Nicholas Street

Nicholas Street

Postby zulutango » Fri Jun 03, 2011 11:31 pm

I attended a meeting in city hall today where members of the City Council and Shannon Development sat down with local stakeholders with a view to kickstarting a major revamp of Nicholas Street.

The representatives from the council and Shannon Development were of the view that funding would be made available but that it needed to be applied for in the next month, or two at the outset. That, of course, doesn't give much time for meaningful contribution from various expert and interested people.

I am of the view that if they get the plan right, then it could dramatically change the whole area, and indeed could have a hugely positive effect on Limerick City. Nicholas Street is currently quite derelict but has much potential for tourism given its heritage. My concern is that the potential isn't recognised by the council or Shannon Development and that a plan may be devised hastily and with relatively little input from the right people.

A view was expressed by one of the Council officials that the archaeology of the area could cause difficulties. The clear implication was that it could be a hindrance rather than an asset or an opportunity. It is a disappointing attitude, to say the least.

It was decided that a brainstorming seminar should be held the week after next where ideas are thrashed out. This should include architects, urban designers, heritage experts, tourism experts, local stakeholders, etc. Following this, a coherent plan/vision should be put forward to the powers that be in the Council and Shannon Development.

If there is much interest here, I'll add to this thread as I hear of any updates vis à vis time and venue for the seminar.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby CologneMike » Thu Jun 16, 2011 8:07 pm

Meeting on Nicholas Street (Limerick Post)

A meeting to kickstart a consultation process regarding the redevelopment of Nicholas Street will be held in the Absolute Hotel on Tuesday, June 21, commencing at 7.30pm.

The meeting, which is being hosted by St. Mary’s Community Umbrella Group, will have the architect, Hugh Kelly, as facilitator.

Brian Thompson, architect, said anyone who feels that they can contribute to the meeting will be welcome to do so. “We don’t, however, want the event to be negative – it’s a consultative process which we want to be constructive”.

Hmmm . . . . . Gunter, what are you doing next Tuesday?

See old post. http://www.archiseek.com/forum/viewtopic.php?f=46&t=7342&start=25#p100208

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Dutch Gables ~ Nicholas Street Impression 1845
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby zulutango » Sat Jun 18, 2011 2:37 am

Thanks CologneMike. Remember that this isn't a meeting of architects. It's a meeting of anyone who is interested in Nicholas Street and the general area, so residents, business people, community leaders as well as those with professional expertise may attend. It's open to all, as far as I understand it.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby CologneMike » Sat Jun 18, 2011 9:23 pm

I would love to see a full reconstruction of the Exchange (1778 building) on Nicholas Street.

As space for re-internment of those graves could be available within the cemetery.

The original site of the exchange itself does not appear to be that large.

The ground floor was once used as a covered market and the first floor was the council chamber (1673 building).

By inserting a floor with six windows plus a little roof on top and we have our Exchange restored to its original state.

This would be an amazing add on for the Cathedral for administrative / residential purposes as their corner church house (Nicholas Street / Saint Augustine Place) is not really fitting for such a Cathedral.

Or alternatively as a civic building, as it would make an excellent location as a Registry Office for performing civil marriages.

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The Exchange from a painting of 1820.

It was the headquarters of Limerick Corporation from 1673 to 1846.

Limerick Corporation itself financed the construction of its own headquarters. In 1702, the exchange, which had been severely damaged during the sieges of 1690-91, was rebuilt during the mayoralty of William Davis. After this initial project was completed, little more was done fro sixty years. During the period of the Corporation Roches, all of the Limerick civic buildings were allowed to decay. In 1761, the Committee of the Irish House of Commons which investigated abuses in the Limerick Corporation reported that ‘the thosel’ and market house (i.e. the Exchange) of the said city are in a ruinous condition, that the courthouse is pulled down and the gaol not fit for the reception of prisoners.

Thomas Smyth MP (1776-85) took control of the Corporation in 1776, Smyth had the Exchange entirely rebuilt in 1777-78. The Corporation met the total cost, amounting to £1500. The dean and chapter of St. Mary’s Cathedral had donated a part of the churchyard to the Corporation, so the new Exchange was larger than the old, and unlike the latter, it did not project onto the street.

