O’Connell Street in its current form started life in the late 1700s as a residential development for some of the more posh and wealthy citizens of Dublin. Back then it was known as Sackville Street and only extended from Parnell Square to Henry Street. Today it runs right to the River Liffey and is home to illustrious tenants such as Dr Quirkys, Supermacs and Ann Summers.
Despite being home to some less than fancy outlets (although Ann Summers is quite fancy…. somebody who’s been there told me), O’Connell Street still retains its air of grandeur and is lined by some very fine buildings. The General Post Office is probably the most famous of these and was the scene of intense fighting during the 1916 rising. You can still see the bullet holes on the pillars of the portico.
The photos in this series were taken during the evening blue hour late in August 2015. O’Connell Street is actually a pretty difficult place to photograph due to the sheer amount of signposts, pillars and traffic lights blocking the view. The next time I photograph, this area, I’m going to have to bring my angle grinder.
O’Connell Bridge at Night
Aperture: f22 | Shutter Speed: 10 sec | ISO: 100 | Focal Length: 18 mm | Lens: Sigma 10-20 | Buy Print
O’Connell Bridge is unique in that it is slighter wider (50m) than it is long (45m). My favourite feature of this bridge however was a plaque that adorned the bridge from 2004 until 2006. This plaque was dedicated to a Fr. Pat Noise. The thing is, such a person never actually existed. The plaque was placed there by a couple of Dublin pranksters. Two whole years passed before anybody noticed the addition to the bridge! We Dubliners are a very observant bunch.
I took this photo just as the evening blue hour began to materialise over the city. I stood at the far end of O’Connell Bridge and shot towards O’Connell Street using an ultra wide angle lens. A long exposure of 10 seconds allowed me to capture the light trails of the traffic as it crossed the bridge.
As I’ve said in previous posts, the blue hour is the perfect time to capture urban landscapes. The sky turned to an attractive dark blue but there is still enough ambient light to allow the camera capture the details in the buildings. The deep blue of the sky also contrasts nicely with the city lights as they begin to come to life.
O’Connell Street and Dublin Spire at Night
Aperture: f22 | Shutter Speed: 20 sec | ISO: 100 | Focal Length: 14 mm | Lens: Sigma 10-20 | Buy Print
For the next shot, I moved closer to O’Connell Street, setting up my tripod at the far end of the bridge. In this shot, you can clearly see the “Spire of Dublin“, erected to mark the millenium. The famous Nelson’s Pillar used to occupy this space until 1966 when the IRA decided the street would be better off without it. On the night of March 8th, a bomb went off that had been hidden inside the pillar and Admiral Nelson took the first (and last) flight of his life. A few months the head from the statue was brought out on stage during a Dubliners concert.
I have to say, I’m not a fan of the “Spire“. I think we could have put something far more impressive in the space formally occupied by the Pillar. As soon as the new structure was in place, Dubliners had already dubbed it the “Stiffy by the Liffey“. Enough said.
Just before I took this shot, a charming young denizen of the city dressed in a classy white tracksuit tried to relieve me of my camera. She grabbed a tripod leg and tried to run off. Fortunately for me, her sense co-ordination had been dulled by whichever narcotics were bouncing around her system at the time and she tripped and fell flat on her face. On dragging herself from the ground, she warned me not to take her photo or she would “burst me”. She truly was a delightful young lady.
Corner of O’Connell Street and Eden Quay – Dublin
Aperture: f22 | Shutter Speed: 25 sec | ISO: 100 | Focal Length: 20 mm | Lens: Sigma 10-20 | Buy Print
For the final photo of this trilogy , I zoomed in on the corner of O’Connell Street and Edan Quay. Again, I used a slow shutter speed to capture the traffic light trails which provide some foreground interest in the scene.
In this photo, the statue of the Great Daniel O’Connell stands proudly on his plinth to the left of the frame. Known as the “Great Emancipator”, O’Connell’s statue was a more popular addition to the streetscape than Admiral Nelson. So much so that the street was renamed in his honour in 1924.
I like this particular viewpoint and it is mercifully relatively free of pillars and poles allowing an unobstructed view on the handsome buildings at this end of the street.
With three good shots in the bag, I headed down the street to dine among the finery of Supermacs. For my non-Irish readers, Supermacs is an Irish version of McDonald’s but a bit less classy. As I sat chewing on something described on the menu as a cheeseburger, I looked out on O’Connell street and wondered how long it would take me to cut down the Spire of Dublin with my axle grinder. I could use it as a giant monopod.
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