Vanished Dublin – 1. Mullinahack ‘Muileann An Caca’, Dublin, Ireland

Lately, while working on the concept behind the ’Scene within Scene’ photos, I’ve spent quite a lot of time viewing the digital online archive of the National Library of Ireland. For anyone who hasn’t checked out the extensive database I wholeheartedly recommend doing so. I have literally spent hours trying to work out where in Dublin certain images come from. Although Dublin has an extensive network of old streets and buildings hundreds of years old there has also been much regeneration and changes in the urban environment. It was while looking through the archive that I came across some pictures of an old Dublin area called Mullinahack. There are six photos in total taken by James Talbot-Power between 1889-1891 on the NLI website. As I searched around on old maps and through history books I found very little about the area, a place that existed since the 12th century until seemingly the 20th century. The area that Mullinahack was located in is roughly the neighbourhood bounded now by John Street, St Augustine Street and the Oliver Bond flats. Walking around the vicinity most of the local streets such as John Street West remain pretty much unchanged however the area of Mullinahack and the street structure that is shown in early maps of Dublin seems to have all but disappeared. There is a a short 40 metre length of Oliver Bond Street that is labelled Mullinahack, only one building inhabits the space (this being the Liberties Community Training Agency in the Good Counsel Centre).

From the 1872 Harper map and all subsequent maps Mullinahack seems to no longer be listed, and if we trace the area on to current maps it shows clearly that the region wasn’t modest in size and took up a lot of the same space as the current Oliver Bond flats do, but before we explore the death of Mullinahack we should delve into its beginnings. The area of Mullinahack was located just outside the old Dublin City walls almost from the inception of the city. A large number of mills sprouted up in the area to tend to the needs of the growing population within in the city walls. The area was originally referred to in writings as ‘Muileann an Caca’ in Irish which essentially means the unclean/excrement/filthy mill, which may have had to do with the fact that a lot of the waste from the mills, along with animal and human excrement from inside the city walls was dumped in the area leading to a terrible odour. According to 19th century historian Sir John Thomas Gilbert the earliest reports of a mill in Mullinahack come from the close of the 12th century. More mills continued to be built in the area over the subsequent centuries and in 1670 a covered watercourse called the Glib River was built to serve the mills,. The river ran through Thomas Street, to a cistern at New Row and onwards towards the north side of the city (this would’ve been branched off from the Poddle River which still runs under Dublin City.).

The area remained the home for mills and in the 1760s a Sugar refinery existed in the area. In a 1780 census Edward & John Byrne are listed as the owners of the refinery, manufacturing ‘Sugar Loaf’. During the Georgian era sugar was processed into a conical lump of crystallized sugar wrapped in brown paper, individuals purchased slices cut from the ‘Sugar loaf’. The Dublin Street directory of 1862 tells us the following about the area. Mullinahack lane housed a Joseph Levy (float owner) and five houses in ‘tenements, ruins and stables’, The area of Mullinahack itself only lists four households (mainly due to the fact the area was primarily for commercial use), these inhabitants are listed as follows – Luke Dunn (comb maker), John Magee (builder) Walter Birmingham (printer) and Joseph Kelly who owned timber and slate stores on Thomas and Francis St. Other sources list the professions of those in Mullinahack at various times over the past 350 years as linen and wool merchants, grocers and spirit merchants, cotton weavers and a hat dealer.

One of the most famous residents of Mullinahack was Anne Devlin, a prominent Republican figure and housekeeper to Robert Emmet. Another Republican from the area was John Farrell a cotton weaver who was captured during the 1798 rebellion. The area seemed to decline in the early part of the 20th century and has been largely forgotten, though the 40 metres or so of street labelled Mullinahack pay homage to an area that once was.

* If anyone has any further information in relation to Mullinahack please feel free to email me at any time or comment here.

