North Georgian Dublin

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    • #710433

      Given the state of the North Georgian core of the city and the fact that owners are allowed to let fine buildings fall into disrepair something needs to be done in order to force the owners hand.

      Perhaps Kerry County Councils plan to introduce an annual levy of 3 per cent of the market value of the property if the property is not properly maintained would be a first step in reinvorgorating the area.

      Owners of derelict homes face 3% levy


      KERRY COUNTY council is to use its powers under the derelict sites Act to ensure that houses bought during the Celtic Tiger era which are now lying empty do not fall into disrepair.

      A levy of 3 per cent of the market value of the house can be imposed annually if the houses are not properly maintained, according to a council report.

      However the many unfinished houses and abandoned construction sites, some in major tourist spots, will be more difficult to deal with, officials have admitted. Hundreds of houses lie empty in Co Kerry and there are many estates where houses were bought, sometimes in multiples, for rental investment and these were now being vacated, councillors have reported.

      South Kerry Independent Alliance councillor Michael Gleeson formally requested the council “to compel house and building owners to maintain the exterior of their premises”. Entire estates were in danger of looking unkempt, with houses unpainted and grass not cut, and permanent residents were greatly upset by this, he said. “The number of unoccupied houses in our towns and villages is going to increase dramatically. It is vital that we maintain these houses in the interests of people nearby,” Cllr Gleeson said.

      The council’s director of housing services, John Breen, has told the councillor the Derelict Sites Act, 1990 empowered local authorities to deal with run-down properties, and was not confined to older properties.

      “In accordance with the Act, if a property detracts to a material degree from the neighbouring properties it may be considered derelict.” If the property was placed on the derelict sites register and was in a town or village, a levy of 3 per cent of the market value per annum can be imposed on the owners.

      Councils could also purchase the site, under compulsory purchase order, but this was a costly option, Mr Breen said.

      There was generally a high level of co-operation from property owners, he said, although there had been an increase on the number of sites on the derelict sites register last year.

      This article appears in the print edition of the Irish Times

    • #806423

      It’s amazing that through the boom very little was done to this area. There should be some serious incentives offered and some radical ideas thrown about. It is a disgrace that all those buildings are allowed to waste away.

      Perhaps DCC should commit to taking on large portions and converting them to social housing rather than building any new housing.

    • #806424

      @Service charge wrote:

      It’s amazing that through the boom very little was done to this area. There should be some serious incentives offered and some radical ideas thrown about. It is a disgrace that all those buildings are allowed to waste away.

      Perhaps DCC should commit to taking on large portions and converting them to social housing rather than building any new housing.

      Given the collpase of the PPP projects maybe this could work?

    • #806425

      Interesting comment article on this kind of thing in the Observer. Talking about Liverpool but similar to what I am saying above:

      To say that visiting Turin is like going back to 1910 is to appreciate that the city has not lost its strength of aesthetic identity to postmodern mediocrity. Venerable buildings retain their usage, renovated when necessary, so that the centre is robustly fin-de-siècle and the peeling but lovely arcades and apartments around Piazza dell’Indipendenza are being restored for affordable housing. The Verdi music conservatory looks like the day it opened in 1866.

    • #806426

      @aj wrote:

      Given the state of the North Georgian core of the city and the fact that owners are allowed to let fine buildings fall into disrepair something needs to be done in order to force the owners hand.

      I would agree with that, but I think we need to look beyond the core as well.

      With the floated UNESCO World Heritage designation for the ‘Georgian Core’, I get the feeling that there is a subconscious movement afoot to ring-fence Dublin’s Georgian heritage to just the areas in the immediate vicinity of the four squares, possibly to the detriment of conserving 18th century structures outside these protected zones.

      Part of the remarkable story of 18th century Dublin was the sheer scale of the city and with the effective loss of the Quays as a representative of the breadth of the Georgian city, together with streets like Blackhall Street and Rutland Street, this part of the story has been considerably eroded.

      A case in point would be these houses at 141 – 144 Abbey Street.

      I’d like to claim these as ‘Billys’, but for the purposes of this discussion we’ll just call them Georgian.

      All are in perilous condition, none are protected structures, yet they are surviving structures from within the ‘core’ of the 18th century city, if now some distance from what would be regarded as ‘the Georgian core’.

      The corner buildings have lost their top storey and are held together by steel ties, but, as corner buildings with frontage to both Upper abbey Street and Wolf Tone Street (Stafford St.), they could be particularly interesting inside and very worthy of restoration. Both no. 143 and no. 144 (Ed’s Barbers) have corner fireplaces and look like former Billys, or at least early transitional Georgian houses, and no. 143 (even though the facade must have been rebuilt in the 19th century) has a Billy style full height return.

      I’m not sure if the boundaries of the Capel Street ACA will include these houses.

    • #806427

      So much for talk of winning the war for Georgian Dublin.

      the group at 141-144 Abbey St.. . . . . . rear of no. 142 with it’s Dorset St. type rear chimney . . . . . . rear of no. 143 with it’s ‘Billy’ type return

      The three 18th century houses we discussed last year at the corner of Abbey Street and Wolfe Tone Street were cleared away in the last few weeks.

      Yes they were in poor condition and two had lost their top storey, but they would still have merited closer study and, if restored, they would have contributed significantly to validating the Jervis Street area as a once important district in the 18th century development of Dublin

      the same corner today with only no. 144 left standing

    • #806428

      Well at least there is consistency in what is happening – even if it is completely contrary to what is officially uttered. I quote a thread I started in 2007:

      @hutton wrote:

      Dublin: Corner of Bridgefoot St and Ushers Island; 4 floor Georgian left derelict with billboards on the facade. There last week and for 200 years previously – now a derelict site. Needless to say a Conservation Area, although the building itself was not specifically listed on the RPS. Will there be action by DCC – what odds?

