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Iveagh Markets from Jurassic Park to Convent Garden?


Iveagh market 1

(Image Credit Irish Times) 

Iveagh Markets from Jurassic Park to Convent Garden?

In this article Eoghan Brunkard talks about the proposals for the rejuvenation of the Iveagh Markets

The Iveagh Markets have long resembled a set from Jurassic Park, covered with weeds, plants and well, ivy (no pun intended).  If any writer desired a believable location for a horror story in “turn of the century” Dublin, then truly this place would be fit for purpose (about all it was fit for). That would seem to be about to change as after decades of decline and multiple attempts to revive its fortunes, the market’s floorboards will once again groan and creak under the weight of new customers.

The Iveagh Market was built by the Iveagh Trust, initially as part of the Guinness Family’s social contribution to the area.  It was initiated as compensation for street traders, who were moved out of the area north of St Patrick’s Cathedral, where Lord Iveagh had established a park in 1901.  The market comprised of two parts, a “wet” back, which dealt primarily with foodstuffs while the front dealt clothing and craft produce.  Designed by Frederick G. Hicks of St Thomas Church of Ireland (Cathal Brugha Street) and the Royal Irish Academy of Music Fame, the building is a distinct Georgian icon of the Liberties.


Iveagh market 1969

(Iveagh Market 1969)

It fell into decline in the 1980s and then disuse in the 1990s. The successful Temple Bar publican Martin Keane (owner of Oliver St John Gogarty, Blooms Hotel etc) secured a 500 year lease in 1997.  Mr Keane has stated that he sees the project as a life ambition to return the market to its former glory, indeed, to surpass the original.  However, as is an all too familiar narrative, the economic downturn and entwined with legal trouble placed all such plans on hold until now.


Iveagh market 2

(Artist interpretation of the New Iveagh Market)

This spring a €90 million redevelopment of the site is to begin creating 400 construction jobs, with another 600 permanent jobs (including traders) after its grand reopening in 2017.  The redevelopment will see the market hold stalls dealing specifically in Irish produce (Food, Clothing & Craft), a restaurant, an underground craft brewery (impressive) and an exhibition/performance area.  Also as part of the scheme the neighbouring former “Mother Redcaps” pub will be converted into a 79 bedroom hotel, which is ideally located for a number of immediate Dublin tourist attractions. (Source Irish Times)


Iveagh market

(Image Credit Lovin Dublin)

Following from discussions I have had with people who live in the area, I can see two points of view emerging from the announced plans. One set believes that this is excellent news, illustrating a turnaround in our economic fortunes and creating jobs as well as “bringing the area up”.  While the other point of view articulates a fear that the upscale nature of the market proposals mean that it will be preclusive (both in rates for traders and prices for customers) for locals of the area.  This would go against the initial ethos of the market, which was originally designed for the general public. By which I mean, not pricey, upper middle class, “Malahide esque” craft shopping (no offense to Malahide, keep on rocking).

That may sound a little chippy on the shoulder but it is none the less a concern, particularly if rates are too high as too include local traders, which would be a great loss to the area and to the market.  Indeed, Mr Martin is on the record as saying he wants the Iveagh Markets to be “an Irish version of Convent Garden” (Source Irish Times). The Bohemian nature of Convent Garden can be achieved but that means low rates to make it affordable to the small artisan stall.  That goal is a commendable one, as it brings eccentricity in produce to what could be an otherwise banal, Aran Shawl, smelly candles and Wicklow Jam affair. 

All told, the place is currently falling in on itself it needs redevelopment or we will certainly lose it.  The area also has a high unemployment rate.  I would argue that it is far too early to pronounce judgement on this idea. The proposal has far more definite positives then perceived negatives. Taken with the soon to be established distilleries and the ever popular Green Door Market on Newmarket Square, these projects may bring a lot of outside custom and tourism to the area.  We can all only hope that this will have a knock on affect on the smaller businesses and local employment in the surrounding environs.  




2 Responses

  1. Jen Winder-Baggot says:

    The artist’s impression has chopped off the top! It must have a preservation order on it. I do hope the final thing is not one bit like the artist’s impression.

  2. Admin says:

    I believe it does have a preservation order on it. May its just a weird perspective the artist was coming at it from.

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