Grand Canal Dock

Coordinates: 53°20′37″N 6°14′15″W / 53.343497°N 6.23762°W / 53.343497; -6.23762
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The west inner basin and Boland's Mill, January 2022
View of the western (inner) basin from the top floor of the Google Docks (Montevetro) building. Boland's Mill, the Alto Vetro building, and The Marker Hotel can be seen.

Grand Canal Dock (Irish: Duga na Canálach Móire) is a Southside area near the city centre of Dublin, Ireland. It is located on the border of eastern Dublin 2 and the westernmost part of Ringsend in Dublin 4, surrounding the Grand Canal Docks, an enclosed harbour where the Grand Canal comes to the River Liffey. The area has undergone significant redevelopment since 2000, as part of the Dublin Docklands area redevelopment project.

The area has been nicknamed "Silicon Docks"[1][2][3] by Google and Facebook (a reference to Silicon Valley) as it has become a popular location for multinational technology firms such as Google,[4] Facebook,[5] Twitter,[6] LinkedIn,[7] and Airbnb.[8] The area has been the subject of debate over the balance of development and gentrification as well as the subject of derision over the clichéd nature of its new nickname.[9]


There is no precise definition of the Grand Canal Dock area, but it is generally understood to be bounded by the Liffey to the north, South Lotts Road to the east (or Barrow Street if separating South Lotts as its own area), Grand Canal Street to the south, and Macken Street to the west (although some maps show the area including as far west as the corner of Leeson Street and Fitzwilliam Place). Grand Canal Dock contains Grand Canal Dock railway station and the national Waterways Ireland Visitor Centre.[citation needed]


Grand Canal Dock railway station, accessed from Barrow Street, opened in 2001 (although the line has been in use since 1834). In early 2014, five new Dublin Bikes stations were opened in the area.


Opening of the Ringsend Docks, Dublin, 23 April 1796.

The Grand Canal Docks first opened in 1796, built to a design by William Jessop.[10] Before this development, from medieval times the area was associated with lepers, as recorded in some of the street names such as Misery Hill and Lazer Lane.[11] At the time they were the world's largest docks. They fell into decline within just a few decades, due mostly to reduced canal usage with the arrival of the railways. The landscape was dominated by Dublin Gas Company's mountains of black coal, along with chemical factories, tar pits, bottle factories and iron foundries. However, bakers and millers maintained business along the southern edge of the inner basin.[12] By the 1960s, the Grand Canal Docks were almost completely derelict.

Around 1987 it was decided that Hanover Quay was too toxic to sell. Regeneration began in 1998, when Bord Gáis sold the Dublin Docklands Development Authority (DDDA) the former gasworks site located in the area between Sir John Rogerson's Quay and Hanover Quay, for €19 million. The DDDA spent €52 million decontaminating the land, even though the likely return was estimated at just €40 million. The decontamination took place under the supervision of the Environmental Protection Agency, between 2002 and 2006. The process involved constructing an underground wall eight metres deep around the affected area, and the contaminated soil being dug out and removed. By the time the decontamination was finished, an inflated property bubble and increased demand in the area (brought on, in part, by the decision by Google to set up its European headquarters nearby), allowed the authority to sell the land for €300 million. The DDDA injected some of its new funds into the area's infrastructure including seats, street lighting, and civic spaces.[13]

A number of buildings have since been developed, involving the construction of millions of euros worth of real estate, the establishment of what is now sometimes known as Silicon Docks, and the arrival of several thousand new residents.[citation needed]

Sites control and planning[edit]

On 22 May 2014, it was announced that a fast-track planning process was approved by An Bord Pleanala, with 366,000 square metres of office space and 2,600 homes to be developed across 22 hectares of land in the North Lotts and Grand Canal Dock areas under the Docklands Strategic Development Zone (SDZ) planning scheme.[14] A number of site plan notices have been posted in the area including the following:

