Located between Trinity College and St Stephen's Green, Grafton Street is Dublin's most famous shopping street lined with landmark shops such as Brown Thomas Department Store and Weirs the Jewellers not to mention all the leading high street fashion stores. Many of the city's shopping finds and sartorial gems are to be found on the smaller tributary streets winding off Grafton Street such as Castle Market, Drury Street, Wicklow Street and the Georges Street Arcade - an indoor market well worth a visit.
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.
The north end of Grafton Street 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.
The street was known for prostitution in the 19th century. In the 1870s, 1,500 prostitutes were reputed to work in the street.
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.
The pedestrianisation of Grafton Street was first trialed in 1971 but prolonged delays meant that this wasn't made permanent until 1983, and then repaved in 1988. Objections came from councillors and small business owners, who alleged that pedestrianisation would lead to an increase in petty crime and antisocial behaviour.
The North end of the street, between Nassau Street and College Green is not pedestrianised.