Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby declanjh » Tue Mar 30, 2010 4:16 pm

Hi. My name is Declan and i'm a final year student in NCAD on Thomas street. I'm currently making a documentary about the history of cobblestone streets in Dublin, with particular interest in those of The Liberties area and Temple Bar. I'm looking for help with my investigation...

My interest was aroused by various versions of a story whereby DCC removed the cobblestones from the Liberties and re-installed them in Temple Bar during it's regeneration.

While most of my research has pointed to this not being true, or at least not being so black and white, it is not the facts that I am primarily interested in. I'm exploring the various accounts that people in the area have of the cobblestones' disappearance and using the question "who took the cobblestones from the liberties" as a tool to explore many other topics such as public space, our city, regeneration, truth, myth...

Ultimately the documentary doesn't primarily seek to find out what actually happened to the Liberties cobblestone streets, but seeks to explore the truths held my local people.

I would be very grateful for any help anyone could give me. If anyone knew any good avenues for investigation (people/dcc/reports/etc) and as well, if anyone had any anecdotal/speculative theories, they would be hugely appreciated.

My email address is declanjh@gmail.com

Thank you.
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Re: Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby gunter » Tue Mar 30, 2010 7:37 pm

declanjh wrote:. . . . . it is not the facts that I am primarily interested in.

. . . . I'm exploring the various accounts that people in the area have of the cobblestones' disappearance and using the question "who took the cobblestones from the liberties" as a tool to explore many other topics such as public space, our city, regeneration, truth, myth...


So you're not really interested in the story, you're interested in the bullshit people talk about the story.

. . . . and this is going to tell you something about ''public space, our city, regeneration, truth, myth . . . ''

how does that work?
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Re: Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby jesus_o_murchu » Wed Mar 31, 2010 9:35 pm

Sounds like an interesting project.

Some references you probably already know of but might be of use anyway:

http://www.nli.ie/en/national-photographic-archive.aspx

http://www.iarc.ie/

For what its worth I remember as a kid during the early phases of the temple bar regeneration the tarmac on the roads were being dug up to be replaced with cobblestone setts. 'Its for the tourists', my dad would explain. It took me years to make sense of this.
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Re: Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby foremanjoe » Wed Mar 31, 2010 11:08 pm

gunter wrote:So you're not really interested in the story, you're interested in the bullshit people talk about the story.


Sounds like he's come to the right place then!
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Re: Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby Devin » Thu Apr 01, 2010 12:14 am

Declan, to add to what's been said already, beware of 'Dublin in the rare oul times' codology. Leaving aside where Temple Bar's setts came from for a moment, the No. 1 consideration for a city-centre street surface of setts* today, whether it be historic or recently relaid, is that it be a cohesive and high quality surface. The quality of the 1990s relaid sett surfaces in Temple Bar are utterly appalling. The technique used - laying the setts an inch apart then pouring tar between - is not a historic treatment. It is a poor surface to begin with - uncomfortable to cycle on or push a buggy over - then the tar wears away over time so you've got large gaps in between each stone, then it's really horrendous. This can be seen in many locations in Temple Bar - Eustace Street in particular, I think.

There was a Temple Bar Framework Plan in 2004 by architect Sean Harrington (http://www.sha.ie) which among many other recommendations said that the sett surfaces should be relaid to achieve a tighter, improved surface. On Temple Lane, the 1990s surface had got so bad by last year that it had to be relaid. But was it done according to the recommendations of the 2004 plan? No. It was 'business as usual', with DCC's Roads Maintenance workers laying the setts with wide gaps and pouring tar in between. Why? Maybe they didn't have the money to start looking at a new technique ....... or more likely just that nobody cares.

It would be good if you could look at this issue in your film, and the fact that, for a major European city, we scandalously often don't employ conservation expertise when dealing with historic street furniture and surfaces. DCC I understand have produced a guidance manual on this topic but I have not seen it yet.

Then there's junctions. Street junctions of setts used to be a work of art. Now the setts just meet at a crude diagonal line - see any junction in Temple Bar. Many of the old ones were unecessarily destroyed in the '80s and '90s.