(History of Limerick Corporation by Mathew Potter)


The Acquisition of a new Town Hall Rutland Street

One of the most striking differences between municipal authorities in Britain and Ireland in the nineteenth century was the proliferation of magnificent new city and town halls in the former as compared to the latter. Many British cities expanded rapidly in both wealth and population as a result of the Industrial Revolution and expressed their confidence and civic pride in the construction of vast new civic headquarters.

Amongst the most striking examples were the city halls in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow. Significantly, the most grandiose city hall built in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was that of the industrial city of Belfast.

By contrast, the economically depressed cities and towns of southern Ireland built no such fine civic headquarters. In 1852, Dublin Corporation had to be content with taking over the former Royal Exchange (a comparatively small, though beautiful building which had been used by the Dublin Guild of Merchants as a business centre) and converting it into the new City Hall.

A similar development had occurred in Limerick in the 1840s. One of the most symbolic acts of the Reformed Corporation was the removal of the civic headquarters from the old city to Newtown Pery. By this time the old Exchange was considered to be to small, and to be situated in too peripheral a location for a municipal authority that now aspired to establish its control over Newtown Pery.

The Commercial Buildings had housed both the Chamber of Commerce and the Commissioners of St Michaels Parish. After they both relocated the building was purchased by the Corporation in 1846 and became the new Town Hall.
The fate of the old Exchange was to be a sad one. It was abandoned by the Corporation and gradually fell into ruins. In 1884, it was purchased from the local authority by a wealthy member of the Church of Ireland named Robert Hunt who then presented it free of charge to St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was immediately demolished and the site used to extend the burial ground surrounding the Cathedral. However, the colonnade at the front of the Exchange was salvaged and was incorporated into the wall of the burial ground.

(History of Limerick Corporation by Mathew Potter)
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby gunter » Tue Jun 21, 2011 12:54 am

CologneMike wrote:Meeting on Nicholas Street (Limerick Post)

A meeting to kickstart a consultation process regarding the redevelopment of Nicholas Street will be held in the Absolute Hotel on Tuesday, June 21, commencing at 7.30pm.

Hmmm . . . . . Gunter, what are you doing next Tuesday?



It sounds like you probably have more than enough architects down there already.

The traders and property owners are probably going to want to talk about issues other than the heritage and the architecture, but really the key to regenerating a street like Nicholas Street has to be to start with detailed survey work. We need to know exactly what we’re dealing with before we start conjuring up wonderful regenerate proposals. If owners would agree to open their doors to an architectural survey that would be a great first step.

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Unlike Mary Street which has been almost completely scorched, on the face of it, there are at least a dozen structures on Nicholas Street that retain significant fabric from the period [medieval to mid 18th century] when the street was at the apex of it’s prestige and its urban development. If this is the case, addressing those structures with a bit of sensitivity and imagination could form the basis for a really worthwhile regeneration plan.

On Mary Street; it turns out that that great print in Wilkinson’s History is actually of Mary Street not Nicholas Street, although there is every reason to believe that the merchant houses of Nicholas Street were every bit as impressive as these in their day.

Image Image

I’m 95% certain that these two views are actually of the same streetscape, but from opposite directions. The clue is the tall, five storey house in the left foreground of the photograph and in the distance in the print.

The first house in the 1845 print is therefore the corner house on Creagh Lane and it and its neighbours must have been reduced to two/three-storey and re-fronted later in the 19th century. The four bay house in the middle [re-fronted as a three-bay in the photograph] would have fronted the site occupied by Fanning’s fine 16th century stone merchant houses that were re-fronted with a brick Dutch gabled elevation post 1691, like the extraordinary five-storey house beside the Exchange. The accuracy of the Wilkinson print is demonstrated by the correct depiction of the odd, bunched, windows in the first of the four narrower Billys beyond this house, which we can also see clearly in the photograph.

Image
a conjectural reconstruction drawing of the streetscape based on both the late 19th century photograph and the Wilkinson print [with some notional shopfronts]
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby gunter » Tue Jun 21, 2011 11:23 am

Image

I managed to garble that point about the Fanning’s Castle site last night.

