The Dubline – Dublin’s Discovery Trail

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    • #711517

      Failte Ireland launched a framework for a heritage/tourism experience from College Green to Kilmainham this afternoon. Called ‘The Dubline’ the framework is described as a “big box of ideas” as to projects that can be undertaken to animate and enhance the main tourist route in the city. The plan is backed by €4m in funding from Failte Ireland via the DofTourism.

      Eschewing the traditional printed report format, the team created a zippy website to show their plans. The urban interventions are steamheaded by Sean Harrington.

      What do ya think?

    • #817713

      “steamheaded” interesting turn of phrase

    • #817714

      @StephenC wrote:

      What do ya think?

      Haven’t had a chance to navigate through the full site but I would have some issues with their analysis of the Kilmainham section of the route.

      The ‘Kilmainham’ section starts off with this observation:

      ‘The key challenge for the visitor journey is the walking distance associated with getting from St James’s Gate to Kilmainham’ . . . . . and then goes on to double the length of the journey by diverting the route down Stevens Lane, apparently just in order to come back up to the Royal Hospital via Military Road. What’s that all about? Unless they’re getting a decent back-hander from Superquin, I don’t see the point in this.

      It’s well known that you can manipulate tourist routes by a few degrees here and there to take in a particular gem, or avoid a meat factory, but I seriously doubt that you’ll get too many takers for a double dog-leg diversion like this. Think about the little bunches of conflicted Germans that will be found every day muttering incoherently at the fountain in James Street with their maps telling them to go north and every fibre of their being telling them to go west.

      And what is there in Kilmainham for the tourist who hasn’t already got fed up when they realize that they’re now at Heuston Station and they’ve been walking for twenty minutes and they’re no nearer Kilmainham than they were when they left Guinness?

      The report puts Kilmainham under the microscope and comes up with this sub-molecular diagram.

      On the positive side, the hidden gem that is the NAMA owned Kilmainham Mills gets a red balloon, but otherwise I’m not sure this colourful analysis leaves us any the wiser.

      For a start, I don’t see any suggestions in this document for the better use of the grounds of the Royal Hospital which are the centerpiece of the area, both physically and historically and which venerable monastic site has been reduced to a patch of waste ground in recent years by a venal combination of IMMA and the OPW determined to turn a quick buck by leasing the grounds out at every opportunity to concert promoters and fair ground operators.

      With its still – just about – discernable character as a town nucleus distinct from the city around it, Kilmainham is potentially a great anchor at the west end of an enhanced primary tourist spine running from Trinity College past Christ Church and up Thomas Street to the delights of Guinness, but this report probably fudges too many issues to be much use in charting a way towards realizing any of that potential and for all its graphic presentations, as far as Kilmainham is concerned, it leaves us back where we started with little more than the nationalist shrine of Kilmainham Gaol to hang our tourism aspirations on, albeit with the good fortune of a decade of centenaries ahead of us to exploit.

    • #817715

      What strikes me most are the cop outs of the strategy:

        Vision of how to develop and open up Dublin Castle
        What to do with College Green
        How to bring greater pedestrian/traffic balance
        Christ Church Place – High Street dual carriageway
        Physical regeneration of Thomas Street

      Its clear from the strategy that the team came up against some immovable barriers…and in Dublin that can only mean traffic engineers.

      Also I’m concerned that more wayfinding (albeit high quality stuff ) gets added while our usual beefs of redundant signs and obsolete poles takes a backseat. Less really is more in Dublin’s case.

      The big ticket projects appear to be summarised as follows:

        New tourism hub at Barnardos Square – essentially retrofitting Jim Barrett’s monstrosity and redesigning the plaza again – only 6 years after completion. In my view if progressed this will absorb most of the €4m funding…this is Ireland after all.
        Ship Street and Kilmainham public realm projects – both two stalled initiatives of the DCC Heritage Office. The Ship Street Werburgh Plan of 2005 is most noteworthy in the complete lack of progress any of its objectives ever made.
        Windmills at Cornmarket – hmmm, the less said on that

      On the upside, there does seem to be a genuine sense of engagement from Digital Hub Development Auth. and Diageo regarding their landholdings on Thomas Street and James Street. Lets not waste that opportunity.

      Meanwhile, what do we do about the kebab strip that is Dame Street?

    • #817716

      So that’s who won the tender…
      Might have been wise to reference some of the “runners up”
      4 million? I thought it might be 7 billion pounds to rival the titanic quarter?

      During the course of our work we drew on a wide range of source documents some of which have been assembled here for future reference.

      Archiseek?Facebook? need I say more…

    • #817717

      As cyncial as I am surely this is a start.

    • #817718

      Yes, I am inclined to think so too. At the very least The Dubline brings together and highlights all those dormant still on the shelf plans of the last 10 years and (tacitly) asks why they were never progressed and prioritises actions from them.