      Taken from the thread “Theyre at it again – A Georgian goes on the quays / Endangered Georgian Dublin” –

      Images of what was cleared, a perfectly good building blighted by unauthorised billboards:

      @Sloan wrote:

      There is more information on the planning application for Nos. 1 and 2 Usher’s Island (now demolished) on this thread starting on 11 Nov 2005 Post No. 11

      Needless to say the intended replacement scheme was never built – and a derelict site now sits at a key corner on the quays…

      Apart from the above, and the recent un-development on Abbey Street, I also noticed that another corner house formerly at North Circular Road / Russell Street was demolished one weekend in January 2008, apparently on the grounds of safety.

      And of course then there was row about 12 Dorset Street back in 2007 / 8 where DCC, fully in the belief that the house was the birthplace of the playwright Richard Brinsley Sheridan, waved on an application that sought to demolish that listed Georgian house. Fortunately An Bord P shot down DCC’s consent, and subsequently the developer made a new application to reinstate that building – despite it emerging that it actually didn’t have the connection with Brinsley Sheridan!

      Meanwhile late last year, the last remaining building that stood on Hammond Lane at the side of the former match factory site, off Church Street, was also demolished. Georgian in appearance, I am sure its removal eliminates a last nuisance that was in the way of redevelopment – yet as that massive site has remained completely cleared and vacant for 15 years, how likely is it that it will be redeveloped any time soon, particularly now given the lack of demand?

      So is there a trend here, and if so, where’s next?

    • #806429

      Jez, some of those pics remind me of going into town as a kid…late 1980s! I noticed the townhouses beside AXA were gone when I was using the LUAS last Saturday. After they suffered the contagious disease of “falling masonry” which seems to infect alot of inconvenient buildings in Dublin, it was inevitable that they were going to be demolished.

      Gunther, looks like you went to extraordinary lengths and heights to get some of those pics!


    • #806430

      Phoenix magazine also had an interesting if critical article regarding North Georgian Dublin earlier this year. Apparently DCC’s draft development plan schedules areas as Georgian where little is left – while excluding the areas that are largely intact…

      From Phoenix magazine, January 2010:


      ENVIRONMENT Minister John Gormley’s proposal that Georgian Dublin be designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site is blowing back in his face.

      Last November in Leinster House, Gormley proposed Georgian Dublin and its literary associations as a prestigious UNESCO site. Naturally, predictable polite twaddle was expressed in support of this seemingly safe and non-controversial notion.

      Regrettably Gormley’s speech was a little unreal, where he singled out and commended Dublin City Council for advancing the renewal of “Dublin’s Georgian Squares, particularly Mountjoy Square and Parnell Square”.

      Fact is, although Mountjoy Square park was due for renewal since 2001 under the Dorset Street area plan, this never happened – and instead the council has allowed coach companies and CIE to grab swathes of the square for an ad-hoc on-street bus depot. Even more bizarre is that when former taoiseach and local TD, Bertie Ahern, was leaving office 18 months ago, he made a special grant available for the badly needed restoration of Mountjoy Square’s park. Yet when locals subsequently met with the council, they were informed the cash had been clawed back – by Gormley’s very own Department of Environment.

      Matching this has been the stalling of Parnell Square, which was supposed to be restored under the 1998 O’Connell Street Integrated Area Plan. But here again, effectively no progress has been made – with airport metro having provided a handy reason not to proceed until (or if) that’s ever built.

      And then there’s the new City Development Plan, which in an exercise that would leave Orwell blushing, proposes to schedule as the “North Georgian City Core”, Summerhill, Gardiner, and Seán McDermott Streets – precisely the streets Dublin Corporation was responsible for demolishing for road-widening etc. in the 60’s and 70’s. Excluded from the “North Georgian City Core” are Mountjoy and Parnell Squares, Henrietta, Dominick, North Great Georges, Eccles Streets and others – precisely the areas where Georgian streetscapes survive!

      An Taisce has put in their helpful submission regarding UNESCO accusing the council of having “systemically disregarded the existing national guidelines on protected structures and architectural conservation areas “, and having a “complete absence of controls for management of the public realm of Georgian Dublin”, before advising that “Dublin City Council should be requested to address these issues prior to any consideration for addition of Georgian Dublin to the UNESCO list.”

    • #806431

      However there is also little bit of a glimmer of good news; it appears that DCC have received a number of submissions from prominent people calling on Mountjoy Square to be an ACA. Given the draft plan is still in gestation, it would appear DCC have the opportunity to do the right thing…

      From The Sunday Times May 23, 2010:

      Mountjoy ‘deserves a square deal’

      Famous admirers of a historic part of Dublin say it must be protected

      Colin Coyle

      It is the forgotten Georgian Square of Dublin, overshadowed by its more fashionable counterparts on the southside of the city. But a group of well-known admirers is lobbying for Mountjoy Square on Dublin’s northside to be preserved.

      JP Donleavy, the author, Shane MacGowan, the Pogues frontman, and Tim Pat Coogan, the historian, have a sent submissions to Dublin City Council requesting that the square be designated an architectural conservation area (ACA) — a specially protected district — in the council’s development plan for 2011 to 2017.

      The square’s custodians are concerned that the council has not proposed to turn it into an ACA in its draft plan, as it has done with a number of historic squares on the south side of the city. In ACAs, building owners are restricted from altering their homes without planning permission and can be required to restore original features.

      Ruadhán MacEoin, of the Mountjoy Square Society, said: “As recently as the 1980s the square was used by film crews recreating London in the Blitz because of the number of tumble-down buildings. There is a real danger, facing into another recession, that parts of the square could again fall into disrepair or be exploited by unscrupulous property developers.”