  • On 14 October 2014, it was reported that U2 would buy 16 Hanover Quay from the Dublin Docklands Development Authority for €450,000.[15] The authority had forced the band to sell its old riverfront studio on Hanover Quay for an undisclosed price in 2002 to allow the development of the Grand Canal Harbour area. As part of that deal, the authority had promised the band the top two floors of the 32-storey tower it was planning to build on an adjacent quay, a project that was subsequently put on hold. In light of its imminent dissolution and the recent approval by An Bord Plenala for the North Lotts and Grand Canal Planning scheme, the authority decided it would not be proceeding with a proposed compulsory purchase order of 16 and 18 Hanover Quay.
  • On 4 December 2014, a site plan notice was posted describing the developments to take place at the Boland's Mill site including retaining and restoring old stone buildings to accommodate retail/restaurant/cafe use, cultural/exhibition use, and residences; and the construction of three new towers (13 to 15 storeys, maximum height 53.65m) to accommodate offices and residences. There will also be three new pedestrian routes from Barrow Street, and a new civic waterfront square adjacent to the dock.
  • On 12 December 2014, two site plan notices were posted for Targeted Investment Opportunities PLC describing the developments to take place at the former Kilsaran Concrete site at 5 Hanover Quay. One notice is for the construction of a 7-storey office building. The other notice is for the construction of a 7-8 storey building to accommodate residences and mixed-use, including 100 apartments, a leisure centre, and space for 1 retail and 2 cafes at ground level.


Several of the buildings surrounding Grand Canal Square, such as the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, The Marker Hotel, and the HQ office development, were designed by McCauley Daye O’Connell Architects.[16] Notable features of the Grand Canal Dock area include:

Grand Canal Square[edit]

The front of the Daniel Libeskind designed Bord Gáis Energy Theatre pictured from the Martha Schwartz Partners designed Grand Canal Square

Grand Canal Square Square was completed in 2008. The €8 million plaza consists of red resin-glass paving that juts out into the water, dotted with illuminated red poles. Planted sections are arranged diagonally across the square.

Alto Vetro (2008), and the National Waterways Visitor Centre

Alto Vetro[edit]

The Alto Vetro apartment building was awarded the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland’s (RIAI) Silver Medal for Housing (2007-2008).[17] It was built by the Montevetro developers Treasury Holdings.

Boland's Mill[edit]

Boland's Mill was a functioning mill until 2001, after which the site, including older stone buildings and taller concrete silos, became derelict. As of February 2019, the site was undergoing a €150 million reconstruction to become Bolands Quay, accommodating new residences, commercial, retail, and civic spaces.[18]

View of the Google Docks (Montevetro) building from the roof of The Marker Hotel
The outer basin with Millennium Tower (1998)

Bord Gáis Energy Theatre[edit]

The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre is the largest theatre in Ireland. It was designed by Polish-American architect Daniel Liebeskind. It was opened as the Grand Canal Theatre in 2010 but renamed in March 2012 as part of a paid naming rights agreement.[19]

The Factory[edit]

The Factory houses Irish Film and Television Network studios, as well as rehearsal and recording studios where a number of U2's albums were recorded.

Google Docks[edit]

The Montevetro building completed in 2010 stands at a height of 67 metres and is one of the tallest commercial building in Dublin. It was sold to Google in January 2011 and subsequently renamed "Google Docks".[4] In 2014, the Google Docks building was joined by an "iconic" curving three-pronged steel and transparent glass footbridge to Google's two office buildings across Barrow Street - Gordon House and Gasworks House. It has been named "Hyperlink".[20][21]

The Marker Hotel[edit]

The Marker Hotel is owned by development firm Tetrarch Capital and is one of only six of The Leading Hotels of the World in Ireland. It was designed in 2004 by Portuguese architect Manuel Aires Mateus. It opened in 2013 and offers the city's first rooftop terrace and bar.[16]

Millennium Tower[edit]

Millennium Tower is an apartment building located on the Grand Canal outer basin. At 63 metres in height, it was the tallest storied building in Dublin from 1998 - 2009.