*Although 'cobble' is in common usage to refer to surfaces such as those of Temple Bar, I believe 'sett' is actually the technically correct term, while 'cobble' refers to the smaller circluar stones used, for eg., in the surface of the front square of Trinity College.
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Re: Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby StephenC » Thu Apr 01, 2010 10:29 am

Declan - try contacting the DCC Heritage Officer Charles Duggan. His dept undertook a study of historic paving and setts recently which might provide some valuable information.
It sounds like an interesting project. Be good to hear more of it when completed.
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Re: Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby declanjh » Sun Apr 04, 2010 4:21 pm

Thank you all for the replies...

Hi Gunter.
You're close. I'd say I'm not only interested in the facts of what happened, but i have also found that the stories that people hold to be true, reveal interesting insights into those people and their relationship with the city.

"Jesus"
I've spoken to a man who claims that the original Temple Bar setts were taken up by CIE workers and sold privately to individuals before Haughey recognised the value of having a cultural centre in Dublin. The man in question lives in Rathgar and claims to have bought original Temple Bar Cobblestones himself and they now pave his drive way.

The, lets say, fabrication of a historical/cultural centre for the purposes of tourism is an interesting topic, and is one that has been touched on quite frequently in my discussions with people. The simple cobbled sett as an object alone holds deep meanings beyond that of many quarried lumps of stone.

Devin
Your point on codology is duly noted. Thank you. ;)

I believe the guidance manual you're speaking of is one produced by the Dublin Civic Trust in recent years?
I remember them vividly 'improving' Temple Lane last summer. It would seem like the typical approach of DCC; to do the least amount of work to keep the majority of people happy.


Thanks for the advice StephenC.

_________________________________________________

Do any of you have much information on the DCC storage facility on Marrowbone Lane. I have been told that it houses many uprooted street surfaces and furniture, but also told that it is somewhat of a fortress.
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Re: Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby declanjh » Sun Apr 04, 2010 4:31 pm

Thank you all for the replies...

Hi Gunter.
You're close. I'd say I'm not only interested in the facts of what happened, but i have also found that the stories that people hold to be true, reveal interesting insights into those people and their relationship with the city.

"Jesus"
I've spoken to a man who claims that the original Temple Bar setts were taken up by CIE workers and sold privately to individuals before Haughey recognised the value of having a cultural centre in Dublin. The man in question lives in Rathgar and claims to have bought original Temple Bar Cobblestones himself and they now pave his drive way.

The, lets say, fabrication of a historical/cultural centre for the purposes of tourism is an interesting topic, and is one that has been touched on quite frequently in my discussions with people. The simple cobbled sett as an object alone holds deep meanings beyond that of many quarried lumps of stone.

Devin
Your point on codology is duly noted. Thank you. ;)

I believe the guidance manual you're speaking of is one produced by the Dublin Civic Trust in recent years?
I remember them vividly 'improving' Temple Lane last summer. It would seem like the typical approach of DCC; to do the least amount of work to keep the majority of people happy.


Thanks for the advice StephenC.

_________________________________________________

Do any of you have much information on the DCC storage facility on Marrowbone Lane. I have been told that it houses many uprooted street surfaces and furniture, but also told that it is somewhat of a fortress.
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Re: Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby Smithfield Resi » Mon Apr 05, 2010 2:45 pm

believe the guidance manual you're speaking of is one produced by the Dublin Civic Trust in recent years?
I remember them vividly 'improving' Temple Lane last summer. It would seem like the typical approach of DCC; to do the least amount of work to keep the majority of people happy.

No, there was a tender issued for a report on historic street surfaces in 2008.

http://www.etenders.gov.ie/search/show/search_view.aspx?ID=FEB097108

AIMS

The aim of the brief is to establish best conservation practice to inform the lifting, storage, re-setting and maintenance of historic street furniture in Dublin City. The document will have a broad application but will be required specifically to guide Dublin City Council' Roads Department and private contractors engaged in handling historic street furniture. It is envisaged that the Council will bring the approved document to publication in the form of a guidance manual.

I don't believe that either the report ot the guidance manual have been published.
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Re: Disappearance of Cobblestone Setts in Dublin

Postby StephenC » Mon Apr 05, 2010 4:54 pm

Like I said above....contact DCC Heritage
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