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Shelley Sites/Sights


In February 1812, Shelley, his wife Harriet, and her sister Eliza Westbrook arrived in Dublin, bent on radical activity. They initially stayed at a woolen-draper's lodgings on Sackville Street, a busy road that was later destroyed to make way for O’Connell Street’s even busier grand boulevard. Today, the original address's location can only be guessed at. Shelley immediately began circulating his letters of introduction, making arrangements to publish his revolutionary An Address to the Irish People, and writing republican verse dedicated to what he perceived as a worldwide move toward freedom. Within days, he began circulating the hot-off-the-press Address, sending some copies to pubs and having his servant sell or give away others. Shelley, frequently accompanied by Harriet and Eliza, walked the streets of Dublin and tossed copies into carriages, windows—even the hood of a lady's cloak.
He also made his first public speech at the Fishamble Theatre, now a modern building given over to offices, toney shops, and upscale housing. Additional new construction was in progress in 1999.
Later, the Shelleys moved south of the River Liffey to 17 Grafton Street, a building which still exists, now a fashionable grey and white Marks and Spencer department store. No. 17 was the notorious "Cave of Abdullah," so called because of the wild-eyed, wild-haired radical Romantics who called on Shelley there. A useful history of the Grafton Street building and surrounding area can be found in Anne Haverty’s Elegant Times: A Dublin Story (Dublin: Sonas, 1995).

Published @ RC

January 2006