Monday, November 26, 2012

Liffey Trivia

1-Beat that Calatrava: Mellows Bridge, constructed in 1764 is the oldest of all the bridges currently spanning the Liffey.

2-River Gods: The sculpted heads on the keystones of the O’Donovan Rossa Bridge represent Plenty, the Liffey, and Industry on one side, and Commerce, Hibernia and Peace on the other.

3-A Boardwalk off a Boardwalk: A 120m cobbled, floating street moored off the Boardwalk was refused planning permission in 2009. Two former Guinness barges were to be restored as cafés and attached to the pontoon. 


4-Big in Japan: Float down the Liffey, a Japanese rock band formed in 2011 are so named not because of their love of the river but as a result of the Radiohead lyric from How to Disappear Completely.


5-A Literary Stench: Brendan Behan famously quipped, "Somebody once said that 'Joyce has made of this river the Ganges of the literary world,' but sometimes the smell of the Ganges of the literary world is not all that literary."

6-You couldn't make it up! A proposal to build a cable car system between Heuston and the O2 known as 'Suas' failed to win planning permission in 2007.

7-Dublin's Ponte Vecchio: The Bridge of Dublin built in 1428 (on the site of the current Fr Matthew Bridge) was the first stone bridge on the Liffey. It included buildings such as a chapel, bakehouse and an inn.


8-A Swift Departure: A giant sculpture of Gulliver floated down the Liffey in 1988 to celebrate Dublin's millenium. 

9-Rabbit Rescue: In 2011 a homeless man dived off O’Connell Bridge and rescued his pet rabbit after it was thrown into the river by a passerby. Subsequently he was offered a job at an animal shelter.


10-Murky Origin: The river rises in the Liffey Head Bog in the Wicklow Mountains which explains its curious brown colour and how it tastes of peat.

11-What does Poseidon have to do with the Liffey? Grattan Bridge (also known as Capel St Bridge) is adorned with creatures that are half horse, half fish, based on the mythological Hippocampus that drew Poseidon’s sea chariot.

12-The Original of the Species: The first bridge across the Liffey was built c.1014 at the original Ath Cliath (Ford of the Hurdles) crossing point that gave Dublin its Irish language name. It was sited near the point where the River Poddle flows into the Liffey.

13-A Bridge over Troubled Waters: The Loopline Bridge (1891) was the subject of almost 30 years of opposition and controversy because the structure blocks the view down river to the Custom House. However, it was deemed necessary as it provided a rail link between north and south Dublin.

14-Architectural Gem: The Millennium Bridge (1999) was prefabricated in Carlow, transported 90km and, despite weighing 60t, placed in position by a single crane.

15-A Sewer No More: King Charles II’s Lord Lieutenant, the Duke of Ormonde is responsible for insisting that houses built on the quays should buck the trend of turning away from the city’s sewer and instead face the Liffey.

16-Roll it there Ned: Ned Byrne, the father of Gay Byrne (famous Irish broadcaster) was a skipper on the Killiney, one of the barges that ferried barrels of Guinness down the Liffey to the port.


17-A Shrinking River: The Liffey was originally much wider, so much so that the Vikings could tie their longships up at the famous Long Stone (or Stein) at the present day junction of D’Olier St and Pearse St. 

18-The Recession Hasn't Been All Bad: A 48 metre high sculpture by Antony Gormley (Angel of the North) was commissioned for the Liffey in 2009. The recession grounded the 1.6 million euro project which had received planning permission and was due for completion in 2012.

Sunday, November 25, 2012

CHQ, Dublin's English Market??

I am fascinated by the CHQ building which overlooks the Liffey in the docklands. It was restored beautifully some years back by the DDA and reborn as yet another shopping centre with all sorts of doomed retail outlets which soon shut down. I estimate that currently over 75% of the units are lying empty.

I think it could be easily re-branded as the Dublin equivalent of Cork's brilliant English Market, that foodie heaven that even the Queen has visited. It could be filled with market stalls, kitchen shops, cafes and even a cookery school. It could become the ultimate showcase of Ireland's ever improving, indigenous food industry.

The currently empty central aisle of the building could accommodate areas for communal dining and space for several food carts maybe housed in airstream caravans or beach huts. It could have the casual vibe of an indoor farmers market along the lines of the famous Burough Market in London.

Ever since I moved to Dublin in 2000 it seems that people have been talking about the need for such a market in Dublin. The Iveagh Market in the Liberties often gets mentioned as a location for such an enterprise. I think the fruit market near Smithfield has also been suggested. Both of these buildings would need a huge amount of work before they could re-open, an investment the country cannot currently afford.

CHQ has already been restored at an enormous cost, it could immediately rebrand itself as an indoor market with minimal investment. CHQ is now the property of NAMA which means that it is technically owned by the public. It would be amazing if it could be reappropriated as something the city actually wants and needs rather than languishing in its current state of redundancy.

