Tuesday, November 29, 2011

A Quarter Compounder: Proposed Asian Quarter on Parnell Street

I recently attended a lunch-time talk at darc space on the report 'Parnell Street East: A Vision for an Historic City Centre Street' by the Dublin Civic Trust (a brilliant organisation). I know this part of the city pretty well and love the community feel, which is embodied at Ozanam House on Mountjoy Square.

It would be great to see the recommendations of the Dublin Civic Trust report (commissioned by the Dublin City Business Association and Carroll's Gifts and Souvenirs) carried out but in these gloomy times the prospect of even widening the footpaths or tree-planting, let alone large scale refurbishment of the historic buildings and redeveloping the scarred sections of the street, seem unlikely.

GLOOMY: The Georgian architecture of numbers 76 to 78 Parnell Street East is almost hidden under layers of plaster and unsympathetic shopfronts.
Image from the Dublin Civic Trust.
VISION OF THE FUTURE: How the report has re-imagined the three buildings, restoring them to their former glory complete with original door.
Image from the Dublin Civic Trust.

The Asian businesses that have sprung up on the street have brought life and colour to the area, making Parnell Street East a culinary (and karaoke!) hotspot. The area would benefit from being designated as a quarter (not everyone likes the idea of having specific designated quarters in the city, but I believe it has worked well in the case of the Italian Quarter), but should it be an 'Oriental Quarter' as envisaged by the report?

A lady who attended the event suggested that, as Smithfield is set to become a food destination and there is no guarantee that the Asian community will favour the Parnell Street East location in the long-run (Capel Street is another growing centre of Asian cuisine), perhaps we should focus on making it a Literary Quarter instead, given the street's proximity to the James Joyce Museum, the Dublin Writers' Museum, Fighting Words, etc. Indeed, both Asian businesses and literary centres can happily co-exist. Whatever happens, I hope that Parnell Street East will be renewed in the not too distant future.

The report makes for an interesting read, great for a large-scale 'before and after' fix too.


  1. Cool idea! But in the US, many people consider the word "oriental" to be offensive, so maybe "Asian Quarter" is better.

  2. Hi PM! Thank a million for the comment. The term 'Oriental' is used in the report, but I agree that Asian is preferable.