Irishtown is one of those districts, like Kilmainham or Oxmanstown, that started out as distinct villages or towns outside Dublin and then later, because of their proximity to the city, became absorbed into the general urban fabric as the city expanded around them. The intrinsic character of these places can be hard to define and even harder to protect, but future generations are not going to be impressed if we don't make some effort.
Apart from some weakness with some of the edges, on Church Avenue and at the approach from Ringsend, the village of Irishtown is still quite well defined with four parallel north/south streets, Irishtown Road, Bath Street, Pembroke Street and Strand Street crossed by a series of lanes and side streets. There is a strong indication that the centre of the village was marked by a small tringular 'civic' or market space formed by seting back the eastern frontage of the middle bit of Bath Street at the intersection of Herbert Pl. and Barrack Lane. Much of this space (if it actually existed) was subsequently built over and recently built over again.
Even if the market space (we'll call it) is no longer legible, the continued importance of the space is that it is highly probable that all the higher status houses in the village would have been built around it and consequently the structures that we're looking at today and which may not look especially impressive, may be more interesting under the surface.
In this context, a planning application was lodged last month to demolish two of these house, 11 & 13 Bath Street and replace them with something similar, because they're ' . . beyond economic refurbishment'
Mid 20th century O.S. map of Irishtown with the site of 11 & 13 outlined in red and the probable original outline of the 'Market space' dotted in blue.
nos. 11 & 13 Bath Street.
N. 13 Bath Street.
Rear of no. 11 showing stairwell return with, apparently, an attic storey flight. Architect's survey plans (Ground Floor above and First Floor below)
Herbert Place looking towards Bath Street (at the top of the possible original 'Market space'
5,7 & 9 Bath Street, tall two and three storey structures.
no. 22 Bath Street with attic storey gable window onto Herbert Place at the top of the 'Market space'.
I don't know the story of these two houses, but I believe there is more to them than meets the eye. For a start the buildings were originally red brick over a stone plinth and they appear to have had flush window frames. The internal arrangement, as recorded in the architect's survey drawings, is intriguing with corner fireplaces showing up all over the place, a strange interlocking of the two houses and stairwells that seem to want to go up to a third storey ( gabled? ) which is no longer there. The pub on the adjoining site at 7-9 Bath St is a three storey Victorian gabled structure which could well incorporate bits of earlier structures in it's fabric and the house at no. 22 opposite has a hipped gable (masked Billy?) that would have closed the vista at the top of the market space.
We've missed the deadline for commenting on this application, so it's down to the Planning Office to use their judgement and the provisions of the 'Residential Conservation Area' zoning to deal with this. The applicants are two well respected local publicans who's family have been pillars of the Irishtown community for ever. The architect is Conservation Grade III acredited! All we're missing is a deeper understanding of how valuable these two houses may be.
As an aside, the little shop was run by a lovely old man called Larry Skinner and many Fruit Pastiles were purchased in his tiny emporium.