John Callery

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  • in reply to: Railway Tracks on Merrion Square #717127
    John Callery

    Many Moons ago Dublin had many iron horses.

    in reply to: Office blocks @ Kilmainham Gaol & Royal Hospital #718433
    John Callery

    Oral Hearing granted by An Bord Pleanala on Treasury’s first application(2467/00)for office space opposite the Gaol

    Meanwhile Treasury have submitted virtualy the same plans, a spare bun in the oven!! (with one block rising by a floor) / scheme under a different application (2217/01) and renamed the application now “The Hueston Office and Technology Park!!”

    Kilmainham prepares !!

    Dates and venue for oral hearing on (2467/00) to be announced.

    in reply to: info on who designed the new bars in Dublin #716879
    John Callery

    As an introduction to some of Dublin’s bars and a somewhat extended Dublin “pub crawl” visit the diccussion topic “ruining pubs” on first posted 11th October 2000 / last posting 29th August 2001.


    in reply to: ESB Head Office #714304
    John Callery

    This prime site will require a good developer along with a good architect, these days this required / desired alliance is the exception rather than the rule. Its location alone will ensure that the existing building will always be prime rental office space – so don’t expect to see reinstatement or many external changes here other than renovations to the interior (total upgrading of the HVAC / elec / IT systems etc). A betting person would not bet on a demolition man being employed on this one, as there are many bad examples of what was built in the 60s still standing and still viable (after internal upgrading) from a commercial point of view in the prime rental districts of the city.

    in reply to: it’s the little things that make us different #716710
    John Callery

    St. John’s Lane…. continued.

    The windows in the apse are from Mayers of Munich. Two windows close to St. Rita’s altar are by Irish Artist, Harry Clarke, the most striking window is near the Lady Chapel and is the masterly work of Michael Healy.

    Aaaaaa….the bells now they add to the atmosphere of “The Liberties” as they ring round its old streets of a Sunday morn’ (making a chime of ten). These are housed in the 200ft tower. The twelve statues in the niches on the tower are the work of James Pearse, the father of patriots Padraig and Willie.

    Must go down (have been on the mitch) next Sunday “and catch last mass” after a stroll along Francis and Meath St. ramble up along the Coombe and thence into Baker’s of Meath St. for a pint and one of the last of Dublin’s walk in the door pub ballad sessions.. yes indeed it’s the little things that make us different ..roll on Sunday in “The Liberties”.

    in reply to: it’s the little things that make us different #716708
    John Callery

    Dublin buildings are not exactly endowed with the little or elaborate oddments or fragments one sees elsewhere. But there are a few embellishments to be observed and to show others on the Victorian buildings along Dame St. and in particular NIB, AIB banks and what’s now called the Mermaid restaurant.

    Also some rather sombre looking heads fronting the old Iveagh Market on Francis St. What does the future hold for this grand old building since the Corpo sold it on some 6 years ago ??

    Even Dublin Churches are lacking the elaboration / decoration one sees on the continent – with the great exception of the magnificent John’s Lane Church Thomas St. This great “poem in stone” as described by John Ruskin was designed in 1860 by Edward Welby Pugin who chose Dalkey granite for the building and Welsh red sandstone for the decorative work (both external and internal). The wedding cake altar of Carrera marble is a must to show visitors along with the shrine (to the right of the main altar) which is surrounded by metalwork of the master craftsman.

    in reply to: ruining pubs #716835
    John Callery

    Kefu…I’m sure you would add to your list (after a visit) the very original old bar and the unique front snug of Mc Dowell’s / Richmond House right opposite the “Badlands” of St. Michael’s Estate on Emmet Road, Inchicore.

    Certainly worth investigating to see this very original old bar and a great band of very original punters enjoying the finest pint of Guinness in Dublin. It’s not to be missed after your next visit to the very precious and secret Old Royal Oak down the road on Old Kilmainham Lane.

    Incidentally, bigger than life Big Pat Dolan, manager of St. Patricks Athletic (who play right behind this old coaching house) uses the old bar as an unofficial front office and venue for “meeting the press”.

