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Source: Sunday Times
Issue Date: Sunday December 30, 2001
Byline: John Burns

MOLLY MALONE must be spinning in her grave: her old stomping ground, Dublin’s fish market, is to be demolished.

In its place, Dublin corporation is planning to build a colonnaded square encompassing the nearby fruit-and-vegetable market, which is to be refurbished.

Designed by Donnelly Turpin and MBM, a Barcelona firm, the square will be pedestrianised and will cover an area the size of Mountjoy Square, also on the city’s northside.

The development, due to be unveiled in February, is a dramatic and ambitious scheme, on a par with the overhaul of Smithfield and Temple Bar.

Occupying a 6,000sqmetre site behind the Four Courts, the fruit-and-veg market is one of Dublin’s least known architectural treasures. It first opened for business in December 1892.

The adjacent fish market dates from five years later but is a much less important structure. Many fishmongers have already deserted it and much of the unlisted building is used as a car park.

The fate of the remaining fishmongers has yet to be decided. Several are refusing to leave their stalls and want compensation from the corporation, which is confident of reaching an agreement with them about alternative accommodation soon.

Fishmongering has declined since Molly Malone’s day, with a drop in the catch, co-operatives selling directly to shops and higher prices.

Tommy O’Callaghan, chairman of the Dublin Fish Market Wholesalers’ Association, says he hopes the new market will include the fish traders.

The traders, with Bord Iascaigh Mhara, the sea fisheries agency, had submitted a plan to the corporation that would include a fish market, restaurants, shops and an aquarium in the new development.

“Every capital city in the world has a fish market. The traders want to stay in this area. This market is very traditional and is a part of old Dublin,” said O’Callaghan.

The corporation, which owns the fish market, has refused to spend Pounds 1m refurbishing it and decided instead to demolish the now-dilapidated structure. Corporation chiefs argue that Luas, the light rail scheme, would also disrupt the operation of the market.

Jim Barrett, the city architect, said: “Most of the big operators are already moving out of the market anyway.

“It is a very important quarter and this is an attractive scheme. We want to keep a market here while getting rid of the huge articulated lorries that come into the area. Many residents have complained about refigerated lorries humming through the night.”

Many stalls, some of which have been run by families for up to five generations, will have to be abandoned to make room for the refurbishment.

Derek Leonard, whose great-grandmother was one of the first to set up a stall in 1892, said: “It’s the end of an era.”

Headline: A market square deal;Architecture
Source: Sunday Times
Issue Date: Sunday December 08, 2002
Byline: Shane O’Toole

Far from being the end of Molly Malone’s old stomping ground, Dublin council’s plans offer a new lease of life for the markets area, reclaiming it for the public, says Shane O’Toole

Some of Dublin city council’s critics claim that its new plan for the north inner-city markets area will finish off Molly Malone, the fishmonger, once and for all. But the council insists it’s in the business of resuscitation, “reclaiming a part of the city that’s been dead and unknown,” according to Jim Barrett, city architect.

True, the “markets area framework plan”, currently on public display, proposes the demolition of the dilapidated wholesale fish market, located between Capel Street and the Four Courts, to create a new market square – the one Dublin never had – but you’d have to be blinded by nostalgia or prejudice not to lick your lips at the stylish retail fish hall that will be the rejuvenated market’s shop window to the city.

It’s not as if the fishmongers haven’t moved before. An earlier fish market stood on the site of the elegant fruit and vegetable market, which replaced scattered street markets when it was executed in 1889-92 by the city engineer Spencer Harty to the 1884 designs of Paul Merrill.

The sale of fish, meat and vegetables has been carried on within this district since medieval times, when St Mary’s Abbey held fairs on the green, an area now occupied by Green Street courthouse. Later there were markets around Green Street and St Mary’s Lane.

Dublin is lucky to have retained its central food markets, in contrast to London and Paris, where the loss of the old Covent Garden and Les Halles are still lamented. These days, with the markets long in decline, the business is mostly wholesale. Surrounding buildings are used primarily as warehouses.

The supermarket chains have developed their own distribution systems and no longer depend on centralised markets. Urban congestion and the need for distribution centres with direct access to national routes will eventually drive the remainder of the distribution end of the business out of town.

If the area’s future could lie in the combination of local wholesale business with an all-day retail market, where the public could shop and eat, then a radical change of use that would weaken Dubliners’ sense of identity of their city might be avoided.

The issue has been forced by the imminent arrival of Luas, the light rail system through the heart of the markets area. A framework is needed to steer the inevitable planning applications for office developments to replace underused warehouses.

The council turned to David Mackay, one of the “three wise men” – the others are Sir Richard MacCormac andProfessor John Worthington – who since early last year have been advising the city manager on Dublin’s development explosion. The panel was inspired by the Barcelona authority, which operates a similar scheme.

Mackay has lived in Barcelona since 1958. Through the pioneering work of his firm, MBM, in the reconstruction of Barcelona’s public spaces in the late 1970s, he became a world leader in recovering the architect’s role in the design of cities.

Throughout the 1990s, Mackay had a profound influence on Dublin’s re-emergence as a European city of architectural note. He was a member of the competition juries for Temple Bar and Smithfield, the developments that placed contemporary Irish urban design on the international map.

The Dublin architecture firm Donnelly Turpin and Roger Zogolovitch of AZ Urban Studio, a London-based consultancy specialising in urban regeneration, have been working with MBM since April 2001 to develop the plan for the markets area. Mark Turpin says what impresses him most is Mackay’s insistence on a strategy that is flexible enough to absorb the life of the city.

“He says we must absolutely resist the temptation to descend into architecture,” says Turpin. Instead, what they have come up with a series of urban design principles, facade alignments and building heights. Only the appearance of the square is fixed.

The framework’s big move – the radical idea to carve out the market square Dublin never had – emerged at a meeting in Barcelona between Mackay, his partner Oriol Bohigas and their colleague, Francesc Gual. The image they had in mind was Cracow, Poland, where the arcaded cloth hall stands in the middle of the medieval market square.

At about 130 metres in each direction, the space will be divided in two by the free-standing fruit and vegetable market: to the west, on the site of the fish market, there will be a broad parade; to the east, where the arcaded side of the square deflects to follow the boundary of the old abbey, the form will be that of a tapering promenade. “We had the building, but not the square,” says Paraic Fallon, the city council’s senior planner. “Now we’ll have a new civic space, with the fruit and vegetable market as a focus.”

About 80% of the building will be given over to food retailing. Only its north and west facades are elaborately detailed in terracotta panels and cut stone. New market workshops will screen the blank east facade and a glassy fish market hall will advertise the markets to passers-by.

The fish hall will be serviced from below, and 500 parking spaces will be provided on two levels beneath the square. The six-storey buildings surrounding the square will supply the area’s defining landmark, but there will also be substantial four-storey developments to the north and east, with 550 new dwellings doubling the area’s population of 1,200.

Three-quarters of the land needed for the redevelopment is in private ownership. Planning permission has recently been granted to Begley Brothers, the fruit importers, to kick-start the plan by building the middle third of the east side of Market Square.

Barrett likens the framework to what he calls the “Merrion Square phenomenon”: development is unlikely to happen quickly, as opportunities will be parcelled out into four units here and six units there. “It will creep up on us,” he says. “We’ll end up with kinks and individuality, but within an overall order.

The Markets Area Draft Framework Plan is on display at the Community Resource Centre, North King Street, Monday-Friday 10am-4pm until December 23 markets/pics titles.htm

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