividing line. This line stretches from Parkgate Street and the new Criminal Courts of Justice at one end to Bargaintown at the other.

2. West

To the west, the boundary is Infirmary Road as it snakes around the eastern end of the Phoenix Park from the courts in Parkgate Street up to the North Circular Road and Hanlon's Corner.

3. North

To the north, the North Circular Road (NCR) is the dividing line. Any further north than this and you are creeping into Cabra or Phibsborough. Besides the NCR itself it would include the houses on the northern side of the street right up to Ellesmere Avenue, with the railway line behind the houses and their gardens forming a natural dividing line with Cabra.

As for Hanlon's Corner and Hanlon's pub itself, we're moving into Alsace-Lorraine territory here. Strictly speaking its address is on the North Circular. This would make it either at the very end of Stoneybatter or the start of Cabra. As for the Park House office block directly across the road from the pub, it would mark the start of Phibsboro.

4. East

The eastern borders of Stoneybatter are much less clear, particularly as the district meets Smithfield.

From the top - at Hanlon's Corner again and the Park Shopping Centre (Tesco) - there is a natural divide between:

  • the east side of  Prussia Street and Manor Street on the one hand which together make Stoneybatter's main thoroughfare, or in soccer speak its "central spine" (which is really near its eastern fringes) - and 
  • the start of Grangegorman on the other. The latter's green spaces are clearly walled off (from Stoneybatter) and will form the new DIT college campus.

Further south, Stoneybatter's eastern boundary is at its least clear. It takes in the western half of North Brunswick Street including the old Woollen Mill, until the street reaches a crossroad that it shares with Grangegorman to the north and Smithfield to the east.

So the eastern half of Brunswick Street is in Smithfield, and this largely imaginary dividing line continues southwards, possibly even cutting houses in two as it wreaks its carnage and stretches down to the Liffey quays again. But don't take my word for it. Or Moss Reid's either...