    By the way what do you think of the very original / innovative new dwelling near the Old Royal Oak. It’s now nearing completion as it rises and slopes back on its western elevation. This is a fine modern example
    (in my opinion) of how contemporary architecture can fit in so well with the old. It rises out of the original single storey artisan dwelling adjacent to the walls of the Royal Hospital and across the road from the Old Oak ? It’s to the design of its owner architect Peter Keenan.

    in reply to: Inchicore CIE Works #716499
    John Callery

    Another great irony associated with Inchicore ( Ireland’s centre of Victorian / early 20th C industrial transport ) is that the original route of the Luas as planned was for it to run through the centre of Inchicore and actually pass the old tram sheds!! on Emmet Road and continue its obvious run via Old Kilmainham to the city centre as in times past i.e. through the centre of population / greatest demand and an ever growing tourist route from city centre out to Kilmainham / Inchicore.

    But due to extensive lobbying by local publicans (they assumed they would loose the custom of their drink driving customers) and mickey mouse car dealers who sell their bangers up every lane along the route and out onto the road – the Luas was criminally diverted from the home of the tram and the people it was originally designed to serve and forced to take a sharp right at The Black Horse (Nass Road Bluebell) and travel along no mans land on Davitt Road at the back of Drimnagh, where on one side you have Lyons Tea, Berger Paints, Knorr etc and on the other a natural mote between the centre of population and the new tram, namely the Grand Canal.

    The biggest crime of all is that these mickey mouse types are now leaving the district because of the rise in value of their property sites and the ever growing traffic gridlock in the area – but the legacy they have left us and our tourists is that Kilmainham / Inchicore is now completely bypassed by the Luas which would have diverted traffic down Davitt Road and out of the district, now the opposite will take place.

    in reply to: Inchicore CIE Works #716496
    John Callery

    At the moment all that exists up in “The Works” is large empty sheds. There is a plan or rather vision / aspiration for a museum of industrial archaeology featuring what Inchicore was famous for, trains, trams and buses. There was talk about the transport museum out in Howth being brought “home” to Inchicore ( some hope) and to form a heritage trail up from the Great War Memorial Park, Kilmainham Gaol and the IMMA etc- everyone knows this makes sense even those who could make it happen.

    But as Mary O Rourke (Minister for Transport) has earmarked a National Transport Museum for her own neck of the woods in outer Mullingar – a national transport Museum for the empty sheds in Inchicore that would make perfect sense for the district and Dublin tourism ( like a lot of other sensible ideas for the district ) will not materialise. Also Inchicore’s finest steam engines were left to rust by CIE when they took over from the GSWR Company and only for the wise men of the north coming down to save them these great engines were destined for Hammond Lane to be broken up. They now stand in all their glory up in the Ulster Transport Museum!! – I would strongly recommend a visit to this fine “Inchicore Museum” just outside Belfast. Once again Belfast leads the way.

    in reply to: Office blocks @ Kilmainham Gaol & Royal Hospital #718431
    John Callery

    Green Street Development.

     Halston St. Park – former site of Newgate Prison.
     Stone finish and nice amenity for children / residents.
     Green Street, ground floor of your average apartment block incorporates retail units along its entire ground floor = amenities for old and new residents.
     Mostly apartments on both sides of Park.

    Halston Street.

     ST Mary’s Church with its stepped tower has character and its presence and varied shapes not dominated by 6 storey office blocks.
     Surrounded on all sides with varied buildings all in scale with each other.
     New office extension facing North King Street onto The Debtor’s Gaol. I’m glad to see does not imitate the old building and is in scale with the old building. But it is really banal and quite an ordinary block and devoid of any shape other than as flat as a mirror on its northern elevation. Office block on Green Street (again run of the mill) but not rising to diminish this old district. Nothing remarkable but in scale with it’s surroundings.
     Unlike Kilmainham Gaol the Debtor’s Gaol is not a National Monument surrounded on all sides by protected structures and visited by thousands of tourists all seeking amenities and facilities which are so lacking opposite Kilmainham’s unique national / international heritage sites.
     General topography around Green Street is the same and extension to Debtor’s Gaol is insignificant in its built environment when compared to development opposite Kilmainham Gaol which is proposed to sit on the highest naturally elevated site in Dublin West- consisting of 3 purely speculative blocks – 100% rent a space office blocks of 650,000 ft sq. and rising to 6 stories. No comparison exists here with the tiny Green Street scheme which is in scale and tacked neatly onto the Debtors GaolTo quote you, your words again Greg:

    “An apartment scheme sounds fine”

    There is no ( ZERO) residential element within the 650,000 ft sq. Macro Blocks.

