Oct 09


Demolished, September 2022

Demolished, September 2022

The recent demolition of a number of houses on East Road cause quite a stir in the community. A common thread was how such unique properties had been allowed to remain largely unused for years until the wrecking ball was ready for them. One of the unique joys of East Wall is the diversity of its architecture, a legacy of small-scale development to meet the needs of a growing workforce in the area. Much of the pre-nineteen twenties houses were constructed by employers for members of their workforce. In some cases, these encompass whole streets such as Merchant’s Road (The Merchant’s Warehousing Company), Fairfield Road (Dublin Dockyard) or New Wapping Street (The London and North Western Railway). In others it was just a small terrace of houses such as Rose Terrace (Collen Brothers), or Pickford Terrace (Pickford’s Haulage Company). The companies may be long gone but the houses of their workers which still remain act as an indelible reminder of the area’s industrial heritage.

A number of people wondered who had lived in the Terrace? What their story was? Sadly, there were no answers. However, the event did bring to mind a previous demolition in 1999 when the development of Teeling Way saw the loss of a house on East Road which had been the home of Billy Woods and Nora Wooloughan. Billy and Nora were the grandparents of the poet Macdara Woods, who although born in Leeson Street, came from a long line of East Wall Sea Captains and had many childhood memories of that house. As the demolition began Woods put pen to paper to record happy childhood memories in his grandparents’ house all of which would soon be erased.

The result was the poem East Road, East Wall from his 2001 collection Knowledge in the Blood. It’s a wonderfully evocative poem of a lifestyle now lost and in tribute to the now forgotten residents of the recently demolished houses we are giving the poem below:

“East Road, East Wall” 

there was sunlight in the yard 

when I broke my toe 

five years of age 

fifty years ago 

in the hall the Japanese umbrellas 

in the parlour 

the mandolin and concertina 


always sunlight in the yard 

and heaps of coal 

light from the locomotives 

I know 

The heat from the fire-box 

In Westerns 


In the roof there were pointed windows 

behind the house 

the verandah 

trainlines leading to the docks 

down there where my green balloon 

sailed off 

all those years ago 


and a journey with my mother 

across Dublin 

past the Custom House –  

Oh don’t put me  

in there – I said 

don’t ever put me in there –  

three of us up 

on a donkey and cart 

moving my grandfather’s piano 

me and my mother 

and the one-armed driver 

my mother engaged –  

piano – mover with a heart condition 


anchored in time 

and light – a child 

in Gandon’s open space 

where my 

one-legged great-grand-uncle 

navigated yet another 

nautical academy 

the first left sailing empty 

abandoned in Belfast 


behind us all the afternoon 

the East Wall in the sun 

the parish register 

Of Lawrence O’Toole’s –  

recording the marriage of Wooloughan and Dias 

and where was she from I wonder 

the Iberian name at last 

the further I go 

the nearer I get 

get back to the peninsula 

travelling south to Pembroke Street 


travelling now to 


half a century later 

across the river and the city 

across the Grand Canal 

(that’s my house there 

in Ranelagh 

that’s where my son lives 

and I 

hold onto this 

I think 

and that is where I was born 

down there 

in Upper Leeson Street) 


on the anniversary of my father’s death 

I am looking toward 


where my mother is slowly dying 

and saying her fragments of prayers 

from childhood – oh 

in this January month 

as always 

the trees are bare 

I see too clear 


In the pumping station 

I paused today 

there was sunlight in the yard 

the engineer says 

there is always sunlight here 

he says –  

not true I know 

but I know what he means 

for this was a place for photographs 

on kitchen chairs 

hauled into daylight 

my people sat here 



this week 

they began to knock the house 

that was Billy Wood’s home: 

and Nora Wooloughan’s 


the Japanese umbrellas 

the mandolin and concertina 

the columned clock on the mantle 

their three sons 


the heap of coal 

the puff and steam of locomotives 

and the shaking great pump-engines 



outside the bricked-up 

parlour window 

a palm tree in the earth lives on …


(January 1999.)


east road old




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