No. 2, 4, and 5 Grand Canal Square[edit]

The modern office buildings alongside the Bord Gáis Energy Theatre were designed by architect Daniel Liebeskind and developed by Chartered Land. No 2 houses offices for Capita Asset Services & William Fry Solicitors. No 4 houses offices for Facebook's European headquarters.[2]


  1. ^ "Google". Archived from the original on 26 February 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  2. ^ a b Barber, Lynsey (17 June 2014). "In pictures: Inside Facebook's new Dublin office and European HQ". Archived from the original on 19 October 2014. Retrieved 15 October 2014.
  3. ^ "Facebook to move to bigger Dublin offices". RTÉ. 7 November 2014. Archived from the original on 10 August 2015. Retrieved 30 June 2014.
  4. ^ a b Dillon-Scott, Piers (29 January 2012). "Google to open 'Google Docks' in Dublin". The Sociable. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  5. ^ O'Brien, Ciara (7 November 2013). "Facebook confirms move for Dublin HQ to bigger premises". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  6. ^ Parfeni, Lucien (26 September 2011). "Twitter Joins Google, Facebook and Sets Up International HQ in Dublin, Ireland". Softpedia. Archived from the original on 16 October 2013. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  7. ^ "LinkedIn to open HQ in Dublin". Irish Independent. 30 November 2012. Archived from the original on 4 March 2014. Retrieved 4 March 2014.
  8. ^ Lyons, Tom (18 January 2014). "Airbnb finds its home in Dublin 4". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 8 April 2014. Retrieved 8 April 2014.
  9. ^ "Austin as Tech Hub: Myth or Reality?". Austin Chronicle. 28 October 2016. Archived from the original on 12 December 2019. Retrieved 12 December 2019.
  10. ^ "Grand Canal Docks, Hanover Quay/Grand Canal Quay/ Ringsend Road, South Dock Road/Grand Canal Place, Dublin 2, DUBLIN". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 7 April 2021.
  11. ^ Hedderman, Zara (3 October 2018). "Double Take: The little-noticed laneway called Misery Hill in Dublin". Retrieved 22 November 2021.
  12. ^ Bunbury, Turtle (1 January 2009). Dublin Docklands - An Urban Voyage. Montague Publications Group. p. 251. ISBN 9780955815515.
  13. ^ Newenham, Pamela (19 January 2015). Silicon Docks: The Rise of Dublin as a Local Tech Hub. Liberties Press. p. 200. ISBN 9781910742006.
  14. ^ Melia, Paul (23 May 2014). "Green light for massive Docklands development". The Independent. Archived from the original on 23 May 2014. Retrieved 25 June 2014.
  15. ^ Taylor, Charlie (14 October 2014). "U2 to buy Hanover Quay site from DDDA for €450,000". Irish Times. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  16. ^ a b "The Marker Hotel". Irish Building Magazine. 10 September 2013. Archived from the original on 21 January 2015. Retrieved 21 January 2015.
  17. ^ "Grand Canal Quay's Alto Vetro Wins RIAI's Silver Medal for Housing". Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland. 13 September 2011. Archived from the original on 11 March 2014. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  18. ^ Kelly, Olivia (2 July 2015). "Green light for €150m Boland's Mill development". The Irish Times. Archived from the original on 13 August 2015. Retrieved 10 September 2015.
  19. ^ "Grand Canal Theatre to change name as part of Bord Gáis deal". Irish Times. 25 October 2011. Archived from the original on 25 October 2011. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  20. ^ Coyle, Colin (1 April 2012). "Google plans bridge to link three Dublin offices". The Sunday Times. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.
  21. ^ "Works Start on Google Bridge". Bennett Construction. 17 February 2014. Archived from the original on 10 March 2014. Retrieved 10 March 2014.

53°20′37″N 6°14′15″W / 53.343497°N 6.23762°W / 53.343497; -6.23762