    “the city must develop”

    Old Kilmainham’s tourism must develop and have priority over office blocks that could be built up the road on Goldenbridge or Jamestown Road Industrial estates.

    “the city must live”

    What is proposed for Kilmainham is dead office blocks after 5pm and over weekends and holiday periods when the tourists are here in abundance to face these empty dead spaces on leaving the Gaol and the Royal Hospital. With only people having business (9-5) in the blocks availing of its magnificent location and panoramic views.

    Office blocks are not an appropriate development for Kilmainham considering its vast tourism potential presented by all its heritage sites and parks and zero amenities / appropriate development. If the function of this work planned for here had substantial community / tourism gain (as Kilmainham cries out for) then its architectural merits would be of secondary importance – this has neither.

     The Corporation and Treasury only envisage rates and rent respectively. In the mid 60s nearly 100% local voluntary labour (of all political persuasions) restored the Gaol and saved it from it from becoming a national ruin-when the entire roof had fallen in. A similar fate faced The Royal Hospital when all it was, was an abandoned playground / wonderland for us to play as kids.

     All this was done when no developer or government agency was even remotely interested in the preservation of either architectural or historical icon. And now when the district is so popular with visitors, it’s to be dominated by 3 monolithic office blocks- it just does not make sense.

     This scheme opposite the Gaol is nothing less then a new version of “Park House” that stands on the North Circular Road above Stonneybatter. Its devoid of any character other then its monolithic proportions and simple monetary function – rent a space office blocks.

    “The proposed site is a field”

    But not just any old field in any old place Greg. What’s planned is just not good enough (in purpose and architectural style) considering the context into which it’s proposed to land and not on a short visit but to stay for generations like Park House on the NCR.

    “Anything would be better than what’s there already”

    Greg are you serious? ??ANYTHING?? considering the unique architectural and historical stone icons that surround this site on all sides.

    “Our architectural heritage is precious the bit we have”

    Well said, and a substantial amount of it stands in Kilmainham and all in the vicinity of the Gaol.

    “ A zealous streak of anti development running through everyone today (read the visitors book on the site).”

    The following (among many) have visited and have commented publicly as follows.

    1. Liam O’Brien, California.

    “As a film producer for Discovery Channel, I have featured Kilmainham Gaol in our serious “Invisible Places” which has been seen by over 30 million people and is still aired worldwide. Fortunately I did not have to then and when I film at Kilmainham in the future I hope I will not have to include these oversized, out of perspective, dreadfully lumpy and monumental office blocks in any exterior shot of the Gaol. In my opinion these buildings as drawn, ruin the experience that is Kilmainham. Liam O Brien Los Angeles, California.”

    2. Michael Chretien , (Neatherlands).

    “In my capacity of an University professor dealing with heritage and inner city revitalisation, I am convinced that such so-called “modern” development near Kilmainham Gaol would simply be a crime against intelligence, against the environment, against the very basic principles of urban development and Irish identity. After the bunker already committed along the Liffey, this would definitely promote Dublin Corporation as the champion of the worse urban projects worldwide.”

    3. Hugh Pearman ( London).

    “This is the horrible story of a developer trying to squeeze the maximum possible flooespace out of a site, and to hell with the surroundings. There comes a point when basically bad and inappropriate proposals such as this one cannot be “improved” any more. If it’s overscaled (and it is, grossly) then no amount of fiddling about with the elevations is going to help much.