This is what I was trying to say;

As previously identified by CologneMike, the four-bay house in the middle [re-fronted as a three-bay in the photograph] would have fronted the site occupied by Fanning’s Castle [highlighted in the map above] and I have the feeling, from the clues in the photograph and the way it is depicted in the print, that it may have been one of those fine 16th century stone merchant houses that had become re-fronted with a brick Dutch gabled elevation in the post 1691 period, like the extraordinary five-storey house beside the Exchange.

Back to Nicholas Street;

Image

I agree that the opening up of that great Exchange arcade and creating a civic space on the [hopefully] flag-stoned footprint of the excavated building and opening the arcade would at least create a link in directly from Nicholas Street.

The adjacent cathedral, which you’d imagine would be the highlight of the street, is actually walled off from Nicholas Street is a rather crude way.

Image ImageImage

Addressing this could do a lot to lift the street.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby CologneMike » Wed Jun 22, 2011 11:48 pm

The original Exchange building (1673) had been severely damaged during the sieges of 1690-91 and was rebuilt in 1702.

The Exchange was entirely rebuilt again in 1777-78.

I wonder were the columns recycled from original (1673) building?

Drawing from Journal of Thomas Dineley 1681

Image
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby CologneMike » Thu Jun 23, 2011 12:01 am

gunter wrote:I’m 95% certain that these two views are actually of the same streetscape, but from opposite directions.


I thought the same at first, since the houses B, C, D, E, and F matched perfectly.

But Wilkinson’s houses G, H, I and J had each an extra window bay, so I dismissed any possible connection.

However the fact that the houses G, H, I and J were scaled down in size, they were more than likely as you say re-fronted with one window bay less.

Gunter, your 95% hunch is convincing.

Hmmm . . . . that would have been a nice one for the panel to solve at last night’s gathering.

Mary Street Map 1840 (larger image link http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3104/5861071183_28a109005a_b.jpg)

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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby daire english » Mon Jun 27, 2011 7:20 pm

Is it possible to rebuild some of the original Dutch billys buildings in the same way as that on castle lane ? Or would that ruin the historical authenticity of the street ?
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby Griff » Thu Jun 30, 2011 10:16 am

On the contrary rebuilding Dutch billys on Nicholas street would help bring back some of the original character of what was once the principal street in Limerick. I also would like to see Fannings Castle restored in a way that it can be visited and also lit at night-time - I know this is Mary street but it is a continuation from Nicholas st.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby daire english » Thu Jun 30, 2011 9:03 pm

would the execution of rebuilding dutch billys be realistic or too expensive i wonder ?
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby gunter » Fri Jul 01, 2011 12:42 am

Just talking out loud about reconstruction will set off little warning lights in ICOMOS headquarters. Conservation is the doctrinal wing of the architectural profession and the custodians take their catechism very seriously.

At the risk of being beaten to death with a copy of the Venice Charter, I agree that there is a case to be made for reconstruction in cases like the terrace of Billys on Mary Street.

What that terrace represents is a fragment of a once great main street, whose absence leaves a void in our understanding of the urban history of the city.

The site remains essentially undeveloped today preserving basement layers and at least one substantial upstanding party wall. Sufficient photographic records exist which if combined with typological comparisons and a detailed archaeological investigation would reduce the reliance on conjecture to a minimum.

The model of urban development that these buildings represented, although three hundred years old, remains the standard that we would regard as just about the optimum in terms of height and density today, hence a reconstruction would in no way be in conflict with the sustainable urban redevelopment of the site.

A reconstruction project of this scale could be the catalyst for the regeneration of the entire street

When can we start?
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby daire english » Fri Jul 01, 2011 5:37 pm

Is there funding available for mary street or is the focus primarily on Nicholas ?
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby zulutango » Mon Jul 04, 2011 1:54 am

my understanding is there is no funding yet available, or none applied for yet.

I'm not too keen on the the Dutch billys being recreated. I guess I don't have much confidence in the powers that be to carry it off successfully. Their attempts in Castle Lane were pretty poor. In any case, the notion of re-creating old streetscapes is not a very sound one.I really think we should be preserving what we have and make the most of it, but contemporary architecture is the way forward otherwise.