52 thoughts on “Vanished Dublin – 1. Mullinahack ‘Muileann An Caca’, Dublin, Ireland

  1. I recorded the physical remains of the western end of Mullinahack a number of years ago after the demolition of the flats on Bridgefoot Street. The area is now a community garden but it would seem that there was an extensive laystall which was still in use after the construction of the Marshallsea Barracks (originaly a debtors’ prison). This was effectively a compound where cartloads of human cess were brought from the latrines or ash pits of the area, to be sifted through for valuables. If memory serves, there’s at least 4m of the material still there and the Scott Tallon Walker flats had to be constructed from deep concrete piles to overcome the nature of the ground. The pottery recovered would indicate that it was still in use by about 1800, however it’s clearly depicted by Rocque in 1756

  2. My sister has a clay pipe that came from Mullinahack Dublin so their maybe was a clay pipe maker their Noel Douglas maybe you could get a photo of it.

  3. Aye Noel that would be marvelous if I could get a photo of it to throw up on the blog. Also saw on your other post there about the old pipes found when part of the old city walls were being demolished, would be intrigued to see the names of the makers on the pipes like you said, and see if there is many links to families listed on the census’ I’ve been reading.

  4. A very interesting site!! Keep it going, but please adjust the background. The map is interesting but makes the text difficult to read. Thanks.

    • Hey David, thanks for your kind words and indeed I will be doing something about the background image in the next week 🙂

  5. Great blog, I sort of agree with other readers that its a little hard to read, although I love the background map and just think the small text/font size is the issue. Wonderful material and content though, the post above is fascinating. This area is hard by the old mill race stream that formed one side of Ushers island, so presumably the early medieval industry was powered by this part of the Liffey and not by the Poddle. Love the details about the old clay pipes, which must once have been ubiquitous in Dublin, and also the comb makers, as we know comb manufacture was one of the mainstays of Dublin’s economy, going right back into Norse times. Anyway, super blog, great post, delighted to subscribe and already looking forward to future posts. Regards and respects- Arran.

    • Hey Arran,

      Thanks a million for the kind words, very much appreciated. Indeed I need to change the font size for sure. Will be planning on doing a few more pieces on old Dublin areas that no longer exist in the new year…loadsa plans. Really enjoying your blog so I shall be keeping a close eye also!

  6. Thank you. I am a descendent of John and Edward Byrne in Mullinahack. Thank you for all this details. If you have more info on my ancestors it would me much appreciated.

      • Hey thanks for that. The families moved to France (where I am from) in early 1800 so wont be on census but i will look in previous ones. Tks mil (incidently my mother in law is from the Liberties so a bit of ‘common ground…!’) Thanks again Sabine

    • This is a such wonderful site! I am also a descendent of John & Edwards Byrne of Mullinahack. My Great Grandparents were Count Edward Alexander O’Byrne and Countess Rose Emily O’Byrne (Netterville). My Grandmother was Rosemary H. O’Byrne. I am in the middle of my family research. Searching records in Ireland, France and England have been insanely time consuming and frustrating at times. Many dead ends. It is so very exciting to come a cross a site like this that helps shed light on everything. If there are any other descendants out there, I would LOVE to hear from you!!!

  7. Sabine..the genealogy tree of the ó Byrne lines,of Mullinahack,and all the other o Byrnes,have been extensively researched and published,in a book by Daniel Byrne Rothwell.they were part of the ó Byrnes of Wicklow dynasty,that included Fiach McHugh ó Broín..of the battle of Glenmalure &c.perhaps you are already aware of this connection,there is a blog attached to the book sellers website[below]which has accompanying info from other Byrne researchers..i have seen these pix of Mullinahack previously and posted them on the [defunct]Dublin.ie/forum..its amazing to have them as a record of the past,V.O.T.P. thanks for the space to explain this,best of luck with the site..looks good to me..(y)..