      The society is concerned that the “uniformity” of the square is at risk because about one- third of its houses were demolished in the 1980s and replaced with replicas that are not on the list of protected structures.

      MacGowan, in his letter to the council, warns that the area is likely to come under pressure over the next decade. “As approximately one-third of the buildings overlooking the square are not original, I understand there is little to protect the unity of appearance on the streetscape,” he wrote.

      Donleavy argues that its literary history warrants its protection, claiming that the square’s rich heritage has been an inspiration to him. In his letter he notes that James Joyce refers to the square in several of his books, while Sean O’Casey, the playwright, set his Dublin trilogy in a tenement home on the square. Ernest Gebler, the novelist, also lived on the square, while Brendan Behan was a frequent visitor.

      MacGowan also namechecks John O’Leary, a Fenian who lived at number 53 and was immortalised in a poem by WB Yeats. “Number 3 is also understood to have been used by the first Dail,” MacGowan wrote.

      Coogan has also added his voice to the campaign, arguing that the economic “crisis” has been caused by the “ravages of developers”. “Our emphasis now should be on preserving our heritage, not destroying it,” he said.

      The council has already granted ACA protection to Dartmouth Square on the southside and is planning to grant ACA status to Fitzwilliam Square in the coming months. However, Mountjoy Square’s supporters argue that it is more in need of protection than these squares. Other areas that have already been designated ACAs include parts of the south inner city, Grafton Street, the village of Chapelizod and parts of the northside, including Prospect Square and the area surrounding the Casino at Marino, a neo-classical building dating from the 18th century.

      Built during the late 18th and early 19th century, Mountjoy Square is one of five Georgian squares in Dublin. Set on an elevated four-acre plot, it was described by John Heagney, the former Dublin architect, in his book The Georgian Squares of Dublin as the city’s “finest” square. Although it quickly became Dublin’s most fashionable address, it slipped in social status during the late 19th century and was transformed into tenements.

      Some of the original houses were demolished during the 1980s, despite the efforts of conservationists such as Desmond Guinness, the founder of the Irish Georgian Society.

      Guinness has also written to the council in support of ACA designation for Mountjoy Square, describing it as one of Ireland’s finest examples of 18th-century urban planning and noting that Arthur Guinness was also a former resident.

      MacEoin said that preserving the square is crucial if Dublin hopes to continue attracting tourists. “A large proportion of tourists cite Georgian Dublin as their pre-eminent reason for visiting the city,” he said.

    • #806432

      Of course this is only of benefit if the ACA is actually enforced!

      Back to the Abbey Street buildings, its worth pointing out that all the works to demolish were don in the absence of a planning permission. The last permission was deemed withdrawn after the applicant failed to respond to an FI request within the 6 month period.

    • #806433

      @StephenC wrote:

      Back to the Abbey Street buildings, its worth pointing out that all the works to demolish were don in the absence of a planning permission. The last permission was deemed withdrawn after the applicant failed to respond to an FI request within the 6 month period.

      Hmmm – that’s very interesting; might the owner have got DCC’s Dangerous Buildings section to move on it – and if so would that have required PP under the Act? Personally I doubt it as it as it would have been a health and safety “emergency”.

      @gunter wrote:

      The photo above was of course been the best bit of what appears a farce – a sign left for months that advised people to “please cross to the other side of the road” as it was a “Dangerous Building”…

      If DCC’s Dangerous Buildings did acquiesce to the demolition of the above structures, it would be interesting to see their technical reports outlining the need, and also what if any alternatives were suggested by DCC as possible options that might have ensured the survival of said structures.

      The plot thickens – what has DCC’s role been?

    • #806434

      i give up 🙁

    • #806435

      Moi aussi

    • #806436

      I have a pic of the abbey street site just after it was demolished 3 months ago. I cant upload it though. Is it because Im a noob? It is a jpeg less than 700pix wide and less than 293.4kb so should fit within the restrictions (?)

    • #806437

      I think they have given up on the city centre ..lets just leave it to the junkies they seem to have taken over large areas unopposed by anyone in authority.

    • #806438

      That announcement that Dublin was getting a UNESCO ‘City of Literature’ badge, was that on foot of Gormley’s application for World Heritage Site status for Dublin on the basis of our Georgian architecture and our literary heritage. i.e. that we were turned down on the architectural heritage grounds, or was it just a coincidence that the city of literature thing came through now? . . . and how the hell did Edinburgh get a ‘City of Literature’ badge ahead of us? Harry Potter isn’t even set in Edinburgh.

      I see someone’s been doing their best to return Henrietta Street to something like Luke Gardiner’s original morbid vision:

      A meticulous re-pointing job on no. 13 [the decision to highlight – London-style – the replacement 19th century orange brick window arches slightly reduces the severity] re-captures the blocky brooding menace 1740s Georgian.

      I note however that the little bit of cheer provided by the original central rain water pipe [seen here still in place on no. 14] has been banished from the re-pointed facade.

    • #806439

      @gunter wrote:

      . . . and how the hell did Edinburgh get a ‘City of Literature’ badge ahead of us? Harry Potter isn’t even set in Edinburgh.

      I can imagine the opprobrium if somebody made a stupid comment like this about Dublin literature. Among others, Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Muriel Spark, and Irvine Welsh are from Edinburgh. Numerous novels are also set in Edinburgh, including Trainspotting and some novels by Scott. Edinburgh has the world’s largest book festival, which was going on for years before Dublin’s. The main train station in Edinburgh is named after a Walter Scott novel, and there’s a huge monument to Scott on Prince’s Street, much bigger than any monument to a writer in Dublin.