Also, there are far greater things to consider than architecure if the street is ever to thrive again. We must consider the residential and economic aspects as much as we should consider the aesthetic ones. All three do very much go together.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby CologneMike » Mon Jul 04, 2011 8:40 pm

daire english wrote:Is it possible to rebuild some of the original Dutch billys buildings in the same way as that on castle lane ? Or would that ruin the historical authenticity of the street ?

zulutango wrote:I'm not too keen on the the Dutch billys being recreated. I guess I don't have much confidence in the powers that be to carry it off successfully. Their attempts in Castle Lane were pretty poor.


Castle Lane definitely not the way to go.

I think it’s worth re-posting this article on the Castle Lane from Frank McDonald, from some thirteen years ago.

In essence he wrote . . . .

The pair of Dutch Billys, nicely tuck-pointed and "authentic" in every detail, house the kitchen and toilets of the new Castle Lane Tavern; one entrance is a fire exit from the pub. And the humble labourer's house next door is also part of this "re-created early 18th century tavern".


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Photo from informatique

Historical pastiche a dubious tribute to Limerick's heritage

Shannon Development rolled out the red carpet last weekend for the official opening of its latest flagship project, a £3.8 million tourism development involving the construction of a street beside King John's Castle and the refurbishment of its visitor centre.

Castle Lane contains "a blend of several different examples of Limerick's architectural heritage" - a mid-18th century granary, two early 18th century "Dutch Billy" gabled houses, a more humble urban labourer's cottage and a stone-fronted merchant's house with a 17th century appearance.

All beautifully built by Michael McNamara and Company, the complex is the end-product of market research commissioned by Shannon Development which identified the need for a "magnet tourism project" for Limerick that might transform it into an "international tourist destination".

The State's only regional development company had a problem. The grey metal-clad visitor centre at the castle, built in 1990, had never won public approval; Cllr John Gilligan, an independent member of Limerick Corporation, once invited "the entire populace" to throw stones at the offending structure.

Browbeaten by this continuing controversy, Shannon Development turned away from contemporary architecture towards quasi-historical pastiche when it came to building Castle Lane - despite strenuous objections from the Heritage Council, which felt such a solution would lack authenticity.

The National Monuments Service opposes the scheme because it meant building in the early 13th century castle moat, parallel to its southern wall. This involved abandoning earlier plans to line Castle Lane with "medieval" buildings, forcing Shannon Development to pick a later period for its project.

Murray O'Laoire, the award-winning architects' firm which designed the castle's visitor centre, believed a contemporary building would be the most appropriate solution. But its advice was rejected, although it was persuaded to stay on, at least, as project managers, leaving the design work for others.

Mr Hugh Murray, who heads the firm's Limerick office, said last weekend he was unhappy about a Shannon Development press release listing Murray O'Laoire as the architects. "I've always said that, no matter what happens, I'll be defending the visitor centre but I won't be defending [Castle Lane]."

To counter public loathing of the visitor centre, Event Ireland - which specialises in heritage projects - was commissioned to improve its appearance by fixing a series of full-height heraldic banners on both sides of the structure. These give the building a lift, making it look more festive.

The visitor centre forecourt has also been re-ordered, with the moat and bridge removed and steel handrails replaced by timber. Inside, the "complete refurbishment" includes covering up the main windows to provide space for wax dummies in full regalia of James II, William III and others involved in the Siege of Limerick.

As for the buildings on Castle Lane, the "mid-18th century" granary at the corner of Nicholas Street will be the new home of Limerick City Museum; it is relocating there from a real Georgian house on John's Square. The remaining buildings constitute a very large "themed pub".

The pair of Dutch Billys, nicely tuck-pointed and "authentic" in every detail, house the kitchen and toilets of the new Castle Lane Tavern; one entrance is a fire exit from the pub. And the humble labourer's house next door is also part of this "re-created early 18th century tavern".