A Quay Planning Decision

FERGAL McCARTHY, Irish Times Saturday November 24
COMMENT: Dublin City Council is examining how better to use the city quays. But will it be ambitious enough?
The Liffey is arguably Dublin’s greatest asset: it’s the reason Viking settlers made their homes here and it is the backbone of the city. It has been a source of economic activity for centuries and should continue to be so.
The Millenium footbridge, the opening of the boardwalk along the north quays, the completion of the port tunnel and the ban on heavy goods vehicles have improved the area considerably.
I was thrilled to hear that Dublin City Council and the National Transport Authority is undertaking a study to rearrange the traffic on the quays to maximise space for cyclists and pedestrians, while maintaining priority for buses. It will look at the Liffey corridor from the Phoenix Park to the O2. If this plan goes ahead Dublin will take its place among the international cities that have introduced measures to curb car use. It is also a huge opportunity to re-establish the river as the centre of the city.
Currently the quays are viewed as a facility for moving people around the city, but the Liffey could easily become a destination in itself. Dublin is a coastal city with a river flowing through its centre. Whenever we capitalise on these natural assets the city works so much better. Last August more than a million people gathered around the river over the course of the Tall Ships Race. In my opinion it was one of the best events to take place in the city.
It is time to redevelop the Liffey quays as a world-class urban park. Most of the roads along the quays have three lanes. If at least one lane at either side of the Liffey were closed to traffic, the space could be used for wider footpaths and to create a linear park between Heuston Station and the O2. This is possible while retaining space for traffic, buses and bikes.
Such a park would need an overarching identity, with uniform lighting, bespoke street furniture and planting. Once the council’s study is complete, an international architectural competition could be launched to find a signature design that unifies the whole area along the quays, tying together the new footpaths, the boardwalks and the already widened campshires in the docklands.
Local forums could be convened for people to contribute their ideas about what they would like included in the park. Dubliners would be intrinsic to the success of the park, by both populating it and helping to run it. It is crucial that any new development have a dedicated trust to curate these activities and oversees maintenance, gardening, litter management, security and fundraising.
My interest in the river stems from being an artist. I make films about swimming in it, I have installed giant Monopoly houses on it and for a week last year I lived on a desert island that was moored in the docklands.
An 8km linear park would offer a wide range of walking and jogging routes. Food carts could be dotted at pitches along the quays and space created for markets with permanent metal tents. Playgrounds, skateparks and a daily roster of changing outdoor performances and events could also feature.
Now that we can no longer afford to hop on a flight to Spain every weekend it seems that our interest in the city has reignited. The park would provide an opportunity to harness this new energy by inviting people to volunteer and use their skills to re-present the city and make the quays work.
A reimagined Liffey could kick-start a renaissance of Dublin and make it a safer environment. It could be marketed as the first port of call for every visitor to the city. It would become a desirable location to live, work and set up business.
Many cities are researching plans for statement urban parks that would improve their centres and attract international attention, tourist revenue and local investment. Dublin already has a very beautiful, world-class attraction. The Liffey just needs a better frame

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Liffey Corridor Traffic Plan

The article below was in the Irish Times on November 19. It's fantastic news that Dublin City Council are thinking of creating more room for cyclists and pedestrians along the quays. It would be great if they incorporated the concept of a linear park into any future plans. A trust is crucial to oversee the park and organise volunteers, gardeners, security and litter management. This trust would curate a constant stream of events and activities along the river that would attract locals and visitors alike.

Frank McDonald, Environment Editor

A radical rearrangement of traffic on the Liffey quays in Dublin is in prospect following the completion next spring of a major study aiming to maximise facilities for cyclists and pedestrians while maintaining priority for buses.
The study, commissioned by Dublin City Council in association with the National Transport Authority, is looking at the Liffey corridor from Phoenix Park to the O2, including streets parallel to the quays.
Options being examined by consultants AECOM and Roughan O’Donovan include taking traffic off the north quays, limiting one side of the river to buses and cyclists and reversing traffic flows.
“The overall purpose of the scheme is to maximise facilities for cyclists and pedestrians, including mobility-impaired facilities, while maintaining priority for buses,” a spokesman for the city council told The Irish Times.
“The consultants will take into account all possible measures for the provision of cycleways and the improvement of facilities for all modes [of transport, including] reassignment of road space.”
Segregated cycle lanes, wider footpaths and optimising cycle, pedestrian and bus “wait times” at junctions, physical segregation of bus lanes, contra-flow bus lanes, junction priorities and turning bans are all being considered.
The consultants will also examine possible extensions to the Liffey boardwalk along the north quays, according to one source; it now terminates at Grattan Bridge (Capel Street).
“This all sounds like good news,” said former minister of state for planning and avid cyclist Ciarán Cuffe, who noted that Danish cycling guru Mikael Colville-Andersen, from Copenhagen, was involved in the Liffey corridor study.