    • #817719

      Is there a particular reason why the Dubline never crosses the Liffey?

    • #817720

      Probably the most significant passage in the whole report is this quote from a Dublin Civic Trust document:

      Christ Church Cathedral and its Synod Hall have become little more than a picturesque traffic island, surrounded on nearly all sides by heavy through-traffic – the railed garden acting as a buffer from passing vehicles. The major street junctions at this location confuse and disorientate the pedestrian, while the setting of these internationally significant buildings is substantially degraded.

      The centre piece of any European city with a medieval heritage is its cathedral and we’ve let the setting of our Cathedral become hopelessly degraded by giving a higher priority to the accommodation of traffic movements. It could take decades to revive the stalled public transportation initiatives that could have begun to address the traffic movements problem, but that shouldn’t stop the city from re-balancing the space in favour of the pedestrian by repaving the entire setting of the Christ Church as a proper city square . . . . . through which traffic is currently permitted to pass.

      I think infilling the Jury’s Inn recess is a red herring, but the grass and the Christ Church railings have to go, and firming up the edges of Christ Church Place, as originally proposed in the McCullough report, just has to be got on with whether it takes CPOs or legislation or whatever it takes.

      I agree that an important step has been taken with the commitment to invest in this primary tourism spine, but this commitment needs to be followed up now by some serious table thumping to get actual movement on the ground. I don’t want to hear that, in a couple of years time, the 4 million was frittered away on some pretty signs and bits of sculpture, this has to be a transformative moment, the moment when we cop what being a European city means. If I want to hear anything at this point, it’s the sound of heads being knocked together.

      Kefu, the reason that the ‘Dubline’ [who came up with this piece of bargain basement branding?] doesn’t cross the river is that this is an – East-West – tourism route. There’s every chance that in the future we’ll get a complementary – North-South – tourism route penetrating the charms of the north side, but, in the interest of trying to stay alive long enough to see any of this happen, can we just do this one spine at a time.

    • #817721

      This is a bit cheeky of me but I’m going to piggyback onto your convenient “Dubline” moniker and direct any interested parties to a different, altogether more obscure Dubline (or Lifeline/Lowline).

    • #817722

      I’m sure they could open up a walkway alongside Line D, but that won’t be until 2015 at least.

    • #817723

      Would be a really missccool bicycle lane if the wheels are screwed on tight enough.

    • #817724

      A dissenting view on the success of Irish (and Dublin) tourism policies in today’s IT by Felim O’Rourke. The mentioned report Rejuvenating Dublin’s Tourism Potential can be read here It includes some very honest and frank appraisals of key city attractions.

      Failed tourism policy is costing money and jobs

      OPINION: In looking after vested interests, the State has ignored an industry and volunteers who are best at attracting visitors, writes FELIM O’ROURKE

      TOURISM HAS the potential for rapid large-scale job creation, but it is held back by the fact that discussion on performance in this area is dominated by State tourism organisations.

      The performance of Irish tourism needs to be objectively assessed and the policy implications of that assessment need to be addressed.

      The best measure of the performance of Irish tourism over a long period is bed nights for overseas holiday visitors. Incoming holiday visitor bed nights grew rapidly from six million in 1987 to 25 million in 1998, held steady for 10 years and then fell to 18 million in 2010.

      Incoming bed nights for that year were 30 per cent below the number for 1998. It might have been expected that this disastrous performance would have led to an informed discussion of tourism policy but this has not happened.

      Ireland, uniquely in Europe, has two State organisations involved in tourism.

      Most countries have a national tourism organisation that supports tourism businesses in international marketing. Tourism Ireland plays this role for Ireland. However, the role of Fáilte Ireland, which is responsible for tourism development and local marketing, is problematic.

      Tourism is intimately linked to community. When a tourist visits any destination, their holiday experience is based on all his/her experiences at the destination. A single business cannot control the totality of the holiday experience. Tourism needs the support of the entire community.

      All other developed countries that are interested in tourism understand this and have local tourism organisations that harness community support for tourism.

      Examples of such support include Martin Glasser designing the “I love NY” logo for free in 1977, the 120 volunteers who operate the tourist offices in Geelong in Australia, and the 5,000 volunteers who work in tourist attractions in Scotland every summer.

      A good Irish example of volunteering is St Patrick’s Cathedral in Dublin, which has more than 40 volunteers working in all areas of the cathedral looking after visitors. This is an example of a church community organising voluntary support for tourism.

      A centralised state organisation cannot organise community support needed for tourism. Joyce enthusiasts visiting Dublin this summer, as noted by Robert Ballagh, will not be able to visit the Martello Tower in Sandycove. Anywhere else in the world this fantastic tourist attraction would be run by local volunteers linked to the local tourism organisation.

      Community support for tourism is needed, for example, to eliminate car parking in Dublin Castle, develop a walking route up Ben Bulben in Sligo or turn 600 miles of disused rail lines in the west of Ireland into “Greenways” for cycling, hiking and equestrian holidays.