Executed by McNally Design, responsible for numerous Irish "themed pubs" abroad, it has beams decorated with old carpenter's tools to evoke a workshop while upstairs visitors are seated at trestle tables in a room with painted trompe l'oeil blockwork on the walls and even the ceiling.

At both levels, the "labourer's cottage" opens out into the "17th century merchant's house", which contains a "gentry bar" with a stone-built fireplace on the ground-floor and an even larger one upstairs, where the high ceiling, supported by king-post trusses, is decorated in mid-19th century Gothic Revival style, after Pugin.

The piece de resistance is an oriel window in the corner, which offers a panoramic view over the River Shannon; otherwise, because the windows are relatively small and there are few of them, the building fails to capitalise on its location - though Castle Lane does link Nicholas Street with the riverside walk.

"In essence, from an architectural viewpoint, the buildings which make up Castle Lane represent different examples of Limerick's built heritage of which some [notably the Dutch gables] are now largely lost to us," says Shannon Development. "They represent a tribute to an architectural legacy which is being increasingly destroyed."

This is part of the problem. While the new quasi-historical complex was clad in brick and stone salvaged from buildings demolished in Limerick, it is clear the city is failing to look after its real architectural heritage; a plethora of PVC windows deface the Crescent, centrepiece of Georgian Limerick.

Shannon Development is on firmer ground with its latest project at Bunratty Folk Park. This involved re-erecting a redundant Regency Gothic Church of Ireland parish church from Ardcroney, near Borrisokane, Co Tipperary. There are even plans to plant yew trees to make it look as if it has always been there.

Bunratty Folk Park also contains several invented buildings, and there is nothing wrong with that because they stand within a corral. But was it right to build quasi-historical buildings at Castle Lane in the heart of Limerick?

Frank McDonald

© The Irish Times May 22, 1998
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby CologneMike » Mon Jul 04, 2011 9:06 pm

Here another view of those two Dutch gables on Castle Lane.

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Below the real thing, three Dutch gabled houses (1900) on Meat Market Lane, off Sheep Street. (See Mary Street map above).

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zulutango wrote:. . . . . Their attempts in Castle Lane were pretty poor. In any case, the notion of re-creating old streetscapes is not a very sound one. I really think we should be preserving what we have and make the most of it, . . . . .


I think Gunter’s suggestion that the owners should agree to open their doors to an architectural survey to see what is there, as the right way to start.

The old images uploaded here should give one a good idea as to how the area once looked like.

Is it not a bit premature to start dismissing ideas or talk about funding, are we still not in the brainstorming phase?

zulutango wrote:. . . . . but contemporary architecture is the way forward . . . . .


These could be an interesting alternative for Mary Street from the City of Bremen (Image Gunter).

Were there any ideas suggested at that meeting?

Image
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby gunter » Tue Jul 05, 2011 12:57 pm

zulutango wrote:I'm not too keen on the the Dutch billys being recreated. I guess I don't have much confidence in the powers that be to carry it off successfully. Their attempts in Castle Lane were pretty poor. In any case, the notion of re-creating old streetscapes is not a very sound one.


I think we should keep an open mind on that one and concentrate on assembling more information. Castle Lane wasn't a reconstruction, as I understant it, it was a effort to create a tourist precinct using representative building types plucked from the records. What I'd be proposing for the Mary Street site [and only if deeper research supported it] would be a million miles away from what was attempted on Castle Lane.

zulutango wrote:I really think we should be preserving what we have and make the most of it, but contemporary architecture is the way forward otherwise.


I would agree with that, but I think there is space for both approaches in cases like Nicholas St/Mary Street, where the scale of what's been lost to simple decay and dereliction will never be appreciated without making a real effort to restore the few short sections of streetscape where enough record survives. The bigger problem will be to develop a contemporary architectural language that is sensitive to the challenge of this kind of location, given where we're starting from.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby CologneMike » Tue Jul 05, 2011 10:39 pm

Irish Wheelchair Association Building ~ Quinn Architects

Here is a contemporary development earmarked just off Nicholas Street.

Anybody with an up to date status?

