Newswire » Local History, Local News » Could A Liberties Museum Suit The Cork Street Park?

Could A Liberties Museum Suit The Cork Street Park?

St. Audeon's Tombs, Dublin 8

Preface: Just To be Clear, My Own Position On A Cork Street Park

Due to the articles I’ve written about the potential Cork Street Park, I’ve received some interesting ideas, via email and Facebook, for the use of the space that’s available, and I plan on presenting some of them here on My own personal stance on the park is that I am 100% in favour of it becoming a public space that all locals can make use of, but I am not affiliated officially with any of the campaigns that are ongoing, in order to remain as objective as possible.

Chamber Court flats prior demolition

IMAGE: Chamber Court flats, prior to demolition – image credit: Indymedia/Kevin/Chamber Court and Weaver Court Redevelopment Group

However, I do support the main Cork Street Park Campaign, the Dublin 8 Park Campaign, and the SkateD8 Campaign, because not only would a park in the area bring much needed benefits to the local population – what inner city area can progress without a green space for it’s kids? – but a park itself may also attract visitors to come into the area, and in turn, to boost the local economy too. And in my opinion, from all that I’ve learned, those three campaigns I mention are all looking for the correct types of beneficial facilities.

So that’s my stance in a nutshell. From that viewpoint, I will try to present any useful ideas for the proposed park that I come across, and I’ll also try to follow developments as they happen. The first interesting idea that I want to share is a novel use for a piece of the plot.

The Liberties Museum

There is a group of seven people who have come together in order to set up a Liberties Museum. They have been following the progress of the Cork Street Park Campaign, so it now seems obvious to ask if their project could be accommodated within the new park?

Blackpitts, Dublin 8 [circa  1880-1900] image credit: Robert French (1841-1917)/National Library of Ireland

IMAGE: Blackpitts, Dublin 8 [circa 1880-1900] – image credit: Robert French/National Library of Ireland

Jennifer Winder-Baggot (known as Jen), one of the seven members of the group, has created a business plan to help get the project underway. She currently lives in The Tenters, which is situated near Cork Street, and has a deep interest in local history.

As have all the other members of the group, including Justine Murphy, whom I had an interesting chat with regarding their plans for setting up a Liberties Museum.

Justine has lived in Blackpitts firstly, then Rialto, for the past 15 years in total, and like many living here locally, she wonders why a Museum hasn’t been setup to cater for local history primarily? With many museums housed either in our area, or nearby, and with the incredible numbers of tourists with an interest in history flocking into our area to visit those institutions and other popular local landmarks – some of Ireland’s most popular tourist attractions – Dublin 8 is crying out for a locally-centered historical exhibition centre, to promote the area itself.

Upper Johns Lane West, viewed from Thomas Street, 1888

IMAGE: Upper Johns Lane West, viewed from Thomas Street, 1888 – image credit: James Talbot-Power/National Library of Ireland

But along with the large numbers of Irish and foreign tourists heading towards St. Patrick’s Cathederal, Dublinia at Christchurch, the Guinness Store House, Kilmainham Gaol, and the countless other tourist attractions in the local area, there is also another real reason to create a Liberties Museum – the area itself is steeped in history, having played an important role in many of Ireland’s pivitol moments during recent centuries.

To have a place where that story can be presented would be really educational for all local people, and it could also help to present the wonderful story of the people from this area throughout the ages, to anybody else who visits. And there would be visitors, as the footfall heading towards all of those local visitor attractions is substantial, and could surely be tapped into?

The seven people who have come together to help setup a Liberties Museum envisage that the museum would include mostly donated items, which may come from local individuals, businesses, organisations and via other collections. This way, a really rich, diverse and authentic collection could be created, that truly represents local history. They haven’t started to collect items as yet, but there are plans in place to start that in the very near future.

