History is falling apart – give us back our Iveagh Markets
I find it strange that while every city in Western Europe is desperately trying to fight off businesses shouting “Get Lost Airbnb” and “Let’s Make Our Cities Great Again”, Dublin is being turned into offices and hotels only , skyscrapers, cement and steel desert.
The iconic and beautiful fruit and vegetable market on the north side is boarded up, and the magnificent Iveagh Markets – built for, then gifted to the Freedoms women traders by the Guinness family in the early 1900s – an architectural and historical gem of the Victorian era, is in ruins. Which give?
Let’s focus on the markets of Iveagh. They were designed to get women off the stones – the sidewalks – around Thomas Street and Francis Street where they traded “hail, rain or snow” and into a dry, clean place with water power and electricity to carry out their activities. business in comfort.
For women, it was miraculous. A philanthropic gesture for the benefit of the poor at a time when the rich were doing stuff like that.
The only expense the Corp sought was to maintain the building, keeping it watertight and functional.
Considering it was built during the height of Victorian construction, it shouldn’t have been difficult.
Unfortunately, the Corpo, renamed Dublin City Council in 2002, screwed everything up.
In the meantime, the abominable Celtic tiger arrived with money lying around here and there.
A bright spark decided, without consulting the traders or the liberties people, that Iveagh, a gift to the people of Dublin, should be sold.
The chosen man had made his fortune in tourist pubs in Temple Bar after a tip-off from Charlie Haughey.
A delegation from Dublin City Council traveled to the UK, where they handed over €100,000 to the Iveagh Trust to include hotels and bars in the new lease, thus making Iveagh legally, if not morally, salable.
Brilliant, right? From now on, they would no longer have to undertake repair work – then estimated at 1.25 million euros – nor be responsible for it, so just like the city’s water, garbage cans, roads and housing, they could be sold to a private entity.
That was in 1997. Over the next 25 years, the developer also purchased nearby Mother Redcaps Market and two other acres of residential properties in the area.
Meanwhile, as Iveagh’s floor was removed ‘for archaeological digs’, fatally weakening the entire structure; as the glass roof collapsed; as dampness and mold took their toll; as a fire demolished a nearby pub; the developer says he still wants to develop Iveagh.
The original lease stipulated that Iveagh was to be developed within three years. In 25 years, this stipulation has never been enforced.
Delay after delay has been let slip away, with no penalty, and disastrous consequences for Iveagh, who now has trees growing there, and there’s a lake in the middle.
Excitingly, last Christmas rescue seemed within reach. The current and fifth Lord Iveagh, Rory Guinness, charged, changed the locks and said he was taking over the Iveagh for the people of Dublin. Hooray!
The inhabitants of Les Libertés came out to applaud. Young and old, all over Dublin, imagined Christmas festivities in a revived Iveagh with hot toddies, costumes for a ten and bric-a-brac for all.
We would be like Berlin and Barcelona and Paris where indoor and outdoor markets showcase urban democracy. Open to everyone. Affordable by all. The perfect way to chat, eat and drink on a day on the town.
Unfortunately, the non-developer handed all the farrago over to the lawyers.
A mediation process involving Lord Iveagh, Dublin City Council and the developer is underway. No one from the Liberties, people who have fought for years to keep the issue alive like the local Rescue Iveagh campaign, was invited. Attractive.
So the beautiful Iveagh with its Victorian balustrades, its glorious stone and brick, its flashing gargoyles, its history, crumbles. Cement and steel monstrosities are springing up everywhere.
Iveagh for me is a bit personal. John Sweetman, a plain Irishman and a great, great, great, great, great, great, great-uncle, owned the highly successful Sweetman Brewery.
In 1796, where the Iveagh now stands, it was brewing 500 barrels of premium Irish beer compared to Guinness’ 600 when it 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 of the Liberties. For Dubliners. For the people of the world. For everyone.