A SECTION OF CAPEL STREET [FIRST SUNDAY OF MAY 2021]
This is my local shopping street and I like having such a good selection of restaurants. Before the introduction of Covid-19 related restrictions the street was beginning to attract business away from the Temple Bar area on the other side of the Liffey.
It is sometimes claimed that the street takes its name from the chapel of St Mary’s Abbey; other Capel Streets may be named after chapels, but this one is named after Arthur Capell, 1st Earl of Essex, Lord Lieutenant of Ireland 1672–1677.
Built by Sir Humphrey Jervis in the late 17th century, he also built Essex Bridge (today Grattan Bridge), and the street was known for its mansions and a royal mint. In the 18th century, it became a commercial hub, with two-bay buildings replacing the “Dutch Billy” houses. The Capel Street Theatre also stood there in the 18th century.
The Torch Theatre operated on Capel Street in 1935–41. The street declined in the 20th century, before a revival around the 1980s. Today it is known for its variety of restaurants, shops, cafés and pubs; as Panti, the owner of Pantibar put it, “You can buy a lightbulb, sexual lubricant, Brazilian rice, get a pint and go to a trad session.” Louis Copeland’s tailor is another notable business.