Grafton Street (Irish: Sráid Grafton) is one of the two principal shopping streets in Dublin city centre, the other being Henry Street. It runs from Saint Stephen's Green in the south (at the highest point of the street) to College Green in the north (to the lowest point). In 2008, Grafton Street was the fifth most expensive main shopping street in the world, at €5,621/m²/year.
The street was named after Henry FitzRoy, 1st Duke of Grafton, the illegitimate son of Charles II of England who owned land in the area. The street was developed from a then existing country lane by the Dawson family in 1708, after whom the parallel Dawson Street is named.
After O'Connell Bridge (then called 'Carlisle Bridge') was built to span the River Liffey, Grafton Street turned from a fashionable residential street into a busy cross-city route.
Since the 1980s, the street has been mostly pedestrianised, with the exception of the short stretch running between Nassau Street and College Green. This short stretch is most notable for the eighteenth century Trinity College Provost's House, home to the head of the college. Across the road from this is the former location of the Molly Malone statue, a well-known tourist attraction and meeting-place, which was permanently moved from Grafton Street to nearby Suffolk Street in 2014, to make way for an extension to the Luas tram system. A life-size bronze statue of Phil Lynott was unveiled on Harry Street, off Grafton Street near the Stephen's Green end, on 19 August 2005.
Bewley's Oriental Café, a Grafton Street institution since its opening in 1927, announced at the end of October 2004 that it would be closing before Christmas, along with its Westmoreland Street café. Following a campaign by many, including the then Mayor of Dublin, Catherine Byrne, the café on Grafton Street, which had closed, was reopened, including its small performance area.
Buskers, including musicians, poets and mime artists commonly perform to the shopping crowds on Grafton Street. This was portrayed in the opening scene of the 2006 film Once, starring Glen Hansard of The Frames, a former Grafton Street busker.
Shops include Swatch, Swarovski, Topman, Ted Baker, Tommy Hilfiger, Disney, Karen Millen, American Apparel, and Levi Strauss & Co.
Paddy Casey – ex-Grafton Street busker, now a successful musician
Mic Christopher – musician
Glen Hansard – ex-Grafton Street busker, Academy Award winner, now fronts The Frames and The Swell Season
Keywest – English-Irish pop rock band based in Dublin
Thom McGinty (The Diceman) – former street performer and actor, during the 1970s–1990s
David McSavage – stand-up comedy and music, now television star
Mutefish - Folk Reggae band
John Nee – imitated Charlie Chaplin
Damien Rice – ex-Grafton Street busker, now an internationally renowned musician
Roadmage – comedy magic show
Rodrigo y Gabriela – Mexican guitar playing duo
In popular culture
Dido features a track entitled "Grafton Street" on her album Safe Trip Home. This song is a tribute to Dido's deceased father, who was Irish.