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A Charming Quirk

A Charming Quirk

Strolling down Cork Street, one can’t help but notice the intriguing outline of a multi-floored wall adorned with fireplaces. This was once No. 9 Ardee Street on Saint Luke’s Avenue. Gazing up at these relics, one might feel as though they are peering into the lives of past inhabitants, imagining the diverse characters that once occupied these rooms. However, the charm of this unique feature comes tinged with a hint of sadness. In the 1980s, the expansion of the Coombe Bypass, now St. Luke’s Avenue, led to the demolition of No. 9 Ardee Street.

The distinctiveness of Number 9’s corner fireplaces and room outlines remains as a poignant reminder of what once stood there. This peculiar sight has become a whimsical addition to the street, injecting a touch of joy into an area that lacks charm. Cork Street, the majority of which is devoid of much architectural interest, is a mishmash of structures, including what must be the ugliest looking hospital in the city, a hodgepodge of apartment blocks and some dereliction. Plenty of money has flowed into the area around New Market Square  in recent years. Unfortunately, a lot of this has been focused on the building of hotels and a staggering amount of student accommodation.

Amongst this landscape, the remnants of Number 9 serve as a curious window into our social and architectural past. Yet, as plans for new contemporary buildings on this site loom on the horizon, there is a sense of impending loss. Will this delightful quirk be swallowed up by the march of progress, whitewashing more of our city’s charm away? Could this space not be kept and reimagined into an outdoor gallery or a vertical garden, something that would not only bring joy to the neighbourhood but would be one of those delightful quirks that tourists seek out to photograph and adorn their Instagram? In a city world-famous for its artists and poets, maybe it’s an artist’s eye we need to cast over these spaces to come up with solutions for them.

Artists are inherently creative individuals who thrive on thinking outside the box. Unlike bureaucrats, who may be bound by rigid rules and protocols, artists approach problems with a fresh perspective, unencumbered by preconceived notions. This ability to see things differently can lead to innovative solutions. Artists are attuned to the nuances of human emotion and experience, making them well-suited to understanding and empathizing with the needs of communities. In the relentless march of urban development, cities often find themselves at a crossroads between preserving their heritage and embracing modernization. Yet, amidst the rush for progress, there lies a hidden danger: the loss of delightful quirks that lend character and charm to urban landscapes. As bulldozers pave the way for more bland uniform structures, the soul of cities risks being eroded, one quirky detail at a time. But it is these charming idiosyncrasies that serve as tangible links to the past. Be it a curious-looking façade, a hidden alleyway, or an unusual piece of street art, these elements tell stories and add layers of richness to the urban tapestry.

In the relentless pursuit of modernization, these delightful quirks often find themselves in the crosshairs of development and of lazy unimaginative architects who, instead of weaving these features into their designs, opt for total obliteration so they can get on with their same tired old rinse-and-repeat designs. What was once considered a quaint relic of the past becomes viewed as an impediment to progress, a hurdle to be cleared in the race towards urban renewal. Yet, in the rush to erase the old and usher in the new, we risk sacrificing the very essence of our city and its unique identity. The relentless homogenization of urban landscapes threatens to strip cities of their individuality, reducing them to generic replicas devoid of character. In a world where cities increasingly compete for tourism and investment, it is precisely these quirks that set them apart, attracting visitors and fostering a sense of intrigue and discovery. I think there is a growing awareness of the value of heritage preservation amongst Dublin residents, and community engagement has sparked movements to protect and celebrate these delightful quirks. After all what would our city look like today if not for the amazing work from the likes of the Irish Georgian society?

In the end, the true measure of progress lies not in the relentless pursuit of modernization, but in the preservation of what makes cities truly special: their delightful quirks and eccentricities. By embracing these idiosyncrasies and weaving them into the fabric of urban life, cities can retain their soul and ensure that future generations inherit a legacy worth cherishing. After all, in the tapestry of urban life, it is often the smallest details that leave the greatest impression. Until very recently, I believed the destruction of many of our socially and historically significant buildings, the erosion of Dublin nightlife, and the obvious social problems we encounter daily were merely due to bureaucratic ignorance. However, with the new portal between New York and Dublin being placed on North Earl Street, I now think this might be, at best, total incompetence and, at worst, a deliberate attempt to undermine our city and its reputation.

No one could be so out of touch as to place a portal on North Earl Street. Before it was even opened, thousands of Dublin residents voiced their concerns about its location. It seems that the general public is more informed than those that are paid to run the city. How can we trust our city’s future to such wilful ignorance? At its core, bureaucracy aims to establish clear guidelines and procedures for decision-making and resource allocation. However, in practice, it has become a barrier to innovation and adaptation, stifling creativity and hindering agility, where strict adherence to rules and protocols takes precedence over common sense and practicality.

Bureaucratic processes often prioritize hierarchy and protocol over merit and expertise, resulting in inefficiencies and inequities. Decisions are made based on organizational rank rather than competence. Another manifestation of bureaucracy is the tendency to prioritize self-preservation over accountability and transparency. To avoid scrutiny and maintain the status quo, bureaucracies often resort to deflection, concealing failures behind a veil of jargon and procedural complexity where accountability is a hollow promise and incompetence goes unchecked. The inability of bureaucracies to adapt and innovate poses a significant threat to community well-being. Only by holding bureaucracies to the highest standards of integrity and effectiveness can we ensure they serve as instruments of progress rather than obstacles to change.


One Response

  1. Hi Jack. I’ve just read your article entitled “A Charming Quirk”. This is a really well constructed piece, combining fine, descriptive, prose with some incisive personal commentary. You have managed to create some vivid visual imagery on this topic, using precisely the correct lexicon for this type of story. I hope that our readers enjoy reading it, as much as I did. Well done!!! Regards, Aidan.

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