Portobello developed as a small suburb south of the city of Dublin beginning in the 18th century, with Richmond St. as its epicenter. Over the course of the next couple hundred years, it was completely developed as an area of private estates and open land gave way to solid red-bricked Victorian buildings for the middle class residents (on the larger streets), and terraced housing facing the Grand Canal for the poorer and working classes. Along with a population influx, ushered by a demand for housing and immigrants entering the neighborhood, housing development in Portobello became a necessity. Stout brick buildings could be erected quickly and filled with tenants at a relatively low cost. Today, an abandoned and dilapidated hospital building is closed off to the public, but stands as a remnant of the neighborhood’s more impoverished demographic.
Portobello boasts a uniquely diverse take on Dublin’s history. As a neighborhood that has always held predominantly immigrant demographics, Portobello has a rich past of cultures meeting. In particular, it is known for a historically thriving Jewish population, which gave Portobello its title of “Little Jerusalem.” Today, the area has also become the center of a growing Muslim demographic, and is home to the Dublin Mosque and Islamic Foundation of Ireland (housed in a former church building). The melding of histories and people shows in Portobello. Among the new wave food carts, farmer’s markets and modernized bars, you’ll still find a kebab shop on nearly every block.
Click here to read about The Bretzel – Portobello’s Jewish bakery