Re: Re: Smithfield Wasteland
I would tend to side with johnglas’s argument that Smithfield is a work in progress, the only problem being that the ‘work’ halted some years ago and is unlikely to pick up again for the foreseeable future. The loss of the original fabric of this, one of the most ancient planned quarters of the city, is deeply regrettable (Franc Myles’ storytelling regarding the contents of its former inhabitants’ cesspits being particularly illuminating), but we must not let that drag down what we currently have (whatever that may be), while also allowing this history to inform the future use of the square.
Two issues stand out for me, other than the many mentioned above which I’d broadly concur with. Firstly, the new Markets, when/if/ever they open, will act as the critical link between the city core and Smithfield. Frankly, the long-term health of Smithfield is almost entirely dependent on this project; in the interim, I agree an open air market is the way to go to get bodies over there. An urban quarter, however attractive, cannot sustain itself in isolation from its regional setting within a city. If Smithfield presented the most beautiful and vibrant urban scene in Dublin, it would still require connectivity with the centre to achieve its maximum potential. The Markets is the critical link between Capel Street and Smithfield to revitalise the area, while also acting as a draw in itself with knock-on effects for Smithfield. (And agreed Stephen the results of the recent restoration of the main building are sadly fading already).
The other, related, problem as I see it is that Smithfield is completely disconnected from the south side of the Liffey – constituting at least a third of its catchment area. All focus is always placed on the east-west movement dilemma, but north-south connectivity from the commercial and residential zone of Dame Street, Christchurch, Cornmarket and the wider Liberties is an absolute disaster. I won’t go near Smithfield, in spite of it being a cobblestone’s throw across the water, because it is a nightmare to get to. The traffic management of the quays, coupled with the headwrecker that is the environs of the Four Courts, makes this a no-go area for southsiders. A number of the quay junctions don’t even have pedestrian crossings, never mind the chemical lung-filling, minute-plus waits at every set of lights one encounters. It couldn’t be made less attractive if it was tried. Even for myself, as an ardent battler against the tides of the ‘public’ realm in this city (and with plenty of visual stimulation en route), I just refuse to go over there from the south side. It’s just not worth the stress of it all. Thus, for most people I can only imagine that it’s northside access only, and Luas or nothing.