    • My Mother is directly related to Fiach Mc Hugh Ó Broín/Byrne. I can put anyone in contact with her if interested? Mary

      • Hi Mary,
        I have posted a reply here with email details for the writer of the volumes on the ó byrnes ..see posts/info below here..regards Terence.

    • Hello toirdealach o braoín and ‘visions of the past’ (sorry I can’t recall your name ). Thank you so much for all the info. I had come across this online book before but could not remember the name. I also learnt since thst my ancestors sold their Mullinahack premises to the Powers Whiskey distillery set up originally in St. John ‘s lane. I ll have to visit National Library too. Thanks again to you both, much appreciated. S

  8. Hi Sabine,there has been additional volumes published pre xmas,which I have just ordered,by Daniel Rothwell Byrne,there is also a dna-genealogy group,of which I am a member, at http://www.worldfamies.com/byrne where there are groupings of Byrne participants,although I am of the ó Braoin=Breen of leinster,we are related to all the Leinster Byrnes tested thru dna,which history-connection formed one chapter[most of which I contributed] of vols 1+2 of the Byrnes &tc books.I know Daniel would be interested in your pedigree/history,and if you would, please contact him here maxinej28″at”googlemail.com [nb substitute @ for “at”] also,if you plan to visit Ireland this year..? there is a fantastic exhibition co-organized between France-Ireland,covering the military era from 1689-2012 at Collins barracks Dublin,till midsummer,which includes the history of Miles Byrne,and other ‘wild geese’ who fought in the French wars &tc http://www.ambafrance-ie.org/Exposition-1689-2012-les-Irlandais ps.thanks again Ed //

    • Hello (cousin) Terence, thanks a lot for all the info. Sorry for delay in getting back to you. I will contact Daniel for sure. I am actually based here in Dublin as married to Dublin man. The four 4 children keep me busy as well as self employement so hard to do as much as I want! The exposition is of great interest and I will make sure to visit. Regarding DNA I would be pleased to take part (enough hair falling down in my old age 🙂 Thanks again Terence. Kind regards, Sabine

  9. Thank you for this terribly interesting piece; it is extraordinary how little complaint was ever made while swathes of Dublin’s history were obliterated by the local authority.
    Incidentally, in relation to the Byrnes/O’Byrnes, I remember the Knight of Glin many years ago sending me some photographs of a now-ruined Chateau O’Byrne in the Bordeaux region…

    • Hello, there is still a Castle of the O’Byrne closer to Toulouse than Bordeaux (a bit further on the motorway towards the med.. foie gras and paté region). Here is the link. http://location-chateau-tarn.com/histoire.php in French but photos are great. The grandmother of my grandmother was christened there (yes they have a chapel there too).
      My grandmother went a few time to visit her relations but I have never got a chance yet. Maybe this summer. It seems you can visit it in the summer as visitor, don’t have to be any relation of them. You can also rent it for weddings, etc… I am sure they will welcome any Irish visitors even more. The ancestors of the Rey family who owned the Chateau before O’Byrne married into that family had themselves Irish ancestors the MacCarthy Reagh (from Bordeaux).
      Going to Tivoli Theatre this week, I stopped in Mullinahack area by chance and there is still a small clear plot of land fenced… wonder what Corpo intend to do with it?

  10. Hi Sabine,since reading the article here by Ed,it sparked my curiosity even further,to delve into the mullinahack history,and more specifically the powers distillery,which you mentioned ,was the spot your ancestors once held,i found some photos of the demolition of the distillery,and the frontage of their premises on Thomas st.,also have some old photos which might interest Ed,and yourself from that area.if either of you want those pics contact me here turlough.braoin AT yahoo.ie .do you have any surviving brothers,or uncles Sabine..? as the test for male/paternal dna [or Y-dna]is the only definitive one that continues from father to son,mitochondrial/maternal dna changes from generation to generation,although there are now advances in dnagenealogy for mitochohdrial dna, testing out to the 8th cousins..it does not have the necessary repetition to show connectivity.on the topic of chateau’s/castles,my closest byrne via dna, ‘cousin’ held Clara castle,Kilkenny, from c.1560 under the duke of Ormond..his ancestors emigre’d to Australia/NZ,and they are now in the states.its amazing the links you may find,i emailed Daniel,and he eagerly awaits your mail also.please do write him,and follow up your pedigree,especially now that you are “back home” 🙂 best wishes Toírdealach/

