Saturday, August 27, 2011

Let’s go Dutch

It’s coming into autumn in this, the fourth year of our recession. Things are still looking pretty bleak. Hundreds of suggestions have been made in order to get our country out of this mess. I just thought of one.

Bring back Monto. Monto was, essentially, the red-light district of Dublin. In its heyday, 1860-1900, there were up to 1,600 prostitutes working in Monto at any one time. Religious campaigns, as well as the departure of the British army, led to its eventual decline in the 1920s.

Where was this magical place? Well, it wasn’t magical: it was described in 1901 as ‘one of the most dreadful dens of immorality in Europe.’  The name Monto derived from Montgomery Street (now Foley Street) which runs parallel to the lower end of Talbot Street on the way to what was Amiens Street Railway Station (now Connolly Station). But the heart of Monto was Mecklenburgh Street Lower (now Railway Street) and the surrounding lanes and alleyways - many of which are gone. Not all the streets were renamed to hide the history of the area. One street seemed to undergo a reversed process. Little Martin’s Lane was renamed Beaver Street!

If we brought back Monto, it would definitely return some identity to the area. As well as that, it would be great for tourism. If we learned from how the red-light district is run legally and competently, it could go very well for us, especially if we were able to convince potential Amsterdam visitors to come to Dublin instead. Ah, let’s through in a few coffeeshops there as well. Good timing – the Dutch are limiting coffeeshop purchases to Dutch nationals only in 2012, so Dublin would be happy to take that type of tourist. If you’re worried about criminality, there’s a Garda station nearby – that helps the argument.

It could become the Temple Bar of the northside!

Ah, em, not sure if that’s a good thing. But, we need the money.