Speech by Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, on the occasion of the publication of An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of Dublin South City and the launch of the Structures at Risk Fund 2018 and Built Heritage Investment Scheme 2018
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Ladies and Gentlemen.
It is my pleasure to be with you today to launch the National Inventory of Architectural Heritage’s book An Introduction to the Architectural Heritage of Dublin South City and the online publication of the South city survey.
The NIAH was established to record and evaluate the post-1700 built heritage of Ireland, uniformly and consistently as an aid to its protection and conservation.
This book is the 34th to be published in the NIAH series, and the second focussed on Dublin city. It is a project that celebrates the historic and architectural heritage of the country, a legacy of which we all can be very proud.
The survey documents a wide variety of structures, ranging from the magnificent to the many smaller structures that make up the city, including structures easily ignored – one such is the post box opposite the entrance to Dublin Castle on Palace Street, the first painted green on the 14th March 1922.
In his poem ‘Dublin’ the poet Louis MacNeice captures the long history of the city…
“Fort of the Dane,
Garrison of the Saxon,
Of a Gaelic nation”
From humble origins as a Viking settlement, it rose to being, by 1800, the sixth largest city in Europe.
From the medieval period we have buildings such as Dublin Castle and the two cathedrals, Christ Church and Saint Patrick’s, that continue to play a central role in the life of the city.
Many of the city’s finest buildings date from the Georgian period, including Trinity College, City Hall and the former Parliament House on College Green. The city’s characteristic, tall, red-brick houses, with their curved fanlights over the doors, date from this time. Their austere exteriors often hide interiors of great beauty.
The growing sense of national identity in the nineteenth century lead to the development of the Leinster House complex as a cultural area including the National Library, National Museum, Natural History Museum and National Gallery. A complex that I spend a lot of my time in and around, and so know them quite closely.
Kilmainham Gaol to the west of the city is directly linked with the 1916 Rising and the political upheaval that saw Dublin restored as the capital of an independent republic.
The new Free State government was responsible for some of the most significant buildings of the period. A personal favourite is the former Department of Industry and Commerce, just across the street from here, where my Department is now based. Its external stone carvings, by the artist Gabriel Hayes, represent the different industries of the state, from power generation to cigarette making.
The regeneration of Temple Bar in the 1990s, and the on-going redevelopment of the Docklands have seen some of the city’s built heritage adapted to new uses. These adapted buildings stand side by side with exciting new developments which, over time, may be considered part of the city’s rich built heritage.
The vast majority of the buildings included in the survey I’m launching today are in private ownership and their care naturally rests with their owners. That so much of Ireland’s architectural heritage has survived is testament to their commitment, interest and pride.
The NIAH surveys are crucial to informing the Record of Protected Structures compiled by the planning authorities. I am aware that the idea of a property being a protected structure can be a matter of concern for some owners, seeing it as a potential block to their development.
However, if historic buildings are to survive, they will have to be adapted to cater for changing circumstances and the modern needs of their owners and users. Freezing a building is not the objective – the challenge is to manage change without sacrificing a building’s intrinsic character. There are fine examples of this approach in many parts of the City today.
The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage enables me as the Minister for Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht to make recommendations to planning authorities for the inclusion of structures on their Record of Protected Structures. Earlier this year, I recommended 1456 structures for inclusion on the Dublin City RPS.
In this regard, I am delighted to announce today that the very successful Built Heritage Investment Scheme and Structures at Risk Fund will both operate again in 2018. These schemes will provide a €3.3 million euro investment in 2018 for the repair and conservation of protected structures nationwide. Over the past two years, the schemes have supported over 800 projects throughout the country across every local authority area and have helped provide employment in the conservation and construction industries. My officials will be contacting all Local Authorities in the coming days advising them of their allocation for 2018 and the schemes will be advertised on all local authority websites and on my Department’s website.
I would like to thank Dr Sandra Collins, Director of the Library, who could not be with us today, for facilitating this event.
I would also like to acknowledge the work by the staff of the NIAH, Their teamwork has combined to produce, what I hope you will agree, is a fine presentation of the architectural heritage of the city.
But most especially, I would like to express my sincerest thanks to all of the owners and occupiers who allowed the NIAH teams to make a record of their properties. Without your cooperation the project could not have happened.
It now gives me great pleasure to present a copy of the book to Katherine McSharry and Councillor Paddy McCartan