    At which point it is time to wave goodbye to whoever is proposing the bad scheme and invite new approaches from less greedy people fielding better architects, capable of producing a suitable lower density scheme. Preferably mixed-use. You know, homes shops,cafes, etc as well as offices. That way it doesn’t go all dead at 5pm”

    4 Suzanne Barret (USA).

    “I have visited Kilmainham Gaol four times over the last 12 years, twice to gather information for a novel set during Ireland’s War of Independence, and a fourth time to write an in depth feature for my travel website IRELAND FOR VISITORS. I think it is a misuse of land to develop across from a National Monument with a high-rise office complex and parking garage. Surely the property could be better be used to benefit the huge number of visitors to the Gaol and the nearby art museum by providing visitor related resources”

    And to conclude with comments by Renzo Piano on office blocks in general:

    “Office blocks have a bad reputation because they are selfish, they are totally enclosed worlds”

    in reply to: UK Planners! #716230
    John Callery

    Sounds like good news, look what has being planned and will soon open in Glasgow on June 21st while we all wait and wait for even one “grand public projet” to be even proposed and of any type for Dublin City.

    in reply to: weekend wander #716228
    John Callery

    Fine piece Duncan, reads like an updated version of Leopold Blooms walk around Dublin City in Ulysses. Since Leo’s one day walk about town we still have – Moore street (still here) and as you state now “vibrant healthy multi cultural living”. Rialto and Inchicore will / are developing along similar lines – “vive le difference”. Bridge across the Royal Canal, still flowing, still standing but so much could be done with and around the “old naler” (canal).

    “Public transport service is so crap what kind of capital do we live in”?

    All agree on this – In Leo’s day Dublin had an advanced tram system that ran from the city centre out to Blessington in Wicklow, Lucan to the west and out to Howth Head , all over the city centre and to each Dublin suburb.

    “Ifsc = dead”

    Agree, great success this office development but totally dead and all gone after 5pm and over the entire weekend / long weekends are really long in its office zone.

    I have being on the mitch from O’Ds for a while, must drop in, are the lads still playing at the front of the shop ? When “the trad”/ jar / banter are flying no one minds the crush !

    Pidgeon House Flues – much under-rated Dublin landmark !

    There actually stands 3 distinct boiler-houses. Pidgeon House 01 (Victorian times) – had originally 11 boilers and eleven flues. The structural outline of this building still stands now stripped of its roofing – great things could be done with these old structures – maybe worth some thought for your thesis (over pints in Campion’s ) on the other side of the Liffey.

    Pidgeon House 02 (coal fired and which was decommissioned in the summer of 1962 and had to be fired up again the same year as the winter was so harsh ) also stands complete with its two much smaller flues then the present Pidgeon House 03. (Oil fired until 1985 now fired on natural gas).

    Travel and wander down this part of the old docks on a Sunday afternoon and let your imagination fill in the vibrant activities that once thronged this still the focal point of Dublin’s energy and power.

    If you can (and I have being fortunate to do so) sail up the river and view the potential of these old powerhouses from mid-stream.

    Enjoy your wander down the docks.

    in reply to: Books – must reads #716218
    John Callery

    Check out today’s (Tuesday 5th June) supplement “Go Belfast” with the Irish Times. Good introduction to current developments and trends.

    in reply to: ruining pubs #716827
    John Callery

    Dublin’s boozers are a dying species – latest one to be revamped and “modernised” and renamed after over a 100 years is the old Horse and Tram on the north quays now a so called trendy drinking trough called SPY !! – it’s criminal what’s happening. How long will The Flowing Tide last and retain even it’s 100 year old name?? Dublin’s pub heritage is rapidly being destroyed with full planning permission.

    Pubs that have had a Dublin character since they were first built are being replaced – (and their customers scattered in search of a genuine boozer) – with permission from the Corpo. You can sit (if there’s a seat) and if your lucky chat if there is no constant “boom boom” in these new “Dublin” bars. You often have to stand in these theatres as the owners are reluctant to build in seating as leaning on a shelf sucking a bottle “is cool” and provides more floor space for transient punters.

    These cool bars are as transient as their customers and will not last a decade. But too late for old pub heritage.I have nothing against new bars but they should and would be built from scratch if the pub licence cartel was broken. Give these “cool cats” drinking in these new bars another 10 years or so and they will be asking like tourists where can one find a good old Dublin boozer??

