Cowgate Edinburgh

The street name was from the way the farmers brought their livestock to market. The Cow Gate to the Grassmarket. Famous for the birthplace of Irishman James Connolly and the home of Cardinal Beaton and the place the first book was printed in Scotland. The Cowgate is now an area where there are many pub, night clubs, restaurants and accommodation within a few hundred metres of the Royal Mile and attached to the Grassmarket.  

Cowgatehead at the east end of the Grassmarket

South Bridge and George IV Bridge Edinburgh

The 2 bridges that span the Cowgate in Edinburgh were built to allow access to the south of Edinburgh The South Bridge was completed in 1788 and the George IV Bridge was completed in 1832 both starting from the Royal Mile.

 George IV Bridge spans the Cowgate in the West   The South Bridge in the Cowgate spans over the Cowgate in the east


The Magdalen Chapel Cowgate Edinburgh 


The Magdalen Chapel was Built by a bequeath by Michael MacQueen on his death in 1537. His wife managed the build prior to her death in 1553. On the plaque above the door show their initials and the date of Janet Rynd’s death .

 Magdalen Chapel Cowgate west Edinburgh  Magdalen Chapel lintel above entrance in Cowgate Edinburgh

James Connelly Birthplace Plaque Cowgate Edinburgh

James Connolly was born in Edinburgh at 107 Cowgate on 5 June 1868. The first time he stood on Irish soil was as a British soldier at the age of fourteen. He was the secretary of the Scottish Socialist Federation in 1892 aged 24. He also founded the Irish Socialist Republican Party who’s aims were to secure the national and economic freedom of the Irish people. He started a weekly newspaper, the Workers’ Republic and the first publication was issued in August of 1898. At the age of 46 in 1914 he became Acting General Secretary of Irish Transport and General Workers Union. He formed an Anti-War Committee and as the leader he Committed the Labour movement to oppose recruitment and conscription to the British Army ‘We serve neither King nor Kaiser, but Ireland’. When the Secret military council of the I.R.B.  decided on an armed rising in 1916, Connolly took part in the preparations and in 1916 he had become convinced that a nationalist revolution was the only way to free Ireland from what he saw as imperial and capitalist oppression. He was sentenced to death for his part in the uprising and was executed in Kilmainham Gaol 12 May 1916.

 James Connelly Birthplace Cowgate Edinburgh    James Connelly Birthplace Plaque Cowgate Edinburgh

St Cecilia’s Hall  Niddry Wynd Edinburgh

St Cecilia’s Hall was built for the Musical Society of Edinburgh in 1762 by Robert Mylne a Scottish architect and Stone mason from a famous Edinburgh family of builders and stonemasons. The Musical Society of Edinburgh previously occupied St Mary’s Chapel from 1728 – 1762 when they moved to St Cecilia’s Hall which was purpose built for them by Robert Mylne in 1762. St Cecilia’s Hall had an auditorium that held 500 seated guests and concerts were held daily starting in the early evening and were always very well attended. Niddry Wynd was widened circa 1750 and was renamed as a Niddry Street. St Cecilia’s Hall is now part of the University of Edinburgh and has undergone a lengthy renovation. St Cecilia’s Hall is now a musical instrument museum and concert Hall which makes it one of the oldest remaining concert halls in Britain and oldest in Scotland still in use.

At the West end of the Cowgate Niddry Street St Cecilia's Hall Royal Mile Edinburgh

Scotland’s First Printed Book Cowgate Edinburgh

This plaque donates the place where the first printing of a book in Scotland was. The printers Walter Chepman and Andrew Myllar printed the first book in 1508 after being granted a licence by King (James IV) a year earlier. The printers stood in the Cowgate at the foot of Blackfriars Street near to Cardinal Beaton’s House.

At the west end of the Cowgate on Blackfriars Street Walter Chepman and Androw Myller Printed first Book Edinburgh


Cardinal Beaton’s House Cowgate Edinburgh

David Beaton was born in 1494 and died in 1546. On 20 December 1539 David Beaton was made a Cardinal by Pope Paul III. Cardinal Beaton became a regent for Mary Queen of Scots and appointed himself the Chancellor of Scotland in 1543. He was disliked by most but was in favour with the royals of both France and Britain. He had many mistresses and 20 illegitimate children. He was arrested for fraud and the cause of the rough wooing, Henry the VIII invasion of Scotland.    

At the west end of the Cowgate on Blackfriars Street Walter Chepman and Androw Myller Printed first Book Edinburgh


St Patrick’s R.C. Church Cowgate Edinburgh

St Patrick’s Edinburgh was built in 1774. It was first Presbyterian then Episcopal and finally in 1856 it opened as a Catholic church to serve the growing Irish community in Edinburgh. There were reported to be 2600 attend the first service.  In 1869 Canon Edward Hannan established the Catholic Young Men’s Society (CYMS) and started a football team to help the Irish Catholic community from Edinburgh’s Southside mix with the larger Edinburgh Catholic community. It was decided after many different names were rejected that the football club should be named Hibernian after the Roman name for Ireland. The Hibernian Football Club have been a part of Edinburgh sporting history ever since.

St Patrick's R.C Church Cowgate Edinburgh


Heriot’s School Cowgate Edinburgh

Heriot’s School Cowgate was in a building on the corner of the Cowgate and Pleasance in Edinburgh. This building is still standing originally built between 1838 -1840 the clock face has a dte of 1840 and on the front of the building is an inscription GEORGE HERIOTS | HOSPITAL | SCHOOL | 1838  This is one of sene schools opened by the govenors of Heriot’s school to educate poor children throughout the city. 

Heriot's School Cowgate Edinburgh 1840


Link to West Bow