History & Art at Bewley’s Grafton Street
A Journey Through Time
Bewley’s Grafton Street Café stands as a testament to Dublin’s rich history and evolving culinary landscape. Its story is intertwined with the very fabric of Dublin’s heritage, showcasing the city’s passion for tradition and the embrace of modernity.
The café’s journey began in 1927, yet its narrative stretches back further, embedded in the foundations of two townhouses that once stood independently. These townhouses, with their distinctive fireplaces, are a nod to Dublin’s architectural evolution, each brick whispering tales of olden times. Today, as one enters Bewley’s, the twin fireplaces offer a heartwarming greeting, a subtle reminder of the establishment’s beginnings when Grafton Street was a residential rather than commercial street.
The awe-inspiring façade is a landmark on Grafton Street, a masterclass in design influenced by the Egyptian architectural fervour that swept Europe following the discovery of Tutankhamen’s tomb in 1922. With its intricate mosaic detailing, it is a must-visit spot when in Dublin.
As the city witnessed socio-political shifts, the café bore witness to history. From hosting prolific writers to embracing everyday Dubliners, Bewley’s has witnessed whispered confessions, joyous celebrations, and quiet reflections, making it more than just a café — it’s a chapter in Dublin’s grand tale.
The Artistic Soul of Bewley’s
Beyond its delectable food and coffee, Bewley’s Grafton Street Café is a mecca for art aficionados. Every wall resonates with the creativity of some of Ireland’s most revered artists, making a visit akin to stepping into a living art gallery.
Dominating the café’s ground floor is the inimitable Harry Clarke, whose stained-glass creations infuse the space with an ethereal luminescence. His works, which blend traditional and avant-garde elements, are a testament to Ireland’s rich artistic heritage, beckoning visitors to pause and admire.
Jim Fitzpatrick, another celebrated artist, leaves an indelible mark on Bewley’s with his stunning piece “Cruitne” inspired by Irish myths and legends. While Pauline Bewick’s ‘Café Society’ stained glass artworks capture the Punk and the Princess against Clarke’s masterpieces, reflects Dublin’s ever-evolving artistic attitude.
The Garden Atrium, with its sculptures and cascading floral displays, provides a serene backdrop, in contrast to the hustle and bustle of Dublin city centre dining below. Meanwhile, Whyte’s Academy, once a school for luminaries like Robert Emmett, Thomas Moore and the Duke of Wellington, showcases works by its illustrious alumni, juxtaposed against Sinead O’Reilly’s mural capturing a household scene reminiscent of the time.
In essence, Bewley’s isn’t just a café; it’s an artistic journey, charting the course of Ireland’s vibrant art scene.