  11. Great page,nd background,well done, a good site lv found is Dublin Down Memory Lane on facebook,brill for photos nd history if Dublin,keep up the good work,Terry..xx

  12. l ment to say ‘why’ l was looking into the Mullinahack name, l got a loan if an old book on Georges Hill school,across the river in the markets area,and it had a map with the title, Central Dublin 1760/80, nd the name Mullinahack was on it,although ld heard the name somewhere,l had no clue to anything about it,but now l do,nd if ever somebody in a car stops nd asks me, ”hay,boss,wheres Mullinahack?”, l will be able to say, ”across the bridge my friend,next to Wormwood”….xx

  13. Great article,i had heard the name but had no idea where it was.An old lady i met once at a bus stop in the early 80s in the Libertes told me she remembered when Oliver Bond flats area was a quarry.

  14. To all who posted on this article.

    I am currently undertaking a course in Local Studies in the Dublin City Archives and have decided since I have always found Mullinahack an interesting topic that it would become the focus of my dissertation. I have been collecting various reports/newspaper clippings about Mullinahack but would be incredibly grateful if anyone who has an information about the area, no matter how seemingly irrelevant could get in contact with me at visionsofthepast23@gmail.com

    Yours Sincerely,
    Ed Hannon

  15. Hi there. I have been researching my wife’s Paumier ancestry and think some of the information I have may be of interest. The source of my information is a notebook written in 1856 by Mungo William Paumier, who was born in Dublin in 1797.

    The brothers Jean (John, born ca. 1722) and Pierre (Peter, the younger of the two) were born in the Bordeaux area of France. Jean/John was Mungo’s grandfather. Around 1740, having converted to Protestantism, Jean & Pierre emigrated to Ireland. They spent a number of years at a “public grammar school” in Drogheda (any information about the school would be greatly appreciated).