    • #806440

      @rumpelstiltskin wrote:

      I can imagine the opprobrium if somebody made a stupid comment like this about Dublin literature. Among others, Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Muriel Spark, and Irvine Welsh are from Edinburgh. Numerous novels are also set in Edinburgh, including Trainspotting and some novels by Scott. Edinburgh has the world’s largest book festival, which was going on for years before Dublin’s. The main train station in Edinburgh is named after a Walter Scott novel, and there’s a huge monument to Scott on Prince’s Street, much bigger than any monument to a writer in Dublin.

      It’s not a wholly ignorant comment. Those writers you mention, whilst great, are not of the intellectual or artistic calibre of Joyce, Beckett, Shaw, Swift, Wilde etc…

      In any case, as Melbourne and Iowa have also been recipients of this accolade, I wouldn’t put a great deal of stock in it. 😉

    • #806441

      OK, we’re going off on a tangent here and I recognise that archiseek can be a barren place for humour, but Iowa, ‘Unesco City of Literature’, because – wait for it – ‘for eighty years, we’ve been teaching the world to write’.
      . . . . . jesus christ.

      I note also, from the Iowa City – Unessco City of Literature – web site; ‘Iowa City is often known as the Athens of the mid-west, which I hadn’t realized and which probably makes Des Moines the Sparta of the prairies, must check that out. In fairness to Unesco, this dovetails neatly with that other ‘Unesco City of Literature’, Edinburgh, long known as the Athens of the North, however it raises the question; what happened to the Athens of the feckin Aegean? didn’t they have some bearded lads who could write? . . . . even more than eighty years ago :rolleyes:

    • #806442

      @kinsella wrote:

      It’s not a wholly ignorant comment. Those writers you mention, whilst great, are not of the intellectual or artistic calibre of Joyce, Beckett, Shaw, Swift, Wilde etc…

      In any case, as Melbourne and Iowa have also been recipients of this accolade, I wouldn’t put a great deal of stock in it. 😉

      Well if the criterion was the number of great writers born in the city, and how great they are, then I think Dublin would be near the top of the list, probably behind London and Paris and other world cities. However, of all the writers you named, only Swift actually lived in Dublin during most of his creative life or made a continuing contribution to the intellectual life there.

      Iowa and Melbourne are apparently regional hubs for spreading literature and the virtues of creative writing to the masses, which seems to be an important criterion for city of literature status. Dublin, quite simply, is not, whereas Edinburgh is. I don’t see any huge attempt to teach Dublin or Irish schoolchildren creative writing skills, or indeed a huge budgetary commitment to the development of contemporary literature. Dublin likes to focus on dead white males for tourism purposes, rather than being a particularly vibrant source of modern literature. So maybe Dublin should focus on that if it wants to be the world’s greatest literary city.

      Oh, and maybe also not greenlighting the demolition of homes believed to be the birthplaces of major writers in the English language would also be helpful.

    • #806443

      @rumpelstiltskin wrote:

      I can imagine the opprobrium if somebody made a stupid comment like this about Dublin literature. Among others, Walter Scott, Arthur Conan Doyle, Robert Louis Stevenson, Muriel Spark, and Irvine Welsh are from Edinburgh. Numerous novels are also set in Edinburgh, including Trainspotting and some novels by Scott.

      Not to mention James Hogg, long resident in Edinburgh and famous for “The Private Memoirs and Confessions of a Justified Sinner”

    • #806444

      Hiivaladan: good on you; quite simply the best ‘Scottish’ book ever. Read it and be afraid; be very afraid!

      PS Another very great ‘Scottish’ book is ‘The House with the Green Shutters’ by George Douglas; by God, we can be grim Up North.

    • #806445

      I never thought I live to see Sinn Fein attempt to do their bit for Georgian Dublin:

      . . . but in their timber window reinstatement at 44 Parnell Square, where did they get the idea that the first floor windows were tripartite?

      A small number of three-bay Georgian houses incorporated the Kevin-Barry-Hall feature of a pair of larger windows at first floor level, [one on Merrion Sq. North, and another on Merrion Street] which I think has to be interpreted as a throwback to the popularity of this arrangement in the preceding ‘Billy’ phase, but surely it’s inconceivable, from a glazing proportion point of view, that any were tripartite. How are these decisions arived at? or do people just make it up as they go along.

    • #806446

      The latter, alas. These went in around this time last year. Haven’t had a chance to send it to DCC Enforcement, along with an ever-growing list of appalling window jobs on the north side of the city of late. These dodgy repro sash merchants are wrecking the north inner city with appallingly detailed windows, spoiling the prime opportunity we have to reinstate correct windows now that first generation replacements are ending their lifespan. In the case above, they have frilly horns and plastic grids between the panes. Goodness knows what’s happened inside… In fact, this hapless Parnell Square terrace – probably the longest mid-18th century terrace in Dublin – must surely rank as the most fecked over in the city in terms of well-intentioned but misguided alterations and interventions. Such a shame to see money so poorly spent, when a little guidance would have made all the difference.

      The tripartites are completely makey-uppy, with 1970s aluminium frames here before this. Agreed on the interesting two-bay arrangement. The tiny upper floor windows are a further hangover from earlier house styles.

    • #806447

      From today’s Irish Times:

      Mountjoy’s fate central to city’s heritage

      Can Mountjoy Square be turned into the jewel of Dublin’s inner northside that it should be?

      NOWHERE IS the casual neglect of Dublin’s northside more evident than at Mountjoy Square. With its perfect proportions, it should be one of the jewels of the northside. Instead, the central space is a mess, occupied by (among other things), a parks depot from which the Liffey Boardwalk is serviced.

