Portobello is named for the capture by Admiral Edward Vernon in 1739 of Portobelo, Colón on Panama‘s Caribbean Coast, during a ten-year conflict between Britain and Spain which was popularly known as the War of Jenkins’ Ear. Jenkins, a captain with the Royal navy, had an ear severed when Spanish coastguards boarded his vessel. This outrage was the pretext for the conflict.
Portobello came into existence as a small suburb south of the city centre in the 18th century and the area centred on Richmond Street became a favoured destination for Jewish refugees fleeing from pogroms in Eastern Europe. It quickly inherited the sobriquet “Little Jerusalem”.
The hotel at the harbour was opened in 1807 and was popular among officers visiting the nearby Portobello Barracks, however facilities were not to the exacting standards of an 1871 version of “Mr Angry of Sandymount”, promting a stern letter to the Irish times, lamenting the state of service in its dining room.
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