Saturday, December 3, 2016

Where the streets have too many names

U2 had a big hit with a song named "Where the streets have no name", but in Ireland many streets have more than one name. Sometimes the change is minor, like when "Baggot Street Upper" becomes "Baggot Street Lower", but other times the streets have totally unconnected names. This is very confusing for visitors and locals alike.

One of the worst examples starts off in Rathmines, where you can travel 3 km along a straight road but officially be walking on 9 different street names:
  1. The journey starts on "Rathmines Road Upper".
  2. As you head north you will see that the road becomes "Rathmines Road Lower" which probably is no surprise.
  3. Continue straight and as you pass over the canal and you will see that for a short time you are travelling on "Richmond Street South". If this was not confusing enough, after a short while you will come to a junction where you can either continue straight or turn right and in both cases you would still be on  "Richmond Street South".
  4. Assuming you keep straight, the road will transform itself into "Camden Street Upper".
  5. Unsurprisingly this road changes its name into "Camden Street Lower".
  6. However, if you continue straight on the same road, you might be a little confused to find that the road transforms again into "Wexford Street".
  7. Many Dubliners know "Wexford Street", but relatively few realize that if you continue walking straight along this street you will be on "Redmond's Hill". If you are looking for this piece of the road, don't be fooled by the name into thinking that there should be some slope in the road - this is a perfectly flat stretch of road.
  8. If you are confused to find yourself on "Redmond's Hill", don't worry - it only lasts about 100 meters or so before transforming into "Aungier Street".
  9. "Aungier Street" is reasonably long, but clearly some city planners decided that it was too long since it changes without warning into "South Great George's Street". Don't be fooled into thinking that walking north on "South Great George's Street" would bring you to "North Great George's Street" - that street is several km away in a different part of town. Instead the road comes to an abrupt end in a T-junction with "Dame Street" (needless to say "Dame Street" also has several names)..
Is it any wonder that tourists get confused when they ask someone what street they are walking along and they are told "Aungier Street" and then 5 minutes later they ask someone  else and they are assured that they are walking along "South Great George's Street" despite the fact that they have been walking straight all the time.


  1. I always kind of liked the name changes. It gives you a historical understanding of the growth of the area. I'm pretty sure the name changes reflect when the street was extended with new development. And, these days, doesn't everyone have GPS? :-)

    1. I never thought of that explanation for the different names, but sounds believable that a new extension to the street was considered worthy of a new name. However, even if it made sense several hundred years ago, it doesn't help modern tourists (even if they have GPS to help them overcome the problem).