    “My Grandfather decided upon commencing operations in the Sugar Refining department, for which purpose he had the large dwelling house and extensive warehouses erected at a cost of Fifteen Thousand Pounds, in the first instance, which were afterwards enlarged and increased as occasion required. Those large premises and property were called Mullinahack. I visited them when there in 1838 and shall never forget the melancholy interest with which I wandered through those remnants and monuments of the Paumiers’ prosperous days, when riches and happiness enlivened those scenes – so lonely, so dreary, neglected and sad when I inspected them then. There stood the large mansion, still in good presentation, but empty, except a room or two on the ground floor, occupied by a poor family in care of the premises once and long no doubt filled with costly furniture, the happy and numerous family and the joyous and wealthy friends and relations of the Paumiers. There was the countinghouse where my Grandfather transacted his extensive and thriving business, now silent and untenanted like some dismal prison. And there were the extensive and lofty warehouses once filled with costly merchandise and busy workmen, now forsaken and fallen into ruins. There were even the fragments of various utensils pertaining to the business and the places where the sugar grinding mills and the boiling vats were once so diligently employed, looking like the vestiges of some doomed city buried by an earthquake, deserted by its inhabitants in the midst of their occupations, and left a sad memorial of former prosperity.Those great premises were erected by my Grandfather above a century ago, and you will very naturally wonder and enquire how that cost could be defrayed by an expatriated emigrant and refugee who had fled from persecution in France and settled in Ireland so very recently ? The fact is that my Grandfather John and his brother Peter had sold property which they possessed in France. Their mother had likewise disposed of her valuable jewels to assist them, and it is very probable that even their Father and other relations, although obliged ostensibly to cast them off and forsake them because they had become Protestants, might have contributed secretly to provide the funds necessary to set them up in business. Besides, they had many wealthy friends, refugees like themselves (especially the Latouches and the Villabois who accompanied them in their flight) who might have leant them money. And perhaps also they, like most other persons commencing business, begun with large credit. Be that as it may, it is quite certain that Mullinahack was built, fitted up, stocked and set to work, as the first and largest Sugar Refining establishment ever opened in Dublin under the firm of Messrs. John and Peter Paumier, for although my Grand-Uncle Peter had no knowledge of, or talent for, business, his brother generously gave him an equal share in the same, of which he was only a sleeping partner, whilst my Grandfather was the active one, having all the trouble and responsibility resting upon him.
    The Sugar Refining business answered remarkably well, and my Grandfather gradually added other articles and speculations, until he became a General Merchant – having ships of his own, trading to various nations with freight to and fro. Until lately I had in my possession for many years my Grandfather’s Freedom of the Guild of Merchants in Dublin – dated April 1747. It was a piece of parchment about the size of this book when opened, consisting of a copperplate form with the City arms and a neat border. On the back were endorsed the fees paid on registry and which amounted to £13 odd. Thus, my Grandfather was proceeding successfully in his mercantile career. But, alas ! He was suddenly cut off by a fever in the prime of his life (about 40) and the height of prosperity, leaving a widow and 8 children of whom my Father, the oldest I believe, was only 14 years old. As my Grandfather died Intestate his property, which was all personal, had to be equally divided between his children and must have amounted to at least £120,000 as my Father’s share was at least £15,000.”

    The how and why of the sale of the Sugar Refinery is another story (with a very unhappy ending for the Paumier family) and it’s one I’m happy to relate if it’s likely to be of any interest.

    Anyway, I hope that has been of use and interest. Mungo eventually moved to London around 1825 and continued his descent from riches to rags, finally dying in the Workhouse in Bethnal Green in 1872. We are fortunate to still have his 300 page notebook with many other tales of his childhood/youth in Dublin. Thanks for giving me this opportunity to share part of his story with you.

  16. Hi there again,
    After finishing my previous “post”, I realised that the name Byrne rang a bell in the context of Mullinahack and this morning have revisited my transcription of Mungo’s notebook:

    “My brother, John, was 3 years older than myself. He had no occupation or profession until he was above 24 years of age when he came to London and was accepted as an Officer for the Patriots in South America (February 1819) by General English who was then recruiting here for that Service. My brother John was at once appointed as Cornet [cavalry rank, in today’s army a Second Lieutenant], in the 1st Venezuelan Hussars and immediately upon his arrival at Bogota was promoted to the rank of Lieutenant and was attached of General Bolivar’s Guard of Honor. These favours were shown him through the kind interest of his Colonel, who had been personally acquainted with my Uncle.

    A very remarkable coincidence occurred on this occasion. In the same service, and on board the same ship as my brother John sailed in, was a young man named Byrne, Grandson of the celebrated Byrne of Mullinahack, the great distiller who succeeded my Grandfather there, and my brother was the Grandson of the original proprietor, founder and builder of Mullinahack.

    Of course, a close intimacy and friendship sprung up between these two Soldiers of Fortune, although I never heard anything more about Byrne or his career in South America. My brother and all the other Officers swore allegiance to the President and Republic of Venezuela and were re-baptised in Bogota with Spanish names when my Brother took the additional name of Peter and became Don Juan Pedro Paumier. I had an authentic account of his subsequent life and death from Colonel Mackintosh of the “Battalion of Albion” in which my brother John was a Captain..