      The depot’s walls are scarred by graffiti, the park railings haven’t been painted for decades and one side of the square is used as a coach park – with official approval. It is impossible to imagine Merrion Square or Fitzwilliam Square being treated in such cavalier fashion. It’s obvious why – they’re on the southside.

      But neither of the two southside squares is much inhabited – unlike, say, the squares of Edinburgh’s Georgian New Town. Mountjoy is, however. According to lobby group the Mountjoy Square Society, there are at least 1,000 people living on the square, in original houses or purpose-built flats.

      History has not been kind to Mountjoy Square. Like the rest of Dublin’s northside Georgian core, it fell into decline after the Duke of Leinster built a new townhouse in Kildare Street, with its garden front facing what would become Merrion Square. The northside eventually became a set of tenements, suitable for Seán O’Casey’s trilogy.

      The Shadow of a Gunman is unsurprisingly set on the square, as O’Casey once lived there. Arthur Guinness died in a house on the square in 1803, according to the Mountjoy Square Society. “Perhaps most notably, Mountjoy Square hosted meetings of the First and Second Dáil in 1919-1921,” it notes proudly.

      “Mountjoy Square has an extraordinary history and, when it was built, was considered to be one of the finest residential squares in Europe,” says its secretary, Karin O’Flanagan, a resident since 1978. Dublin City Council needs “to create a space both for visitors and the local community which will breathe new life and pride into the square”.

      By the early 1980s, when I first wrote about Mountjoy Square, only 43 of 67 houses built two centuries earlier had survived, despite the valiant efforts of Mariga Guinness, Uinseann MacEoin and others. No 50, the house Mariga bought to preserve, was later pulled down.

      Since then, with the aid of urban renewal tax incentives, at least a semblance of the missing houses has been recreated. However, the new Georgian facades are not very convincing, and behind them lie shoebox flats with tall rooms that are evocative of Victorian prison cells, produced by Zoe Developments.

      Nonetheless, anyone passing through Mountjoy Square now would at least get the impression that it’s intact. Previously, chunks of the south and west sides lay in ruins. The late Prof FX Martin used to avoid the square when bringing visitors into the city from Dublin airport; he didn’t want them to think it had been bombed. Now, it’s up for designation as an architectural conservation area (ACA). This would be “hugely valuable ”, says Garrett Fennell, the society’s chairman. Dublin City Council, he says, are key stakeholders, “given that they own and (mis)manage the park in the centre of the square. They also control the traffic/parking regime and deal with planning, and in particular enforcement and housing standards issues.

      “They are utterly frustrating our efforts to take tangible steps in other areas of improving the square. In a mixture of indifference and inertia, they tolerate the use of the square as a commuter coach park. We were told recently that they have no plans to move the coaches from the square, despite earlier indications that they would be moved.”

      It was a joke to think Dublin was being considered as a World Heritage Site for its Georgian core “when the city council allows one of its premier Georgian squares – and its only real residential Georgian square – to be used as a coach park”.

      Fennell, a son of late Fine Gael TD Nuala Fennell, says if the council doesn’t start taking its responsibilities for the northside Georgian core seriously, the society will call on Unesco to “disallow the bid” for World Heritage Site designation. “It is a complete joke to think that Dublin is being pushed for [this status] while the city council itself is guilty of wanton neglect of that Georgian heritage.”

      The society has said that, unless the council commits itself to improvements, it should cede control of the park to the Office of Public Works, which maintains St Stephen’s Green to a very high standard.

      At a meeting with society members last February with 13 council officials, chief planning officer Dick Gleeson said that, despite much investment in the inner city during the boom years, “the north Georgian core had been obdurate in its resistance to a strategic uplift”, according to the minutes.

      Heritage officer Charles Duggan saw ACA designation as potentially “an important step in Georgian parts of Dublin achieving World Heritage Site status”, while Charlie Lowe of the Parks Department agreed the location of its depot in the square was “not optimal” – although it would be “difficult to relocate”.

      As for removing the coach park, the society was later informed by Tim O’Sullivan, executive manager of the roads and traffic department, that this had been rejected by members of the north inner city area committee in March on the basis that there should be “an examination of options on a citywide basis” for storing private coaches.

      The National Transportation Authority had “indicated a willingness to consider funding coach parking facilities”, and there would be a “policy review”. When this was done, “we will be developing specific proposals for new coach parking facilities, which should allow for the removal or reduction of coach parking in the more sensitive areas of Dublin”.

      There is some hope. Under Gleeson, an inter-departmental group has been set up to tackle the challenge of “repositioning the north Georgian core . . . in the life of the inner city”. And this is to involve a “strategic top-down and an inventive bottom-up approach”, with an input from residents.

      The “down-at-heel” north Georgian core, so much at odds with Dublin’s aspirations to be a “creative, smart knowledge city”, may finally be rescued. But the challenge “is so great that it will require many layers of intervention, requiring the creative collaboration of all stakeholders, city council departments and relevant city institutions”.

    • #806448

      Dublin City Council recent made moves to designate Mountjoy Square as an ACA. The public consultation period on the Draft Plan closed on 21st March (sorry meant to flag this beforehand but the variation process slipped up on many people somewhat). You can view the Draft ACA report here
      A few issues arise in my mind (shared by the local residents group and Dublin Civic Trust). Cheif among these is the very limited boundary of the proposed ACA, which cuts through many of the important and intact surrounding streets (Upper Gardiner, Belvedere Place, Gardiner Place) depriving them of ACA protection. Further info on the ACA can be found at

      Came across this report of the City Architects Blog…worth a look. Great work from two talented architecture grads working with DCC last year.

      In fairness to the City Architects Division, they take a more upbeat view of the area’s future then their (ever cautious) colleagues in Planning.

