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The most likely contenders are two shiploads of Irish   The buildings you see today all date from the 18th and
        women immigrants who arrived between 1727 and 1728.   19th centuries, built after the Great Siege. Amongst
        They had been shipped in to entertain the troops.    them, the threads of history run deep.
        Between February and June 1727, during the Anglo     In 1759 a synagogue was established at 91 Irish Town,
        Spanish War (1727 - 1729), the Rock was under siege by   Es Hayim, the Tree of Life. It was screened from the
        between 12,000 and 25,000 Spanish troops             street since the Treaty of Utrecht stipulated that neither
        determined to place Gibraltar back in Spanish hands.   Jews nor Moors could live in Gibraltar. It was rebuilt
        The defenders numbered 1,500 at the beginning of the   after the Great Siege and is still one of Gibraltar’s four
        siege rising to 5,000 towards the end. Conditions for   synagogues.
        the troops were incredibly hard. They were under     The most prominent building on the street is the red
        constant bombardment for four months. A historian,   brick Victorian police station on the corner of Cloister
        known only as S.H. wrote at the time, ‘A Soldier, not   Ramp and Irish Town. It served as the headquarters of
        three minutes on his Post, must be peeping over the   what became the Royal Gibraltar Police from 1864 until
        Wall at the Prince’s Line, his curiosity cost him his   1984. The RGP, formed in 1830, is the oldest police force
        Head, which a Cannon Ball made bold to carry away    in the Commonwealth outside the UK. It was granted
        without leave. Another, just come on Duty, lost his fire   the prefix ‘Royal’ by Queen Elizabeth in 1992.
        lock [sic] off his shoulder in the same Manner’
        Not surprisingly the soldiers turned to drink over and   The building opposite the police station was a bank in
                                                             the mid 19th century owned by Jerome Saccone. In
        above their allowance that S.H. tells us was, ‘a pint of   1888 it became the Gibraltar branch of the Anglo-
        Wine per Day, to prevent their frequent drunkenness.’
                                                             Egyptian Bank, a forerunner of Barclays.
        Drunkenness on duty was an offence and punishments   In 1885 the Spanish language newspaper ‘ El
        were harsh. The failure of a sortie in the April of 1727   Anunciador’ occupied number 95 Irish Town. The paper
        was laid at the doors of the gunners who were drunk.
                                                             was printed there until 1940. Today the ‘Panorama’
        It was hoped that the introduction of the Irish women   newspaper is produced in the same building.
        would help to relieve the problem. Whether it did or did   At the corner of Irish Town and Irish Place is a building
        not is not recorded. What is recorded is the fact that   that housed the Spanish Consulate General until 1954
        Irish Town became known as a street of ill repute and   when, following a visit by Queen Elizabeth to the Rock,
        the name stuck.                                      the Spanish government took offence and removed
                                                             their Consul. To this day Spain has no Consul in
                                                             At the northern end of Irish Town, on the facades of
                                                             Numbers 11, 17 and 46, you can see the winches used to
                                                             haul produce into warehouses. Number 57 is a 19th
                                                             century Merchant House. Although the winches are
                                                             gone, you can still see the large doors on the first floor
                                                             giving entrance to the storerooms. There were tobacco
                                                             factories, and coffee roasting works as well as general
                                                             purpose produce stores.
                                                             Enter the shop at Number 33 and look at the large
                                                             fanlight made of coloured glass, and the ornate ceiling.
                                                             The building was once the ‘Salon Ideal’, a music hall,
                                                             and later it incorporated Gibraltar’s first cinema.
                                                             Number 47 stands out with its yellow tiled façade from
                                                             the first floor to the roof and its ornate drainpipes.
                                                             Number 47 is the office of Smith Imossi who was the
                                                             agent for the P & O line whose first service to Gibraltar
                                                             was in 1837. They continue to operate as Ships and
                                                             Cruise Liner Agents. On the ground floor is the Gibraltar
                                                             Chart Agency.
                                                             In more recent times, in the 1960s a certain Mr Marlow
                                                             established the first English fish and chip shop in Irish
                                                             Town, at number 39. That shop is long gone but his son,
                                                             Steve, continues the family tradition from Marlow’s Fish
                                                             and Chip shop at Los Hidalgos in Manilva Municipality.
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