    The remaining inner city bars i.e. Mulligan’s, Stag’s Head, Lord Edward etc. are now so cramped because those of us (and we are numerous) who like the genuine article, atmosphere and conviviality of the old boozers are being restricted to a decreasing number of pubs and have to seek out the few listed and protected ones.

    in reply to: Belfast vs Dublin #716191
    John Callery

    Also check out the following anyone who traveling up to Belfast.(I’m going this weekend). Clarendon Dock and the renovated St.George’s Market near the Hilton (restored as a genuine city market, meat,fish,veg etc )unlike Dublin’s Iveagh (Francis St.) still dormant and the demolished Old Daisy that once stood near Smithfield.

    in reply to: Belfast vs Dublin #716172
    John Callery

    MG, We are very much aware of the great quality of the excellent architecture that we are so previlaged to have (on all sides) and only wish to protect it from the ordinary the banal and the “run of the mill”.

    We are also very much aware of the great (architecture and function) of the contemporary Belfast developments and know that what is proposed for us is just not at the races when compared to what has stood here for centuries or what has stood in Belfast for only a few years. The site opposite the Gaol deserves the very best.

    in reply to: Belfast vs Dublin #716167
    John Callery

    Yes indeed, Ireland’s two most magnificent contemporary buildings have to be Belfast’s Waterfront Hall (Belfast architects Robinson and Mc Ilwaine ) and the Odyssey Centre ( Belfast architects – Consarc ).

    Architecturally Belfast is buzzing and the two above gems are only something Dublin can only wish for Celtic Tiger et al. Plenty of cash down south but so little vision / aspiration to achieve excellence from local authorities, central government and developer alike and very poor client briefs for architects to aspire to. Maybe the next cross border body should be devoted to the sharing of architectural projects of greatness and excellence and off benefit to the public.

    Also worth a visit when up north is the Hilton Hotel (note the foyer and “Sonama” raised restaurant overlooking the Lagan and the tastefully designed riverside apartments). Also visit the entrance of Europe’s most bombed building the Europa Hotel and walk around the foyer that was redesigned about 8 years ago and pay a visit to the Gallery Lounge on the 2nd floor. Round of your day in the only bar in Ireland that is a listed heritage site and run by British National Trust the most unique and “snug filled” Crown bar right opposite the Europa. Also, the way Dublin pubs are being destroyed we’ll all have to go to Belfast (to find not only architectural excellence) but to enjoy a jar in a genuine Irish city boozer.

    in reply to: Underneath Dublin? #716327
    John Callery

    The Guinness tunnell that runs from James’s St.under the bowels of the brewery down to where the barrells used to be loaded onto the Guinness barges at Victoria Quay for transit to the Guinness ships at Sir John Rodgerson’s Quay is certainly worth exploring. This is usually included if one asks for an engineering tour of the brewery from the Chief Engineer.

    in reply to: Office blocks @ Kilmainham Gaol & Royal Hospital #718422
    John Callery


    View on additional generated images on what Dublin Corporation, Treasury Holdings and Tony Reddy plan for to overlook “The Western Gateway into Dublin City”. Greg, you reckon the front elevation of this “adds substance” and gives Old Kilmainham
    (Dublin’s last urban village) “a city like quality”. I recall the same words being said about the office blocks of the late 60s that still stand 40 years later all over the city and are totally alien to the context as surely the flat roofed (profile steel panels) Macro Blocks are in 2001. Any opinions on the “back” of this landmark building ! which faces the Pheonix Park, the Western Gateway into Dublin City and the residents of the South Circular Road.

    Can you imagine the view of this from the Magazine Fort ! How would you like to live on St. John’s Terrace with this in your back garden ? These could be 3 blocks transplanted from Beaumont Hospital (minus the flues)- they will come later (on another layer) no doubt. Also as it states in the so called EIS “this development stems from detailed discussions with the senior architects and planners of Dublin Corporation”. Then as result of objections from all sides on this development the Corporation responded with their “additional information”. In other words the following was not even taken seriously or discussed at these cosy “pre planning decision” consultations between developer and Corpo only.


