(Photo from An t-Oileán)
The street running along the side of Dublin’s Grand Canal Square is Misery Hill, which has a rich history.
“Back in the 1700s, the place was aptly named, as it was the site of a gallows where pirates and thieves came to a gruesome end. Public executions took place here into the nineteenth century and it is reputed that, on September 17th 1803, two of Robert Emmet’s men were hanged on Misery Hill. Before that in Medieval times, people with leprosy and other skin conditions, who could not afford to stay in the hospice on Lazar’s Hill ( now known as Townsend Street), would move on to Misery Hill, as a bell tolled to warn the citizens that the ‘unclean’ were on their way out of the city.”
Other sources indicate that as the leper was walking along the roads, one guardian would toll a bell, and the other would carry a 40-foot pole to warn others of a safe distance to approach, hence the origin of the phrase “I wouldn’t touch him with a 40-foot pole.” (Here in the USA, we shortened our pole to 10 feet, it would seem.)
Interestingly enough, before locating Mr. Buck’s blog entry, I had a challenge finding the precise location of Misery Hill – it doesn’t show up on Google Maps or Google Earth. A map published by ESRI was the only one that actually showed Cé Hanover turning into Misery Hill:
Location of Misery Hill in Dublin
Marker of Local Interest during construction.
Architect’s rendering of Grand Canal Square, showing Misery Hill incorporated into the square’s design.
Certainly a much more pleasant place now than it was then.
Edit: Although, being in Ireland, it can surely be properly wet and miserable.
The Old Wolf has spoken.