      Lack of practical community support for tourism may be one reason for the low level of repeat visiting by holiday visitors to Ireland. Ireland gets 0.5 repeat visitors for every first-time visitor compared with 4.5 for Spain and two for Scotland.

      We get almost two million first-time holiday visitors but fewer than one million repeat holiday visitors. If we achieved the same level of repeat visiting as Scotland we would double our tourism numbers. Most studies of tourism produced in Ireland are controlled by the State tourism organisations.

      These reports invariably make recommendations that suit Fáilte Ireland and the Department of Tourism. Examples include the 2004 PricewaterhouseCoopers report on regional structures and the 2012 Irish Tourism Industry Confederation report, Capitalising On Dublin’s Potential.

      In 2004, PwC reviewed regional and local tourism structures in a number of countries and then recommended a centralised structure, even though all the countries reviewed operate a community approach.

      All tourism businesses in Dublin were excluded from Dublin Tourism Ltd as it was turned into a Fáilte Ireland subsidiary in 2007, and the Irish Tourism Industry Confederation was given the right to nominate five directors. The chief executive of Dublin Tourism was a director of the confederation.

      This masterly protection of the insider network in Irish tourism was presided over by then minister for tourism John O’Donoghue.

      The Irish Tourism Industry Confederation study compares Dublin with six other medium-sized European cities. The major conclusion of the report is that Dublin is suffering “loss of competitive position against major European city competitors” because of “lack of co-ordination of marketing efforts”. It lists cities that “have established very effective city promotion organisations”.

      These are Edinburgh, Amsterdam, Copenhagen, Vienna, Barcelona and Lisbon. Each of these cities has an independent city tourism organisation. The report, however, recommends the setting up of a Dublin Tourism Marketing Alliance as a unit within Fáilte Ireland.

      Dublin Tourism was a subsidiary of Fáilte Ireland from 2007 to 2011. The confederation report recommends the replacement of Dublin Tourism Ltd, a Fáilte Ireland subsidiary and a failure, by a unit within Fáilte Ireland.

      Fáilte Ireland itself was a political creation that had no basis in any understanding of the nature of tourism or international practice. The setting up of Tourism Ireland in 2000 deprived Bord Fáilte of its role in international marketing. Fáilte Ireland then came from the merger of the rump of Bord Fáilte with Cert.

      Tourism is everybody’s business, but State organisations have controlled tourism for their own interests, excluding most tourism business and destroying the employment potential of Irish tourism. The Department of Tourism and the Minister for Tourism are responsible for tourism policy.

      Irish tourism policy has no basis in logic and is out of step with standard international practice. The policy has failed and that failure is costing us tens of thousands of badly needed jobs.

      Felim O’Rourke is an economist. He was joint author, with Jerome Casey, of the Dublin City Business Association report Rejuvenating the Tourism Product in Dublin, published in 2011

    • #817725

      Business as usual…

    • #817726

      What did you think of The Dubline? Did you have any views on what all that lovely lolly should be spent on before it was spent. Are you an architect? Did you fancy tendering for a commission to make your mark on Dublin’s Discovery Trail?


      The Dubline budget of €4m wont go all that far with big ticket items like this on board. I could easily see this sink a couple of million when all is said and done. And the value of building something new as a tourist information centre must be questioned when there are so many buildings lying vacant across the city and along this route.

      The above design is by Sean Harrington as is the concept for High Street (below). Sean seems to be the designer du jour for lots of the big spenders in Dublin…Failte Ireland (the Dubline), Temple Bar (Unrealised 2004 Framework, Meeting House Square Umbrellas), Dublin City Council (Millennium Bridge etc)

    • #817727

      Some altered perceptions?

      “For drivers, the result is more engaging than the typical boring journey through a colorless cement cavern.”

    • #817728

      Re: Sean Harrington’s concept for High Street – this does nothing to mitigate the hostility of this dual carriageway as an urban space. Elegant as the streetlights are, Dublin suffers enough with street clutter without adding more while ignoring the real problems in High Street, which also include the poor quality of the more modern fabric.

    • #817729

      Alas I fear the situation on High Street will be compounded rather than improved by pending civic projects. The proposed QBC on Thomas Street – James’s Street simply replicates the situation on High Street..reinforcing the primary focus of these street as major traffic conduits.

      There are improvements to be gained from QBC including repaving and improved street lighting but the traffic function of James Street- Thomas Street- High Street will now be set in stone (i.e. tarmac and concrete). Engineers appear unwilling to consider trees or enhanced planting to soften the scheme – various reasons put forward, pavement widths, cellars, private landings, underground utilities.

      The junction of Cornmarket is also outside of the scope of the QBC, meaning that it remains as is. Unless DCC Roads sees merit in changing the layout.

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