    • #806449

      Local Mountjoy Square Society may be of interest to those concerned at how the area develops

    • #806450

      It may have been missed, given the absence of announcement from the City Council, but Mountjoy Square and its (very immediate) environs were declared an Architectural Conservation Area by variation of the City Development Plan on 14th May 2012. The final ACA document can be read here:

      Despite a number of good quality submissions (all generally ignored by the Council), and many of which raised the issue of very limited boundary area of the ACA, the all important red line was not amended and the ACA boundary incpororates only the houses onto the square and their gardens/lands to the rear, effectively sundering important and largely intact streets, such as Belevedre Place and Gardiner Place, in two.

      Whether the designation means anything in our debased city is another point. Similar designations on O’Connell Street, Grafton Street, Thomas Street and Environs and Capel Street have failed miserably to effect any meaningful improvement in standards in these areas.

    • #806451

      The recent programme for Dublin Garden Squares Day, organised by Dublin Civic Trust, afforded a wonderful opportunity to explore the many delights of the city’s north Georgian squares and their connecting streets. The phrase “hidden gems” has become rather hackneyed of late…our city seems to be full of under-discovered and under-appreciated delights, many of them falling into rack and ruin! However, on Parnell and Mountjoy Squares many of the delights of Dublin are plain for all to see; wonderful evocative Georgian streetscapes, stately public buildings and a surprising wealth of cultural attractions.

      The highlights of the north city events for me were surely the stunning Rococo chapel of the Rotunda Hospital; that former epicentre of skullduggery, the chamber of the now defunct Dublin County Council at No. 11 Parnell Square; and the beautifully restored apartments of No. 46 Mountjoy Square (and I think everyone on that tour felt very privileged to see inside such beautifully restored homes).

      However, anyone walking and exploring the area with the eye of a visitor on Saturday could not but despair at the poor condition of so many of the area’s historic buildings and the general lack of care and vision for the public realm. The north Georgian city needs an action plan, built around a clear vision of the area as an historic jewel in the city centre.

      The palpable potential of the buildings on Palace Row to develop as Dublin’s equivalent of the V&A was alluded to by the architect James Kelly on his tour. That most of the north side of Parnell Square is in State ownership makes this vision all the more achievable.

      Meanwhile, the sterling work of the Mountjoy Square Society must be commended as they seek to rejuvenate and restore what is arguably the greatest of the city’s 18th century squares. The image of “conservation pioneers”, raised in the recent BBC series ‘The Secret History of Streets’ has great resonance here in Dublin. The north Georgian city needs pioneers as much as it needs the active engagement of Dublin City Council and other agencies.

    • #806452

      I know its been posted so many times here before, but as ever the condition of some parts of the city centre never fails to shock me. The one surprise I found from recent walkabout of the north city area was the number of tourists about. Wandering from square to square looking for something to do…

      This trompe d’oeil caught my eye:

      The quality of the stone is beautiful of course

      The water mechanism is long gone

    • #806453

      The famous Parnell Square Framework Plan has long since gone, and with it any chance of a co-ordinated vision for this wonderful square. The Council are currently repaving the east side from the Gate Theatre up to the entrance to the Garden of Remembrance.

      Its been nicely laid, but its hardly the high quality granite envisaged under the Framework Plan. The idea then was to continue the paving materials used on O’Connell Street.

      The crappy streetlighting on this side of the square could surely be replaced. Its embarrassing.

      This one on the far side.

    • #806454

      The north side opposite the Hugh Lane Gallery.

      And the west side

    • #806455

      Poor North Frederick Street. Despite its grand, and somewhat unfashionable name, the street has to be one of the most unfortunate of the great boulevards of the Gardiner estate. Yet, the street is the first impression most visitors get as they arrive in Dublin city centre.

      After a journey along Dorset Street, the Aircoach/Airbus turns onto North Frederick Street and the approach to O’Connell Street.

      An over-engineered entrance into the street announcing the 30km limit. The street is impressively wide and broader pavements and trees would greatly improve this approach.

    • #806456

      Many of the original buildings have been butchered over the past. I cant imagine the last time a city planner was up here.

      Posted this one before

    • #806457

    • #806458

    • #806459

      Is there a plan for this area now that it is being developed as a cultural quarter ?

    • #806460

      Well the plan is the cultural quarter plan, at least for Parnell Square. What will hopefully happen is that the Library investment and renewal of the public realm around the Square will stimulate new uses and building improvements at least within this defined area.

      There is also a proposal being finalised to designate Parnell Square an ACA linking to the ACA aroun Mountjoy Square. There are plans to refurbish the garden at the centre of Mountjoy Square under the Public Realm Strategy.

      However, bigger thinking? big scale investment? active planning controls? I think these all remain to be pushed for.

    • #806461

      I hope they push for a bigger scale. It looks like they were just settling on doing the pavements and uninspiring paving at that.

      I was reading an article in the Irish times about street clutter and the new guidelines. Hopefully they do something inspiring with it.

    • #806462

      Its the perfect time to discuss how we revitalise and reuse our Georgian city areas.

      Maximising the city’s Georgian heritage – Friday 13th September 2013

      Dublin Civic Trust is delighted to announce a major one-day conference assessing the role and significance, past, present and future, of the historic squares of Dublin.
      Placing a special emphasis on the north Georgian area of the city in collaboration with The Mountjoy Square Society, this major one-day symposium will be hosted in the magnificent environment of the former ballroom of the Assembly Rooms of the Rotunda Hospital on Parnell Square, once the focus of social life in eighteenth-century Dublin.”

      More details:

    • #806463

      Dublin Civic Trust in today’s Irish Times:

      Dublin’s five Georgian squares could be rejuvenated Squares could be ‘cultural and social hubs’, says civic trust

      Dublin could develop its answer to Amsterdam’s Museumplein, London’s Exhibition Road and even Paris’s Palais Royal through the rejuvenation of its Georgian squares, according to the Dublin Civic Trust.

