Dublin City Council launches details of Parnell Square Cultural Quarter – a new Cultural District for Dublin City

Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí today announced details of a visionary new project for Dublin city: the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter. The development will involve the construction of a new and innovative Dublin City Library on the site of Colaiste Mhuire on Parnell Square.  The new City Library and the existing spectacular Hugh Lane Gallery will be connected by a civic plaza, creating a new intercultural district for Dublin.

The project will fulfil the City’s ambitions for a ‘Civic Spine’ connecting the capital’s key historic places. It will be a new public landmark that will inspire physical and economic renewal. Seed capital for the project is being provided by international real estate investment and services company, Kennedy Wilson on a philanthropic basis. The company, which has its main European office in Dublin, will also lead further required fund raising and provide expertise to assist in management of the development. Preliminary estimates for the full development cost are €60m. Public consultation to explore how the cultural quarter can realise its potential for positive impact will commence shortly.

Lord Mayor Naoise Ó Muirí said: “Parnell Square is the first and finest of Dublin’s Georgian Squares, the area has a rich and important history with philanthropic origins. This bold and visionary project can act as a catalyst for regeneration across the city, drawing Dubliners and visitors of all ages in new directions and creating new business opportunities. We will be drawing on the energy of local stakeholders to achieve this ambition. The communities, local employers and cultural and public institutions in the district can all play a part in making Dublin’s north Georgian district great again with safer streets, great public spaces and a thriving culture of learning, creativity and business. I am delighted to be announcing details of this exciting project for Dublin city, and thank Kennedy Wilson for the company’s support in helping us actualise this vision for Dublin. Today I invite all citizens to participate in a public consultation process to ensure that this will be a cultural space for all Dubliners and visitors to Dublin.”

Dublin City Manager John Tierney said: ‘’ this project represents a powerful opportunity and catalyst for the redevelopment of this part of Northside Dublin.  Dublin City Council is looking forward to working in partnership with Kennedy Wilson and with all the other stakeholders in bringing this major project to fruition.’’

Peter Collins, managing director, Kennedy Wilson Europe said: “Parnell Square has a long association with philanthropy; the Rotunda Maternity Hospital, Britain and Ireland’s first public maternity hospital, built by Dr. Bartholomew Mosse in the 18th century was financed by private donations. Kennedy Wilson is proud to continue this philanthropic heritage through our involvement with this visionary development for Dublin city. As a company we are committed to supporting public projects in the cities in which we are based, that will have a genuine positive impact on the residents of those cities. In addition to providing the seed capital for the project, Kennedy Wilson will be leading the further fund raising effort to secure the finances to deliver this exciting initiative and to help manage the project throughout its development. Kennedy Wilson is committed to providing a lasting legacy for the people of Dublin, and we are delighted to be partnering with the City in the creation of a new cultural district for Dublin City.”

Dublin City Architect, Ali Grehan said: “The Parnell Square Cultural Quarter will be at the heart of the cultural life of the capital, connecting and consolidating the Civic Spine which is a cornerstone of city development policy.

The Civic Spine is a route which includes the Grafton Street and Henry Street prime retail areas, important third level institutions and major cultural and tourism destinations. The Parnell Square Cultural Quarter will be a landmark destination which will complete the Spine at its northern end and will be the connector for extending this route north into the new Dublin Institute of Technology campus at Grangegorman. It will appeal to people of all ages with a particular emphasis on creative opportunities for young people. The development will be a fusion of contemporary and historic architecture unique to Dublin.”

Dublin City Librarian Margaret Hayes, said:  ‘’I welcome the potential to realise the city’s long held ambition of providing a new city library for the people of Dublin. A space to learn, create and participate will bring 21st century services to children and families, learners and researchers, readers and writers, workers and businesses. The project represents an investment in people and communities, a positive contribution to creating economic, social and cultural advantage and well being.  The new City library and other Cultural activities  will extend over the entire Colaiste Mhuire site offering new  open flexible spaces together with more intimate learning and meeting spaces in the houses fronting Parnell Square. A welcoming entrance foyer will be created directly onto Parnell Square’’.

The Parnell Square Cultural Quarter project will see the development of a new city library on the site of Colaiste Mhuire, the re-development of the former Colaiste Mhuire buildings to form the entrance to the new City library and the provision of public rooms for a variety of cultural uses – from music, media, craft and design. 20-21 Parnell Square will also form part of the cultural complex and a pedestrian plaza at the north end of Parnell Square will create new public events space in front of the cultural buildings.

Arrangements are being made for the transfer of the former Coláiste Mhuire from the Office of Public Works to Dublin City Council. We wish to thank the OPW for their great co-operation in helping to make the project a reality. Dublin City Council is the owner of the Hugh Lane gallery situated between the Colaiste Mhuire buildings and Numbers 20-21 Parnell Square. It is intended that the Hugh Lane gallery will form part of the overall Parnell Square Cultural offering and it will be significantly enhanced and its role and impact expanded by the development of this new City Library/Cultural Centre.

The public is being encouraged to participate in the consultation process around the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter. A series of public meetings and workshops are being planned to help develop a shared understanding of the expectations and needs of all stakeholders; from individuals, community groups, and public representatives to cultural promoters, educational institutions and businesses. These meetings will take place in tandem with the commissioning of the design and will inform the final design brief.

The public will be able to get further information at www.dublincity.ie or  parnellsquare@dublincity.ie  or calling + 1 222 3389 (Ms Diane Dixon, Culture Recreation and Amenity Department).