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Dublin Squares Conference/Open Day – Sept 13th/14th

Dublin Squares Conference 2013

The Dublin Civic Trust is celebrating the heritage of Dublin’s Squares by hosting a Dublin Square Conference on Friday September the 13th, and a Dublin Garden Square Day on Saturday the 14th of September.

Dublin Squares Conference 2013 (Sept 13th)
Dublin Garden Squares Day 2013 (Sept 14th)

Below is plenty of information, taken directly from the Dublin Civic Trust website, relating to both days’ events.

Dublin Squares Conference, Friday September 13th 2013

Dublin Squares Conference, Friday September 13th 2013Dublin Civic Trust is delighted to announce a major one-day conference assessing the role and significance, past, present and future, of the historic squares of Dublin.

Placing a special emphasis on the north Georgian area of the city in collaboration with The Mountjoy Square Society, this major one-day symposium will be hosted in the magnificent environment of the former ballroom of the Assembly Rooms of the Rotunda Hospital on Parnell Square, once the focus of social life in eighteenth-century Dublin.

Conference Theme:

DUBLIN’S five major historic squares are emblematic of the city’s internationally renowned eighteenth-century heritage, synonymous with Enlightenment principles of urban planning, ordered street architecture and classically inspired park and garden design. The square has ancient roots in Greek and Roman civilisations, and later in the Renaissance civic planning of continental Europe, however it is the local, vernacular interpretation of the urban square in the Dublin context, and the social and economic dynamics that forged it, that lend these surviving built and natural landscapes a unique interest in the modern world.

Speakers and Topics:

This major conference will feature a host of expert national and international speakers highlighting the architectural, cultural, social and economic significance of the five major historic squares of Dublin and their hinterlands. It will showcase their historic evolution through estate planning and management, building speculation and development, public landscape design, and the various international influences that helped shape the now familiar landscape of the city.

It is also recognised that the role of the squares in Dublin is much greater than as an isolated cultural asset, as they also serve as a key social and economic resource for the city at a time of growing environmental awareness and international competition between major urban centres. Much discussion and academic research in recent decades has rightly centred on the historic evolution of the squares, but much less so on their modern-day role as hubs of living, working, leisure and community life.

For the first time in a public forum, this conference aims to stimulate public discussion about the conservation of the built and natural environments of Dublin’s squares through exploring new uses for buildings, reinventing the public realm and promoting new perspectives on the role and design of their public gardens and parks.

It also seeks to explore how the economic and social vitality of the city can be enhanced through changing perceptions about the squares and their attendant streets, reshaping predominately commercial uses on the south side and widespread inadequate residential standards on the north side, into world-class community and commercial centres that innovatively embrace this unique heritage asset.

Conference speakers will assess international best practice of managing streetscape, presenting historic planted landscapes, and financing building and landscape conservation through public and private funding and incentivisation. Please find programme details below.


The conference takes place in the magnificent surroundings of the Pillar Room, the ballroom of the former Assembly Rooms of the Rotunda Hospital on Dublin’s Parnell Square. Begun in 1784 to the designs of architect Richard Johnston, the New Assembly Rooms is one of the forgotten civic complexes of Georgian Dublin – a largely intact, architecturally significant series of public entertaining rooms that originally addressed the Rotunda Pleasure Gardens.

The rooms complemented the earlier round room or Rotunda erected by John Ensor in 1764, but shared a similar purpose of raising revenue for the hospital, playing host to balls, musical events and fashionable society gatherings. The New Assembly Rooms featured a ballroom to the ground floor opening onto the gardens (The Pillar Room), a grand supper room on the first floor (now the auditorium of The Gate Theatre), and a Tea Room at ground floor level (part of which has been subsumed into the entrance of The Gate).

Our choice of location reflects the need to refocus public policy towards the latent resources of the city, in this case the unique heritage asset of Parnell Square with its combination of former public buildings, pleasure grounds and spectacular collection of mid-Georgian town houses. We hope the conference and its venue will reshape perceptions about the value of the North Georgian Core of Dublin and showcase its potential to the wider public.


The conference day includes lunch mid-way through the programme, and tea, coffee and light refreshments in the morning and afternoon.

Access to The Pillar Room is gained via the blue pedestrian gate on Parnell Square East, located immediately adjacent to the new extension to The Gate Theatre. Please note there is no parking available on-site and we encourage all attendees to use public transport where possible. The nearest multi-storey car parks are located a five-minute walk away on Parnell Street and Q Park on Marlborough Street.

How to Book:

To book a place on the conference, please follow this booking link. Two ticket types are available:

ADMIT ONE – €65: This is the standard admission ticket to the conference.

ADMIT ONE PLUS CPD CERTIFICATE – €80: This ticket provides admission plus a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) certificate of attendance at the event, of relevance to professionals including architects, surveyors, planners, engineers and other relevant disciplines. The event will amount to 6 structured CPD points. Please note that due to administrative costs, CPD certificates will not be issued to attendees who opt for the standard admission option.

Dublin Garden Squares Day, Saturday September 14th 2013

Dublin Garden Squares Day, Saturday September 14th 2013Dublin Civic Trust is delighted to announce details of the fourth Dublin Garden Squares Day, taking place on Saturday 14th September 2013. Enjoy expert walking tours, open houses, live performance and children’s events in a fun family day out for all. Walk or cycle between the squares and discover the history of these magnificent urban gardens, their plants and wildlife, the people who once used them and the historic buildings that embrace them.

A series of free events will be held in each of the five Georgian squares – St. Stephen’s Green, Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square on the south side of the river, and Parnell Square and Mountjoy Square on the north side. Events are suitable for all the family and are intended to encourage Dubliners to visit these beautiful public gardens and interact with their history and built and natural heritage.

Among the highlights this year are:
• Historical, architectural and botanical walking tours of each square
• Special access to town houses and public buildings, including the magnificent interiors of Parnell Square
• Rare guided tour of the chapel of the Rotunda Hospital
• Dance and music in St. Stephen’s Green
• Watercolour classes in Fitzwilliam Square and a rare chance to access this private garden in the heart of the city centre
• Music, children’s art and games, and lots more

To make reservations for pre-book only tours, please check the contact details in the programme below. Otherwise, most tours operate on a first-come basis on the day. Early arrival is advised for some tours. DOWNLOAD THE FULL PROGRAMME OF EVENTS HERE.

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