    After securing the Independence of Venezuela they crossed the Cordilera Mountains of immense height and extent into New Grenada [now Colombia], toiling on for above four months without any other food than the flesh of the wild buffalo, without bread, vegetables or salt. When passing over the summits and sides of those stupendous mountains, they were up to their hips in snow, and soon afterwards in crossing the valleys they waded through hot marshes to be again speedily succeeded by the perpetual snow on the mountains. Thus they proceeded and many sunk and died beneath those hardships before they reached the western side of those mountains, where a numerous, well trained and well provided army of Spaniards awaited them.

    Nevertheless, harassed and weak and weary as the Patriots were, they at once boldly attacked the Spanish forces and beat them in several engagements, but especially in the celebrated Battles of Boyaca, Pasto and Popeyan, My brother died of dysentry at Popeyan in November 1820.”

    Those of you interested in the Byrne family may be able to identify the “grandson” and I hope the above gives you a flavour of what he would have encountered in South America.

  17. Hello Brian and Ed,

    I enjoyed reading the all diary entry….most interesting reading and obviously with my direct ancestor being mentioned brought it to another level for me! I never realised the professional links between these two families. I will try to get more info on the South America trip but it is the first time I have heard it so pretty exciting stuff.

    It is weird how the French link is being kept from the Paumier’ origin to the Byrne moving and settling in south-west France too, doing a full circle (although some of them stayed in Ireland too).

    Ed did you finish your course / dissertation? Must have been so interesting but hard work too I am sure.

    Kind regards
    Sabine Maher

    • Hi Sabine,
      Yes the Bordeaux area connection is interesting. In fact, according to Mungo’s diary, the father of the Paumier brothers was “Proprietor of Chateau Clarac, famous for its wines and imperial plums. He was a strict Roman Catholic.” I wonder if the Byrne and Paumier families in Dublin knew each other anyway and talked about the area. There is a Chateau Moulin de Clairac not far from Bergerac; I have emailed them and also the wine museum in Bergerac to see if either can help trace the Chateau Clarac/Paumier family for me but, a year or more on, I’ve had no response from either.
      Brian

      • Hi Brian,

        Thank you. Re your enquiries, did you send queries in French or English? I can try again in French for you if you want.

        Thanks again for sharing that info.

        Sabine

        Kind regards,

        Sabine Maher

  18. Hi Sabine. The email to the wine museum was in both. I ought to give Chateau Moulin a try, but we’ve recently moved house and all my paperwork is all over the place at the moment. Any assistace always welcome though. Cheers, Brian

  19. On 15 November 1845 the Freeman’s Journal announced the setting up of a new firm, Messrs Bourne, Fagan & Hartley, to build railway carriages on the site. The FJ quoted the Evening Mail as saying “The premises upon which these works are in rapid progress of construction, occupy an area of some acres, and extend from the rere of Home’s Hotel, on Usher’s-quay, to the distillery in Thomas-street (including the celebrated Mullinahack), and occupying the whole space between Bridgefoot-street and Bridge-street.” The premises seem to have been (mostly) the site of James Fagan’s timber business. The Bourne and Hartley families were active in various forms of transport, including coach-building, but the awarding of the Post Office mails contracts to a Scotsman, Mr Croal, in 1843, had put the Irish carriers and their coach-building works out of business: Croal imported second-hand coaches from Britain. I don’t know whether the railway-carriage business prospered: a quick google found nothing relevant. bjg

  20. Hi I worked at T.C.McMullan which was situated at 5/6 John Street West during the sixties. If you worked through your holidays instead of taking the time the workers always said they were going to Mullinahack for the hols.

  21. Hi – congrats on fascinating blog! Slightly adjacent to Mullinahack, Wormwood Gate still exists, at least as a street sign. It was the home of Edward Madden (1739-1829), a successful silk weaver, and delegate to the Catholic Committe of 1792. His son was the lawyer, abolitionist and historian of the United Irish movement Richard Robert Madden. According to his memoirs, on the night of Richard Robert’s birth in 1798 the house in Wormwood Gate was searched by Major Sirr.

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