IWA

This exciting mixed-use development for the Irish Wheelchair Association (IWA) is the culmination of a number of years work with the organisation for the design of a new centre for their services in Limerick City. The site in located opposite King John's Castle on the King's Island in the historic heart of Limerick.

The project consists of a Resource and Outreach Centre comprising retail, dining, recreational, therapy and administration facilities, 4 no. apartments, car parking at Barrack Street, Limerick.

The development has full Planning Permission.
Attachments
IWA_A.jpg
View from Nicholas Street / The Parade.
IWA_B.jpg
View from Barrack Street.
IWA_C.jpg
View from the Island Road.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby daire english » Sun Jul 10, 2011 3:48 pm

I was walking through Mary street the other day and couldn't believe just how shabby the street looked, I'm starting to wonder if it is the worthier street for funding because it's in a way worse state than Nicholas street!! It has soo much potential :(
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby zulutango » Wed Jul 13, 2011 12:24 am

CologneMike wrote:Irish Wheelchair Association Building ~ Quinn Architects

Here is a contemporary development earmarked just off Nicholas Street.

Anybody with an up to date status?


I've no idea. I really like the look of it though. The scale and orientation are just about right too. It would be great to see it happen.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby daire english » Wed Aug 24, 2011 8:19 pm

http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:The ... 530476.jpg.
This is the thosel in kilkenny and it is remarkably similar to the image of the exchange. I would imagine it would be quite possible to use the tholsel to reconstruct the once great limerick building, and i would think that the council would be more inclined to consider with an existing model to follow rather than old sketches, i really do hope something like this does happen and soon!
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby pigtown » Wed Aug 24, 2011 9:10 pm

Looks good but what about the graveyard behind the Exchange?
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby daire english » Thu Aug 25, 2011 5:13 pm

I presume with a bit of money the church could be persuaded to exhume some graves .However this is, i admit , unlikely.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby pateen » Tue Feb 21, 2012 1:22 pm

An Update in the Leader

Pedestrianisation to restore historic Limerick street to “former glory” Nicholas Street which is set for a major revamp in the coming months
By Anne Sheridan
Published on Tuesday 21 February 2012 08:30


ONE of the most historic areas of the city is in line for a long-awaited upgrade following the acquisition of derelict buildings and plans to pedestrianise the street.


Several derelict sites in Nicholas Street have been purchased by Limerick City Council, which it is hoped will improve this “blighted” area.

City Hall now has an opportunity to transform this area, said Sinn Fein councillor Maurice Quinlivan.

“The neglect of a number of properties along Nicholas Street over a long number of years has been shameful. Developers who bought these properties with the intention of making a fast buck have contributed to a run down and neglected feel to the street,” he said.

Mayor of Limerick, councillor Jim Long, said there are a number of short and long term plans for the area, including an archaeological study on old properties, and the replacement of all lamp posts.

He has mooted that an area of derelict sites could be changed into a carpark to be used by tourists to King John’s Castle.

There are also plans to pedestrianise part of the street during daytime hours, and replace the paving stones.

But Cllr Long said the full two-year programme hasn’t been sanctioned by the council yet.

Funds for the works are expected to come from Bord Failte, the regeneration budget and capital funding from the Department of the Environment, he said.

In the meantime, a number of minor projects in the Nicholas Street area have been announced for the area to be completed before the end of March.

Cllr Quinlivan, who has campaigned alongside residents and traders in recent years for the area to be improved, said he is pleased that the plans are “progressing well”.

The works will include tidying up derelict sites, painting the area, planting flowers and erecting hanging baskets and replacing some fencing.

“Whilst most of these works are minor and somewhat superficial it will give a boost to people in the area that at last some work is commencing and the street is being reclaimed,” said Cllr Quinlivan.
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Re: Nicholas Street

Postby gunter » Tue Feb 21, 2012 9:38 pm

This is good news pateen, although it does have to be acknowledged that hanging baskets would be at the lower end of the scale of urban renewal commitments, but still, I suppose, any step in the right direction is at least not another step in the wrong direction.

Speaking of which, if this mooted regeneration of Limerick's historic 'Main Street' is to go anywhere, yer man with the surface car park twinkling in his eye needs to be teleported forty years into the future . . . to 2012
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