I find it odd that while every city in Western Europe is desperately trying to ward off the corporations by yelling “Get Lost Airbnb” and “Let’s make our cities great again,” Dublin is being shoved onto an office-and-hotel-only railroad becomes. High-rise, cement and steel desert.
he iconic and beautiful fruit and vegetable market on the north side is boarded up and the beautiful Iveagh Markets – built and then gifted to the Liberties traders by the Guinness family in the early 1900s – are an architectural and historical Victorian gem in ruins. What gives?
Let’s focus on the Iveagh markets. They were designed to take the women ‘off the stones’ – the sidewalks – around Thomas Street and Francis Street, where they traded ‘hail, rain or snow’, to a dry and clean place with running water and electricity bring to conduct their business in comfort.
For the women it was a miracle. A philanthropic gesture on behalf of the poor at a time when rich people did such things.
The only expense required by the Corpo was maintaining the building, keeping it watertight and operational.
As it was built in the heyday of Victorian construction this should not have been difficult.
Unfortunately, the Corpo, nicknamed Dublin City Council in 2002, screwed everything up.
Meanwhile, the hideous Celtic tiger came along with money sloshing about.
Some bright spark, without consulting the merchants or the people of the Liberties, decided that Iveagh, a gift to the people of Dublin, should be sold.
The chosen one had made his fortune in tourist bars in Temple Bar on a tip from Charlie Haughey.
A delegation from Dublin City Council traveled to the UK where they presented €100,000 to the Iveagh Trust to include hotels and bars in the new lease, making Iveagh legally, if not morally, salable.
Awesome right? Now they wouldn’t have to carry out any clean-up work – which was estimated at 1.25 million euros at the time.
That was in 1997. Over the past 25 years, the developer has also purchased the nearby Mother Redcaps Market and an additional two acres of residential lots in the area.
Meanwhile, the ground at Iveagh was removed ‘for archaeological excavation’, mortally weakening the entire structure; when the glass roof collapsed; when humidity and mold took their toll; when a fire destroyed a neighboring tavern; the developer says he still wants to develop Iveagh further.
The original lease that Iveagh envisaged was to be developed within three years. In 25 years, this provision has never been enforced.
Deadline after deadline was passed without penalty and without disastrous consequences for Iveagh, which now has trees growing and a lake in the middle.
Excitingly, last Christmas seemed like salvation was near. The current and fifth Lord Iveagh, Rory Guinness stormed in, changed the locks and said he would take back the Iveagh for Dublin residents. Hooray!
Liberties residents came out to clap. Young and not-so-young across Dublin envisioned Christmas celebrations in a revitalized Iveagh with hot toddies, suits for ten and knick-knacks for all.
We would be like Berlin and Barcelona and Paris where indoor and outdoor markets demonstrate urban democracy. Open to all. Affordable for everyone. The perfect way to chat, eat and drink for a day on the town.
Unfortunately, the non-developing developer put the whole farrago back in the hands of the lawyers.
A mediation process involving Lord Iveagh, Dublin City Council and the developer is ongoing. None of the Liberties, people who have fought for years to keep the issue alive, like the local Rescue Iveagh Campaign, were invited. Nice.
Beautiful Iveagh, with its Victorian balustrades, magnificent stone and masonry, its twinkling gargoyles, its history is crumbling. Cement and steel monstrosities are springing up everywhere.
Iveagh is a bit personal to me. John Sweetman, a United Irishman and a great, great, great, great, great, great-great-uncle, owned Sweetman’s very successful brewery.
In 1796, where the Iveagh now stands, he was brewing 500 casks of Superior Irish Ale at Guinness’s 600 when he sold to the big boys.
Come on Dublin City Council and Mr Developer Man – give us back Iveagh and our markets.
We want them for the people in the freedoms. For the people of Dublin. For the people of the world. For each.
https://www.independent.ie/opinion/comment/history-is-collapsing-give-us-back-our-iveagh-markets-41910222.html Story is collapsing – give us back our Iveagh markets