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Historic IAWS Building Redevelopment Nears Completion

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Historic IAWS Building Redevelopment Nears Completion

In this article, Stephen Davis briefly recounts the history of the iconic IAWS building on Thomas Street before delving into its current redevelopment 

Redevelopment of the former Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society (I.A.W.S) building nears completion. The historic landmark Thomas Street property served as the headquarters of IAWS for over 117 years until it was sold in 2014 for 5.2 million. The first part of the new development called “The Grainhouse” will see two internally heated courtyards, an event space for 100 people and planning permission compliant a cafe and restaurant. Surrounding the courtyards will be 40,000 sq. ft of Georgian style offices with a further 30,000 sq. ft of open office space in the former warehouse part of the building.

The building was made famous for the capture of the 1798 United Irishman Lord Edward Fitzgerald.  The head of military operations for the doomed Irish uprising shot one of his would be captors before being wounded himself and later hanged by Judge Lord Norbury.  The scene took place in the upper most room on the western side of the building, a scene immortalized in a famous sketch by British cartoonist George Cruikshank.  The room was supposedly to be left as it was at the time of Lord Fitzgerald’s capture.

According to the official centennial history of IAWS, the cooperative movement in Ireland began in the late 1880s with dairy farms, whose products were being displaced by new European methods of making butter. At the same time, the short shelf life of dairy products gave farmers little leverage with commercial creameries. There soon evolved federations of individual cooperatives, which were concerned with both obtaining the best prices for their members’ wares and with securing adequate supplies.

Horace Plunkett, considered the founder of the co-op movement, and others created an administrative body in 1894 called The Irish Agricultural Organisation Society (IAOC; renamed the Irish Co-Operative Organisational Society in 1979). The IAOC convinced the Irish Co-Operative Agency Society Ltd. (IACSL), founded in 1893, to focus on marketing butter and dairy equipment. A new organization, the Irish Co-Operative Agricultural Agency Society Ltd. (ICAAS), was formed in Dublin in the current building on January 15, 1897, to address the problem of procuring quality supplies, particularly seeds and fertilizers. Plunkett was chairman for its first two years. He was assisted, at first, by three employees. Lieutenant Colonel Loftus A. Bryan succeeded Plunkett in 1899. ICAAS was renamed the Irish Agricultural Wholesale Society Ltd. (IAWS) in December 1897 and utilised the Thomas Street property as their headquarters, which they vacated in 2014.  It was sold for €5.2 million that same year.

Joe McGinley founder of Iconic Offices, a company which specializes in developing flexible workspaces commented: “We have been working on this building for over a year and it will be our largest and most innovative project to date. Dublin 8 is an exciting city neighbourhood bursting with opportunities and innovation, where the rich heritage of this historic city quarter sits side by side with dynamic media and tech hubs.”

The first phase of the development will open in march 2019 with the second phase opening in July of the same year.

Photos by Stephen Davis

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