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A thriving cultural and creative hub, South William Street is among Dublin's trendiest places to shop, eat, drink and party! Aoife Gray takes a look at some of the social, culinary and educational highpoints that give the street its special atmosphere.

A bustling social centre day or night, South William Street is one of Dublin's great streets. Located in the heart of the city, just west of Grafton Street, in keeping with the area's stylish past, it's lined with some of the capital's best and hippest stores, bars and eateries. It is the spine of the wider area, which has been dubbed The Creative Quarter and is being promoted as a new city centre mecca by Dublin City BID.

It makes sense. For over a century, South William Street was the centre of the city's rag trade: a place where dress-makers and furriers, glove-makers and couture coat manufacturers had clustered to sell their wares, including the legendary Jack Clarke, a maker of fine ladies outerwear that was sold on Fifth Avenue in New York and in Harrods of London, and which now fetch more than a pretty penny on eBay! This place has history.

That old sense of community lingers but has taken on a different, more modern – and impressively bohemian – guise. From street performers filling the air with song to Lisa Morrissey, the acupuncturist credited with keeping the workers of the street in good health, it's clear that there's a fiercely strong sense of togetherness among the businesses that call South William Street home. The street even has its own football team!

And while they may at times be vying for the same customers, it's clear that the diverse range of businesses is what keeps the street so vibrant. When good cafes, bars and restaurants cluster – from The Port House at one end to Bear at the other – the street itself becomes a magnet. Which is how it is: in the summer you can sit on the steps of the Powerscourt Town House centre and in the evenings, the clientele from bars like Grogan's, Pygmalion and Peter's Pub spill out happily onto the pavements.

In the best possible sense, all human life is here. From sex shops, bars and fortune tellers to restaurants, hairdressers, fashion outlets and colleges, here is a selection of some of the best of what South William Street has to offer...

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