Re: Re: well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ?

Home Forums Ireland well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ? Re: Re: well what about the developments popping up in the shannonside ?


Opera Shopping Centre a watershed for Limericks Georgian Heritage?

The beginning of Ellen Street has a fine cluster of Georgian buildings facing each other. Now the “new” developers propose their demolishment on one side of the street, along with Quins cut-stone building. This would be a major loss, especially to the other side of the street. Both sides complement each other, as the street here has an authentic feel to it from another era. Fact is once they are gone, up to two hundred years of history goes with them!

Rutland Street and Patrick Street will have their Georgian facades maintained and their internal layout will be integrated into the Shopping Centre. That will probably mean that they will be gutted and rebuilt with concrete floors. I don’t know if access to these buildings from the street will be continued? The only building that will be fully restored to its original state is the Catherine Hayes Museum project.

Re-reading through an excerpt from the book on “Georgian Limerick“ I posted some while back, it is interesting to read that as a generalisation, most Georgian terrace houses were built by “speculative developers” whose main interest was to make a handsome profit. No different in nature to the developers behind the Opera Shopping Centre today. Would “Georgian Limerick” ever have come into existence without the driving force of those “speculative developers” in the first place?

It is also worth reading that Limerick’s Georgian heritage consists mainly of terraced houses built for “domestic use” and that these Georgian terraced houses are the 18th century equivalent of modern suburban housing estates. It would be safe to say that 99.9 % of the Georgian buildings today are no longer for domestic use (i.e. family with servants) but are now commercial buildings. Could it be that their original purpose for “domestic use” is now an Achilles heel to its future. What I am saying here is can these buildings in their original internal design, meet today’s commercial requirements?

A rough breakdown of their commercial use today would be

  • Retail (e.g. Patrick Street / Lwr. O’Connell / William Street axis)
  • Offices (e.g. Upper O’Connell Street, Cecil and Glenthworth Streets)
  • Flats (e.g. Mallow Street, Catherine Street, Barrington Street)
  • Cultural / Recreational (e.g. Museum, Galleries, Pubs, Restaurants)

I personally can’t see theses building being used in their original form without some major internal reconstruction in design and materials used. Why?

Take for example, the original wooden stairways and the wooden floors. They must be a fire safety concern especially were the use of building are for flats. Some of the corner buildings have little or no rear access to them. Probably would mean that there are no fire-escapes, unless of course they fix one onto the front façade of the building. Is this acceptable?

Many of the Georgian buildings in the retail zone of the city are now nothing more than facades.

A retail example here would be O’Mahony’s Bookshop on O’Connell Street. In 1902 their floor space on the ground floor would have probably catered for its needs back then and I assume the original building needed very little alteration (Shop front). Today they retail books on three floors extending all the way back to the rear lane. I sure they gutted the basement, the ground and first floor with concrete. There is nothing to denote from the inside that one is now in a Georgian building except that of the first floor windows to the front. Fact is that the original building would have never coped with today’s footfall without modernizing it. Had the bookshop here alternative options? This pattern repeats itself more or less with similar buildings in the retail zone.

I personally see an acute demolishment threat to Lower Mallow Street due to their present poor condition and William Street (corner of little Catherine Street to Wickham Street) could suffer the same fate as Ellen Street if these buildings are not modernized / restored in the very near future.

That the city council has now defined Limerick city centre into different zones like Georgian, Riverfront, Retail etc, etc. Does that mean that Georgian buildings outside the declared Georgian zone are less important than those within?

To summarize, I personally think it is easy to maintain the original facades (Doorway, windows, railings, brickwork etc) of our Georgian buildings but their internal restoration might well have to give way to modernization. I think the O’Mahony’s bookshop model would be the best way forward for Patrick / Rutland Street with access from both street and shopping centre. Are there better options?

Any thoughts?

Here an old planning map of Patrick Street.

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