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  • Writer's pictureAnn

The Duke, Duke Street

This beautiful bar is situated a stone’s throw from Grafton Street and is named after the second Duke of Grafton. It has been looking after thirsty and hungry people since 1822. I read on their website that they were “ radiating beneath the glow of Fishbourne and Bianconi across the street “ and wondered who were Fishbourne and Bianconi ? Well, let me tell you a story .. Bianconi was one of three young Italians who walked on foot across the French Alps with their mentor, an art dealer called Andrea Faroni, arriving in Dublin in1802. They set up shop in Dublin in Essex Street, now in the famed Temple Bar area and sold pictures on the street. After Bianconi had served his apprenticeship with Mr Faroni, he took to the road selling pictures and frames around Ireland, carrying them in a heavy box. Travelling on foot and walking long distances he realized the need for some better form of transport. By 1815 the first Bianconi two wheel horse drawn cart was up and running from Clonmel to Cahir, introducing the first integrated transport system to Ireland. Over the next thirty years he developed a thriving industry and eventually his coaches could carry up to twenty passengers, plus cargo and mail deliveries. Along with a Mr Fishbourne, they set up shop opposite The Duke. . Can you just imagine the stories told by the people who were buying tickets, heading off to their destinations, dropping in to the pub for a bit of sustenance before their travels … This is exactly why I love looking for information on our historic bars, they have such a story to tell. To this day it is a fine bar, with beautiful Victorian features … if only walls could talk ?? As for Mr Bianconi, when rail travel came to Ireland he started to buy shares in the rail lines and sold his coaches and long carts to his employees. He himself became a director in Daniel O’Connells’s National Bank on College Green. Talk about rags to riches! And hats off to any man who looks after his loyal and hard working staff…. to anyone still reading fair play, I got a bit carried away !

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