St James Church, James's Street, Dublin 8

You can just about see the fountain that we are named after in this picture!
IMAGE: St. James’s Church (Church of Ireland), James’s Street, Dublin 8 [circa 1880-1900] – image credit: : Robert French/National Library of Ireland

Justine explained that the group have been in talks, for some time, with different authorities who have interests in the area, in order to secure a suitable premises for the proposed Liberties Museum. The question has arose around the suitability of placing it within a future park on the Cork Street/Chamber Street site, and there is much debate within the group as to the merits of that location, as there has been about all locations that have been considered and investigated so far. Should it be a new building or an old one? Which part of the Liberties would be the most suitable? These are questions which will only be answered as more research is done.

Rialto resident Justine says that she only recently joined this action group, but has found it to be a happy meeting of like-minded people, who all share a common purpose of wanting to present the history of The Liberties to the rest of the World. They plan on setting up the concern as a not-for-profit company, similar to how a lot of institutions are setup, and community groups likes ourselves too. At the moment, they have no official committee, but they do hold regular meetings monthly, and Justine explained that Jen is the main thrust, putting an incredible amount of time and effort into the project so far.

This article poses two clear questions:
[1] Does The Liberties need a museum?
[2] Should a Liberties Museum be incorporated into the Cork Street Park?

St James's Catholic Church, James's Street, Dublin 8

A view from the front door of our offices!
IMAGE: St James’s Catholic Church, James’s Street, Dublin 8 [circa 1865-1914] – image credit: Robert French/National Library of Ireland

[1] Personally I think the former is a foregone conclusion – this area should indeed have a museum to show off its rich tapestry of history. And thankfully the group of like-minded folks that are working on making that a reality, have started to make plans to begin putting together a collection, and they are busily following up leads regarding potential locations too.

[2] The latter is harder to answer. A lot of planning work would need to be done to test the viability, but the idea is an interesting one. If there is a substantial area for kids to let loose, and if the locals want to keep the allotments that are currently on the site (that appears to be the case, and there’s even talk of expanding them), a museum could help to add a nice broad range of visitors to the new Cork Street/Chamber Street facility too. Personally, I believe that, socially, it’s always good to have a broad demographic of people in general using any park.

Related Stories – Cork Street Park:
Map Showing The Lack Of Green Spaces/Public Parks In Dublin 8
Cork Street Park Campaign: Petition To Redevelop Derelict Site
Cork Street Park Campaign Urges DCC To Act Via Posters
SkateD8: Local Skateboarders Campaign For Skate Park In Dublin 8
Positive Signs For Turning Derelict Dublin 8 Site Into Park!
What’s Your Ideas For A New Public Park On Cork/Chamber Street?

Justine mentioned that the museum working group are looking at the feasibility of trying out a pop-up museum, to help get the ball rolling, and to begin to present the history of this area concisely to the public. That idea sounds very compelling, and not entirely unusual to Dublin. In recent times we have had a pop-up park, and there are pop-up markets happening regularly across the city. Maybe that’s the best way to start?

If I hear any updates on The Liberties Museum, I’ll be sure to pass them onto you!

You can contact the working group at

St. Catherine's Church on Thomas Street, Dublin 8

IMAGE ABOVE: St. Catherine’s Church on Thomas Street, Dublin 8 [circa 1865-1914] – image credit: Robert French/National Library of Ireland
TOP IMAGE: St. Audeon’s Tombs, Dublin 8 [circa 1865-1914] – image credit: Robert French/National Library of Ireland

One Response

  1. I have been following and enjoying your website since it started way back and I have also enjoyed reading all the comments by your subscribers, what history!!

    I think its a wonderful idea to have a museum in this wonderful part of Dublin, unfortunately, now its looking a bit rundown but with some investment in its future it will be great again.

    I think a wonderful site to house the Museum would be the old Iveagh Market on Francis St. its steeped in history and is already there as I think a museum should be housed in an existing building, where the very walls can talk of its past,metaphoricaly that is!.

    I am not from the area but did go to school there in the Holy Faith junior and senior school for young ladies as the brass plaque on the wall used to state.
    I would love to volunteer my time should it be needed.
    Best of luck for the future, regards Olive

Leave a Reply

© 1991-2014 Fountain Resource Group Ltd. · Registered Company Number: 193051C · RSS · Website designed by Solid Website Design