O’Connell Street may be regarded as Dublin’s Main Street but Gardiner Street has more history and culture per square metre than almost any other street in the city. Built between 1792 and 1820, the houses were originally occupied by wealthy landowners. Over the years it has been home to a great many famous people and witnessed great historical events.
During the general strikes and the infamous ‘Lockout’ of 1913, Gardiner Street was central to events. Tempers were hot and fuses were short, as a great many of the residents of the area were determined to be paid a living wage by the factory owners and docking companies they worked for. Many of the once luxurious buildings were, by then, reduced to ‘tenements’, with several families sharing a room. People who had little to lose, risked it all standing up to police baton charges.
Urban renewal changed the area greatly during the 1970s and 1980s. An early U2 video shows the band performing on a pile of rubble, all that remained of the 200 year old buildings that originally lined the street. Other Irish rock bands had their associations with the area – Thin Lizzy, The Boomtown Rats – but perhaps the most significant location in the area is the former St. Francis Xavier Hall. From the 1970s on into the 2000s, ‘The SFX’ played host to many globally famous bands just before they were big enough for arena tours: Metallica, Red Hot Chilli Peppers, Anthrax, Bjork, Green Day, REM and a great many more.