Thursday, March 15, 2012

Dublin's Creative Quarter: A capital idea

Back in the rare 'aul times, Dublin was made up of designated city trade quarters all but forgotten today, save for street names such as Fishamble Street, Copper Alley and Winetavern Street.

Today, there's the newish Italian quarter built on the north quays by Mick Wallace and a long-standing Antique Quarter on Francis Street in the west inner city, while Temple Bar is the Cultural Quarter.

Now the area around South Great George's Street and South William Street will be designated the Creative Quarter. The Dublin City Business Improvement District (BID) is behind the move and describe the area as "a hub of innovation which hosts an exceptional array of designer boutiques, creative businesses and plenty more".

ARCADE ADMIRE: The beautiful facade of the George's Street Arcade, now part of the city's Creative Quarter, as designated by the Dublin City Business Improvement District. Image: Alison Cornford-Matheson/Dreamtimes

HUB OF CREATIVITY: South Great George's Street (the red A balloon) and South William Street to the right. Image: Google Maps

Among the design businesses in the Creative District are Designist (68 South Great George's Street, next door to Brasserie Sixty6) and Article, which has just moved into a stunning new space on the ground floor of the Powerscourt Centre, South William Street. The area has attracted a number of independent businesses, from deli and bakery Lolly and Cooks in Victorian wonder George's Street Arcade, to the recently opened Irish fashion store Blind Tiger Collective, featured previously on Mo Theach, on South William Street.

I LIKE MY TEA TWEET: #LoveDublin mugs designed by, a store in Dublin's newly designated Creative Quarter, as part of a collaboration with Le Cool Dublin. The mugs are inspired by tweets under #LoveDublin and designed by Donal Thornton. There are three mugs (€10 each) to choose from, 'Walk of Shame', 'Mix Tweets' and 'Mug of Tea'. 

According to BID, this area was once Dublin's original garment district, where specialist design thrived. Fashionistas of the 18th century flocked to these furriers, dress-makers, glove-makers and couture coat manufacturers.

A number of events, part of the St. Patrick's Festival, are taking place tomorrow, Friday March 16th, to launch the Creative District. These include the launch of Project A Apparel as part of the Blind Tiger Collective (12pm-2pm) and a lecture by fashion historian Ruth Griffin on local fashion history in Om Diva Boutique on Drury Street (6pm).

One I'd love to go is Scribble Dublin at the Designist store at 68 South Great George's Street (6pm-8pm) featuring Irish company Klickity's scribble frames. Mark Flood (see his work on David Mc William's Punk Economics videos) will be on illustrator duties, designs from other top illustrators will be auctioned and there will be a gigantic version of Klickity's scribble frame to get your picture taken in.

CITY SCRIBB': Poster for tomorrow's Scribble Dublin event at Designist on South Great George's Street. Image:

Other events (taking place between 6pm and 8pm) are a celebration of Irish food to be held in Fallon and Byrne and a 'Meet the Designers' evening as part of the festival of Irish Design featuring Project 51 in association with the Crafts Council of Ireland. Designers include Geraldine Murphy of Saba Jewellery.

I'd love to see more designated districts in Dublin. Some ideas related to my local area include:

The Brewery Quarter: The Guinness Storehouse is among the most visited tourist attractions in the country, yet the surrounding streets are dead and many buildings derelict. The area already has lots to offer in the form of the Digital Hub, NCAD, Vicar Street, local businesses such as Manning's Bakery and the newly-opened Arthur's. It would be great to see the huge Georgian buildings on James Street currently up for let occupied and the old Victorian market buildings in the area rescued from decay.

A BREW LEASE OF LIFE? The old Guinness windmill, now surrounded by the Digital Hub on James' Street. It would be great to see a Brewery Quarter developed for tourists and locals alike.
STEP BACK INTO TIME: Kilmainham Gaol, a must-see Dublin visiter attraction. If you're walking from the Guinness Storehouse, don't expect clear signage to help you find it.

The Gaol/Military Quarter: Hundreds of tourists walk each day from the Guinness Storehouse to Kilmainham Gaol, often missing the small sign for the turn at Bow Lane, and walking past St. James' Hospital and often up into Inchicore, as there is no sign for the Gaol at the junction of Old Kilmainham and South Circular Road. (The most scenic route is to walk down James' Street, then at the triangle in the centre of the road, take the road in the middle, Bow Lane West, which continues onto Kilmainham Lane, then it's at the top of this road).

Kilmainham also has the Irish Museum of Modern Art at the Royal Hospital and the War Memorial Gardens, along with Clancy Barracks (part of a late Celtic Tiger development site and currently being used as a filming location). It would be great to see the area more geared to tourists, with perhaps a special trail like they have in Boston, from the Brewery Quarter, for example.

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