      The five Georgian squares are more than just historical set pieces and, particularly those on the city’s north side, are largely untapped social and economic resources, the trust said.

      It will next week hold a conference to celebrate the heritage of the squares – Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square and St Stephen’s Green in the south city and Parnell Square and Mountjoy Square on the north side – and to ignite a new era in their development.

      The conference aims to stimulate public discussion about the conservation of the squares through exploring new uses for buildings and promoting new perspectives on the role and design of their gardens and parks.

      Social vitality
      It also seeks to explore how the economic and social vitality of the city could be enhanced through reshaping predominantly commercial uses on the south side and widespread inadequate residential standards on the north side into world-class community and commercial centres.

      “While the conference day aims to showcase the historic significance of all of the squares of central Dublin, it will place a special emphasis on the north Georgian core of the city which for too long has been overlooked as an extraordinary cultural and economic resource,” conservation research officer with the trust Graham Hickey said.

      While they have been the victim of severe neglect, the buildings of the north Georgian core have more intact features than their southern counterparts because they were not “gutted” to accommodate office development to the same extent. For similar reasons, they offer greater opportunity to foster a vibrant residential community, Mr Hickey said.

      “The Georgian landscape of the area north of O’Connell Street, as laid out by the Gardiner estate over a century from the early 1700s, presents a potentially outstanding host to new residential and community life in the heart of the city, and as a backdrop to major cultural institutions.”

      Cultural quarter
      Dublin City Council’s plans to create a cultural quarter on Parnell Square, with the city library moving to the Coláiste Mhuire building and linking up with the adjacent Hugh Lane gallery, as well as the presence of the Gate Theatre and the Writers’ Centre, give the square the potential to be a cultural hub of international standard.

      “Parnell Square in particular, with its cluster of existing and future institutions, has the potential to provide a counterbalance to the museum quarter around Merrion Square – what one might term Dublin’s answer to the Palais Royal and Louvre complex in Paris, or Amsterdam’s Museumplein or London’s Exhibition Road.”

      The conference takes place in the Pillar Room, the former ballroom of the Rotunda, on September 13th. Further details at

      Well worth the €65 if you ask me:

      Followed by Garden Squares Day on 14th September

    • #806464
    • #806465

      Is there an author of that piece?

      Just prior to the Civic Trust’s Georgian Squares conference and Georgian Squares day, this was done on Merrion Square South by Dublin City Council Roads Maintenance Department:



      From Dublin City Development Plan 2011-17:

    • #806466

      ‘Programme for Restoration’

    • #806422

      I saw the same department in work a few weeks ago in Hatch Street.

      Rather than take the time to reinstate the metal tree surround it was dumped into the back of the van and the gap simply filled with tarmac.

    • #806467

      So I was looking at the derelicts sites register

      Its good to see there are now so few “derelict” building in the city.

    • #806468

      At last we’re starting to talk about reconverting pre-1915 houses in the city centre from office to residential. There’s been a real push in thinking from State initiatives such as Living City Incentives and the Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Grants to IGS own grants scheme, just announced, to Dublin City Council initiatives such as changes to development levies and the South Georgian Core report and models.

      This article in the Irish Times today

      Its positive!

    • #806469

      These are extremely worthwhile initiatives and deserving of much wider promotion.

      But seriously, what a lazy, misleading article from The Irish Times.

      Firstly, in a piece almost entirely about Protected Structures, the term ‘conservation architect’ wasn’t used once, the omission even extending to the Grade II services provided by the architectural practice interviewed!

      Secondly, since when have Masterplan Associates been known to specialise in historic building conversions? Nabbing a ‘chocolate factory’ on Merrion Square, a handful of mews and suburban house jobs, and facilitating the likes of below hardly puts you up there as an authority on innovative solutions to Protected Structure adaptation.

      A handsome set of Edwardian houses on Victoria Road in Rathgar.

      And the same houses which Masterplan Associates facilitated the omission of chimneys from in a retention application.


      Granted, after they had already had a Todd Architects sledgehammer applied. And this in a Conservation Area! I don’t know who’s worse – the architects, the consultant planners, or the publicly employed planners. What a disaster.

      The managing director of Masterplan goes on to state, as if he can’t believe his own luck: “We have never been refused permission and we’ve done lots of them,” says Kim.” “The more units you try and get, the more difficult,” Kim says. But we’ll try our darnedest for ya.

      Kim also says: “You should be aware that if it’s protected it absolutely will cost you more to refurbish, as you have to use traditional construction methods”.

      What a preposterous, sweeping and plainly inaccurate statement. Thanks Jong, Protector of The Heritage.

      One also imagines the first year planning student’s favoured tool in the kit: “A planning search is recommended in the early days to see if anyone has been refused permission to convert before you go down the road of buying the property” – came from this direction.

      Then the journalist herself, of the ‘paper of record’, goes on to spout cringe-inducing phrases like: “These grants can be used not just for Georgian buildings, but also protected buildings”. Imagine! There are buildings other than Geoooooorgian dolls houses that are of special interest!

      She then continues: “Dublin City Council has agreed to waive development levies charges on those converting historic buildings within the South Georgian Core from commercial to residential.”

      Eh, I think you’ll find that’s every Protected Structure in the entire Dublin City Council administrative area, never mind across the State. Unbelievable.

      She then consolidates it with the utterly misleading case of development levies being applied to the conversion of a Victorian pile on 37 Northumberland Road from commercial to residential in 2011. If she’d even bothered to look, the grand finale of her piece would have fallen flat on its face. No.37 is a Protected Structure and therefore exempt from levies under the current regime. The current regime was introduced as part of national planning guidelines published in 2012.

