A very rarely spoken about Zoological gardens that was located in Dublin
This Establishment definitely opened in 1839 as the Royal Portobello Gardens it was started by a William Drewett and a Business Partner Gilbert Sanders … Mr Drewett was in 1834 listed as the Curator of The Royal Zoological Society of Dublin (Dublin Zoo which opened in 1830) ….. Mr Sanders was a “Student of Zoology in Glasgow ” I believe ….
From records I have viewed it would appear that the Gardens were opened as Pleasure Gardens and by May 1840 it was being listed as the Portobello Zoological and Pleasure Gardens …. when it first opened there was a Seal , An American Tapir , Ungulates and Birds and admission was 6d
By May 1840 Monkeys had been added ….
By June 1840 there was a Fire at the Gardens no reports of extensive damage…
In July 1840 it was reported that Mr Battys Travelling Menagerie brought his Lions and Leopards to the Gardens for a week only ….
September 1840 there was a parting of the ways between Mr Drewett and Mr Sanders the Partnership was dissolved and the reason given was due to Mr Drewetts debts (although no further information was given ) .. Mr Drewett continued the Business on his own ..
On the 16th March 1841 a Young Male Elephant arrived from Ceylon a day before St Patricks Day and admission to the gardens was reduced to celebrate the arrival …
In February 1843 an Indian Rhinoceros was brought in but only on a short term loan .
In 1844 another fire at the Gardens caused by a Hot Air Balloon that was attempting to land at the Gardens as part of an attraction … the only damage done seemingly was that the Silk from the Balloon was totally destroyed by the fire..
On 21st August 1846 there was quite a major fire that destroyed the Music and Concert Rooms and also the dressing rooms …A committee was formed locally to try and raise funds to help Mr Drewett and his family try and get the business back up and running … Little else was reported about the Zoological side of the business thereafter and my assumption is that the Zoological part of the gardens ended here
In 1849 the Gardens were still open for Sideshows ….
In August 1851 Mr Drewett who was at the time of this report ” A former Proprietor of Portobello Zoological Gardens” Drowned after falling into Dublin Quay whilst crossing a plank to get off of a Paddle Steamer (Boat called Trafalgar) …. Now his Wife and children were destitute and once again a Committee was formed to try and support the family …..
As for the Gardens they did reopen after Mr Drewetts death as the show “had to go on ” …. It is unclear how successful or not it was after his death but by 1855 it was being advertised to let and with no takers it was finally advertised for sale … The lake was drained and within a few years St Kevins Church was built upon the land and the Church i believe is now apartments
Image is from a Sketch map of 1840
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