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Inchicore to see Development as a Historical Military Quarter

 

Inchicore to see Development as a Historical Military Quarter – In this detailed articled, Craig O Reilly outlines the new development plans for Kilmainham and Inchicore as both a tourist and recreational centre of the city

A new report Commissioned by the Department of Housing, Planning and Local Government has unveiled plans to re-imagine Dublin 8 and Inchicore-Kilmainham as a historical military and museum quarter.

The idea is to take advantage of the long roots of the area going all the way back to the 7th century.  It builds on a number of recent infrastructural developments such as the renovation of Kilmainham mill, the setting up of historic walks, a museum and perhaps most interestingly, the linking of the Phoenix Park with the Memorial Gardens via a new bridge. It maps out a few key assets which will see short, medium- and long-term developments. Given the historical value of many of these features it recognises the potential to harness the area’s strengths in this regard.

 

Better Linkage

The report mentions one of the concerns of the community has been access to green spaces. While surrounding features such as the canal walkway, the Phoenix Park and the Memorial Gardens are relatively close by, accessibility is not what it could be. Creating new linkages between these areas will make them more open for all.

Flagship parks are also a tourist attraction, and they allow communities to take advantage of unique heritage.

The erection of a bridge between the War Memorial to the Phoenix Park, and another which would link Kilmainham Jail to Emmet Road is recommended to tie these historical sites together while also giving easier access to green spaces in the area.

Walks and Trails

It is evident that many of the historical sites around Dublin were planned in a way that facilitated the transport of garrisoned troops. The report suggests the creation of new historical walks to better connect these areas. Killmainham-Inchicore and Islandbridge could be linked by a Military heritage and cycling trail. It would create a wider route to the village of Chapelizod; a route back towards Dublin city either by or through the Phoenix Park would pass the former site of the Royal Hibernian school (now St Mary’s hospital). In this way access could be provided along the route to Collins barracks and Arbour Hill.

The integration of the Memorial Gardens with other Historical sites in the area is seen as crucial to Harnessing the overall potential of a military quarter much like the work which has already been done in other cities like Paris. It would require the appointment of a Director/curator for the entire quarter and the development of an interpretive centre to inform people of the many attractions in the area.

Given that sites like Kilmainham Jail and Collins Barracks are already very popular tourist attractions this would only widen the range of destinations to some features which before now may have been passed over due to inadequate signage and linkage. In this regard,  walking routes and trails are crucial to the development plans.

 

The Carmac River Valley

The River Carmac is one of the larger rivers in Dublin. It’s one of four tributaries of the river Liffey and was seminal in the development of Dublin city. It’s various concrete ponds (many of which are in poor condition now) provided water for centuries to the many local mills. In the 18th century there were prominent water mills which added to the aesthetic features of the area. Although most of these industrial features have been lost, the restoration of Kilmainham Mill is hoped to be renovated in the near future, since it still retains its machinery and would hold historical value. The report views the Carmac river and its features as a major amenity in the area, and has set out a medium term ambition to develop cycling lanes and pedestrian walkways along its bank which would be accessible to the community.

 

Killmainham Jail

Killmainham Jail is already a popular tourist attraction and holds special significance in that it is the site where the leaders of the Easter Rising were ultimately executed for their part in the rebellion. It has been the subject of paranormal documentaries and is one of the most often used locations in television and film. It is widely considered by historians that general Maxwell’s execution of the leaders of the Easter Rising turned public sympathies towards the rebels. Irish writer James Stephens remarked:

“Ireland, was not with the rebellion, but in a few months she will be.”

Such sentiments proved very much true and it is not difficult to see why Kilmainham to this day holds strong resonances for the Irish psyche and also why it is such a historic attraction for those who want to learn about Irish history.

The new report outlines plans to create a pedestrian entrance from Emmet Road to Killmainham Jail, making it not only a standalone site but an integral part of a vibrant museum sector.

 

Killmainham Mill

In the centre of Killmainham, the mill looks over the River Camac. It is a protected structure; a conservation management plan by Dublin City Council 2002 notes that before 1800 there were several water-powered mills in the area and Killmainham’s is one of the last intact structures.It may be the last fulling textile mill in Ireland. Assessment of the mill is being made way for a museum and milling experience centre so as to advance tourism in the area. Irish arts and crafts will also be prominent in the development. It was purchased by Dublin city council in 2018. For more on the Kilmainham Mills Click here and here

Construction of new bridge

A bridge that would join the war memorial park to Inchicore has been described as a game changer in that it would allow safe pedestrian access to the park, This would be combined with a new bridge over the Liffey linking together the War Memorial to the Phoenix Park. Something that has been in the pipeline for years.

The design for the new bridge was created ByIan Ritchie. It has been described as:

“a simple and elegant way of stepping from one side of the Liffey to the other. A slender blade of stainless-steel leaps from the reeds and rushes to cross over the river”.

Speaking at the announcement, Kevin Moran, Minister of State for the Office of Public Works and Flood Relief, said:

“The Irish National War Memorial Gardens are one of the city’s most culturally significant sites and I’m delighted to be announcing a winning design befitting of their importance. The role of the OPW is to both protect and present our built heritage for citizens and visitors, and the completion of the new commemorative bridge, in line with the original vision, will enhance these gardens for all to enjoy.”[1]

The bridge has been billed as a joint project between CIE, the office of public works and the city council. The crossing is in line with plans laid out over 90 years ago by Edwin Lutyens, who originally envisioned a bridge over the river Liffey to the gardens which consisted of the “sunken gardens”;a hedge garden, tiered sunken garden and a belvedere. In some ways, the building of this bridge has its roots in those original plans by Lutyens, but the plans have been modernised in terms of accessibility:

“The shallow arch resolves the competing demands of height for clearance over the pedestrian and cycle path on the river’s south bank and when the river is in flood, and flatness for wheelchair access.”

The bridge will commemorate Irish soldiers of World War 1 with the inscription of footsteps crossing its surface.

 

Destination Dublin 8

Re-imagining Dublin 8 as an attraction as a Historical Military quarter is just one of the aspects of the report, which outlines a host of other plans, some of them stretching towards 2040. It sees   the marketing of a historical and graveyard walking route together with the proposed pedestrian bridge linking the War Memorial Gardens to the Phoenix Park as a way to boost the overall appeal of the area, with the completion of cycleways as a major boost for both the tourism and bio-diversity for the area, along with a host of other opportunities laid out in the plan to harness the potential of Dublin 8.

 

[1]Dr Jack Nolan, report on Scoping Exorcise in Inchicore – Killmainham (Dec 2019), p. 42

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