    In Dublin Corporation’s (very responsible) “additional information” Jim Barret and Kiaran Rose demanded and I quote –

    “This area formed by the junction of the South Circular Road, Inchicore Road and Kilmainham Lane contains an ensemble of buildings of the greatest architectural, historical and cultural importance. The area is also a gateway into Dublin City. Given the great importance and sensitivity of the site and all surroundings areas, a development of EXCELLENCE IS ESSENTIAL on this site.

    Aside: This is Dublin Corporation correctly saying this is mediocre and architecturally of little merit.

    Regarding the effect on the Protected Structures and other built environment, the EIS Architectural Heritage section states
    (p157, para. 22.5) that:

    “The proposed development does not physically impact on the buildings (nearby), but it will drive a wedge between the buildings and their physical and historical environment. Remedial and mitigation measures are therefore design issues and should be addressed accordingly”.

    To quote further:

    The critical issues arising in this development are as follows:
     The effect of the proposed development on the ensemble of buildings of great architectural, historical and cultural merit and the related urban space and achieving a better architectural and urban design solution.
     Achieving a better mix of uses.
     Protecting adjoining residential amenity.
     Providing for greater use of public transport also cycling, walking etc.

    Having regard to the National Importance of the site and surrounding area.
    (e.g. opposite a National Monument and the adjoining range of other protected structures all in juxtaposition), the proximity of the gaol alone which is of national significance in the history of the state, means that the immediate environs of the gaol is of greater significance in terms of the historical development of the nation than is the case with any other National Monument. Also regarding the extensive nature of the proposed development and para. 22.5 of the EIS, the applicant is requested to submit:

    (a) Alternative architectural proposals which would be more in character with and WOULD ENHANCE the nearby Protected Structures and in particular Kilmainham Gaol. Such proposals should be of ACHITECTURAL AND URBAN DESIGN EXCELLENCE and have a character of solidity (with a high solid to void ratio), simplicity and elegance which would compliment (and not compete) with the Protected Structures and related urban space.

    Aside: This is Dublin Corporation now saying that this proposal offers little architectural merit / urban design excellence ! yet it’s still permitted with minor modifications by the senior officials of Dublin Corporation.

    (b) Alternative proposals to be submitted which would provide for the proper integration of the proposed development with the adjoining public realm.

    Aside: The same development came back Christmas Eve 2000 and its density increased by 40,000 ft sq. Total “accommodation” now 650,000 ft sq.

    The applicant is requested to submit proposals for a greater mix of uses on site. Residential uses and / or a hotel should be considered.

    ……the result (after mitigating and remedial work)! of the above is what you can see… basically Dublin Corporation binned their own “additional information” along with 2000 objections and also went against the wishes of the elected representatives of the entire Dublin City Council who represent the people of Dublin City. They took out the original plans + an extra 40,000 ft.sq. and sanctioned this development.

    Incidentally, most of us in Kilmainham are aware of the great legacy Jim Barret (Dublin City Architect) left for Limerick and the nation in his tenure as Limerick City Architect when he oversaw the restoration and appropriate development of and surrounding King John’s Castle. Limerick Corporation refused planning permission for a hotel opposite King John’s Castle saying “the scheme as presented is too big and out of character with the historical context. Its ultra modern design is at odds with the mature historical setting surrounding the Castle” how would Limerick Corporation have reacted to the Macro Blocks right opposite King John’s Castle?

    Kilmainham would gladly swap the Macro Blocks for the much required tourism and local facility that a hotel would represent. Model flat roofed retro-fit office blocks are OK for Dublin’s Kilmainham Gaol but a tourism development that Kilmainham cries out for would not be permitted in Limerick.

    in reply to: Office blocks @ Kilmainham Gaol & Royal Hospital #718420
    John Callery

    Greg F…just to remind you of your initial responce to news of 3 office blocks planned to face Kilmainham Gaol. Posted Nov’24th 2000.

    ” An appropriate and sympathic development is really needed here”

    “….a proper planning and development system is greatly needed here for the village to blossom at its full potential”

    “….but to add an appropriate and well thought out design is needed.. no run of the mill sub-urban industrial estate office blocks”.

    And so say all of us in Dublin 8 and 10.

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