      The icing on the cake is asking Masterplan Associates – not the conservation architect Grade II – to notionally redesign a pair of highly significant, 1740s, former gabled-fronted Dutch Billys on St. Stephen’s Green into single family home, mixed use and multiple-unit options! They wouldn’t know a baluster from a barrister. Speaking of which, I’d better shut up.

      Lord, trash like this really gets up my nose.

    • #806470

      In fairness, the article, if nothing else, at least talks up the possibility of return to resi and introduces prospectives to concepts such as ‘the planning system’ ‘conservation architects’ ‘protected structures’ and the idea that it can be more complex than might first seem the case.

      Built environment professionals can sometime labour under the impression that everyone else knows what they are talking about. That concepts of planning and heritage protection are common knowledge to other people. Its not always the case.

      I fully agree that careful conservation and thoughtful adaptation will be key to the success of return to resi developments. It is of course incumbent upon professionals to advise people ethically and responsibility and imaginatively. And its essential that the local authority knows its stuff but also that it is helpful to these schemes or it will kill any nascent initiative dead.

      Take your points Graham, but still think its positive that we are at least talking about this and these schemes that no one seems to know anything much about.

    • #806471

      Yes of course it’s positive Stephen! That’s why it’s frustrating when the considerable incentives garnered in recent times, including the DOE’s guidelines for waiving development levies on a national basis, are misrepresented, while a frivolous, ‘buyer beware’ red herring upsets the entire apple cart.

      Likewise, if the correct specialists were interviewed, the features of period properties – not least the pair on St. Stephen’s Green – would be highlighted as unique and distinguished selling points, rather than as yet more red tape to struggle through.

      We have such an immature real estate industry in this country. They just don’t get it – the agents, the developers or the commentators. Is it any wonder the poor householder is at sea. All these guys are so behind the curve it’s embarrassing at this stage.

    • #806472

      Some good news items here:

      Parnell Square Cultural Quarter gets a design team of Grafton Architects and Shaffrey Associates. A planning application is expected for next summer…although awarding the design contract has been over a year delayed.

      Mountjoy Square now has the basis of a plan to redesign its gardens and restore the perimeter of one of Dublin’s most neglected Georgian Squares. A mooted €4.6m price tag.

      • #932266

        I don’t know if anyone is on these threads but anyway….

        I see the Irish Georgian Society were refused permission by Dublin City Council to replace the two-over-two 19th century sash windows in their HQ building, Assembly House on South William Street, with replica multi-pane 18th century windows.

        Are the Georgians being too purist, or would the correct 18th century windows really be an improvement?

        The decision:

        “1. This proposal will result in an unnecessary loss of historic fabric that will erase a phase of revision / intervention at this building, a phase which represents an integral layer of its development both in terms of the building’s social history and its evolution within the wider historic city context and therefore does not demonstrate best conservation practice. The proposed development would adversely affect the character of a protected structure located in an Architectural Conservation and would thereby be contrary to the proper planning and sustainable development of the area.”

        Planning Ref. 3957/14


        • #932316

          Too purist I would say.

          Its interesting that the IGS would seek permission to replace them actually.

          That it would ‘erase a phase of revision / intervention…in terms of the building’s social history and its evolution within the wider historic city context’ is a reasonable point for refusal in this case.

          Would anyone wish to comment on where you would draw the line regarding such revisions? By this I mean, if the original windows had been replaced in a later period, or if the two over two windows had been replaced again in the early part of 20th century, would the IGS application have had more validity?

          South William Street
          South Willian Street Proposal

    • #932329

      There’s still nothing like dogma for leading you down an intellectual cul-de-sac.

      We have conservation guidelines yes, but you’re not supposed to disengage your brain before using them.

      The passage quoted in the planners report states:

      ”the importance of recognising the various past alterations/interventions that contribute to the cumulative historic interest of a building and the fact that these should not be erased without due consideration of all the consequences.”

      What are the terrifying consequences of reinstating the original window proportions?

      The building is now semi-anonymous in the streetscape and virtually un-dateable to the casual observer due in large measure to having been thoughtlessly fitted up with a set of 19th century plate glass windows. And that’s the alteration that we’re supposed to value over an above any consideration for the integrity of the original design.

      The City Assembly House isn’t some vernacular building that evolved over time, each new generation contributing wonderfully to its layers of patination. It is a dignified minor set-piece building that was consciously designed in the mid 1760s by an individual [apparently Oliver Grace] and that was faithfully executed according to that design.

      Were the original window proportions integral to the architectural design? Of course they were.

      The City Assembly House doesn’t have . . . various cumulative alterations and interventions that contribute to its historic interest . . . it has the wrong windows!

      • #936572

        Absolutely shocking that an intact Georgian house – effectively at the top of OConnell Street- can be left neglected for years, in plain sight of the whole city, until it just collapses.

        Difficult to see exactly what shape its in but half of the back has gone, floors left hanging, bits of front facade falling into the street.. etc etc

        Another piece of our heritage gone despite being a “Protected Structure”, and on the Derelict Sites register (whatever the f*ck that means)for years.

        Despite having some of the best legislation for the protection of built heritage in Europe, DCC is unwilling or unable to take any meaningful action in even the most obvious of cases.

        • #936579

          That’s a real shame. Such a beautiful structure with so much history. Its decay has been documented for years as you say.

          30 North Frederick Street

    • #936638

      My thoughts on the IGS application – if the 2 over 2 windows had been replaced by aluminium frames or pvc frames in the 1990s, would the application to restore authentic windows be refused for the same reasoning “recognising the various past alterations/interventions that contribute to the cumulative historic interest of a building” or would it have been rubber stamped.

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