Dublin City’s Lost Cultural Spaces

By Natalie Madden / September 13, 2021

Dublin has been increasingly losing beloved cultural spaces. From clubs to pubs to performance spaces, more and more social and community hubs  around the city have been driven out or torn down. In April of this year Jigsaw on Mountjoy Square, north Dublin, sadly closed its doors. This closure not only forced alternative station Dublin Digital Radio to move their studios to Smithfield, but meant the loss of an important underground cultural space that welcomed queer and experimental clubnights and musical performances. 

April also saw the news that appeals from writers like Colm Tóibín, Sally Rooney and Anne Enright, and from the heritage group An Taisce, couldn’t stop the house rented by James Joyce’s great-aunts in the 1890s from becoming a tourist hostel. Despite being the setting for ‘The Dead’ — which is not only Joyce’s most popular short story, but is held up as one of the finest examples of the short story ever written — Dublin City Council have not tried to purchase the property, instead opting for the hostel plans to move ahead.

Last year we saw the closure of the popular Bernard Shaw on Camden Street. Owners Bodytonic have had to move the business to Drumcondra on the north side because An Bord Pleanála have deemed that the business “would be inconsistent with the emerging pattern of development in the vicinity” and refused to renew its permissions. The Bernard Shaw hosted community events such as flea markets, art exhibitions, poetry and spoken word events, DJ sets, music performances and international nights, as well as giving their space to events supporting activist causes like International Women’s Day, Dublin Pride, Repeal The Eighth and many more.  download

The Tivoli Theatre in Dublin 8 was demolished in 2018 to build a five-storey, 289-bed ‘aparthotel.’ The performance venue’s demolition meant that its resident club night District 8 was forced to move to Airside Retail Park in Swords, Co. Dublin. The Long Stone pub, popular with tourists and college students due to its location on College Green, was also demolished that year after 254 years of business, to make room for a 21-storey office complex.

This is an issue that is getting more and more attention as more and more important spaces are closed. Our capital is starting to feel a lot more like a city of hotels, a city for tourists. Sunil Sharpe, DJ and founder of the campaign collective  Give Us The Night, says that “flimsy planning laws and an unimaginative vision for Dublin are allowing developers to come in and have their way with the city, and alter it beyond repair. We must urgently call time on all of these hotel and student accommodation developments; it’s too much now plus there’s a very strong chance that many of these hotels will struggle as they reach saturation point.” The collective No More Hotels released a 20-minute documentary exploring the idea of clubbing as culture and why it’s important at the beginning of the year, part of their ongoing effort to save these spaces and allow the public to realise their importance to the city.

Dublin Cultural Spaces lost

Though pubs have finally reopened and sporting events like the All-Ireland can go ahead again, nightclubs, festivals and live performance events are still being curtailed by restrictions. Cultural industries are still struggling. The government plans to have all restrictions lifted by October 22nd, but if this is pushed back, who knows how many more spaces we’ll lose?

Are you worried about the closure of these spaces? Let us know in the comments what you think!

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Natalie Madden

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