Concern Over Barrow Street Future, and A Window on DCC Past

Compiled by Dermot Carmody

At the March meeting of the DCC South East Area Committee (SEAC), councillors were given a presentation by DCC engineer Derek Dixon outlining the proposed extensive works on Barrow Street, the costs of which would jointly be met by the council and Google, which owns many buildings on the street. The proposal relates to the entire length of Barrow Street, which runs between Ringsend Road and Grand Canal Street Upper. Dixon told councillors that the current proposals arise from an extension of a previously approved Part 8 planning permission for a third of the street from 2012. The street has changed greatly in the intervening years, with the Bolans Mill project nearing completion meaning the formerly industrial west side of Barrow Street will now be office/residential and retail space in buildings mostly owned by Google. The budget for the joint proposal from DCC and Google to “enhance the Public Realm” along the entire street is estimated at €8 million. Under the proposal the main vehicular carriageway would be reduced with the footpaths being extensively widened with extensive use of modular stone materials, pedestrian crossways, increased pay and display parking, charging points for electric vehicles, 40 bike parking stands and 26 Dublin Bike stands. Landscape architecture firm Gustafson, Porter and Bowman were engaged by DCC and Google to come up with a plan to improve the planting on the street, described by Dixon as “non-existent” at the moment, and to incorporate sustainable urban drainage into the scheme. Planting, including up to 20 trees, will be done using innovative methods of over-planting over the existing combined sewer. The plan also includes extensive lower level planting with the planters designed to absorb surface water at most normal rainfall levels, leading to an easing of pressure on the existing drainage systems. There was a mixed response to the plans from councillors. Green Party Councillor Clare Byrne enthusiastically welcomed the scheme, noting that usage of the street would increase greatly when the Bolands Mill project was complete and welcoming the extensive greenery and sustainable drainage elements. Cllr. Byrne thought the design was great and would give a “modern feel” to the area. She welcomed the increased bike parking and proposed new lighting and seating which would make the space more inviting and usable. There was, however, unease from some others about the joint nature of the proposal with Google. Independent Councillor Mannix Flynn said he had been concerned about what he called “the erosion of the neighbourhood” since Google arrived in the area. He said the area was beginning to look more like a Google complex in San Jose. He described Google as having taken over the area by stealth and, while welcoming some of the improvements involved, questioned for whose benefit the changes were being made and asked “Who’s leading this project?” Cllr Flynn ended by saying he would hate to see Part 8 Planning used to facilitate corporate entities, “particularly the likes of Google.” Cllr Tara Deasy shared some of Cllr. Flynn’s concerns, questioning if this was part of a Local Area plan and asking when it was initiated and by whom. In response Derek Dixon said this was a DCC project with Google contributing to the cost. The actual cost of the scheme would not be known until the job was eventually tendered and negotiations over the portion funding to be provided by Google was ongoing. Google paid for the design consultancies used to this point. The plan goes to public consultation on Wednesday 23rd March until May 6th. The idea is to enhance the public realm for both residents and users of the street. Dixon said that if this was successful it could become a way of expanding enhancement of the public realm in other cases in the future. Minutes from First Meetings of DCC Digitised For those with a very keen interest in the workings of Dublin City Council, or in the history of the city itself there is now the opportunity to read the original handwritten minutes of all its meetings from 1841-1881. The notes were bound in large volumes and are curated by Dublin City Archives. They’ve now been digitised in a joint project by Dublin City Library and the Digital Repository of Ireland and are available free to anyone to view online For over 150 years, Dublin City Council has met on the first Monday of every month, with meetings now streamed and the minutes available online. It was very different on Monday 1st November 1841 when the Council met at the City Assembly House in South William Street and Daniel O’Connell was elected as the first Roman Catholic Lord Mayor. O’Connell’s election as Lord Mayor in 1841 was made possible by the granting of the vote to all ratepayers with a property valuation of £10, and not just members of the Church of Ireland. Speaking about the minutes, Dublin City Librarian Mairead Owens remarked: “We in Dublin City Libraries are proud custodians of the records of Dublin Corporation going right back to the middle ages. When you see the handwritten minutes of these meetings, with Daniel O’Connell’s very own signature at the bottom of the page, the history of the City comes to life before your eyes. We are delighted to be making these important documents freely available via the DRI, so that the inside story of Dublin and its government can be read by people all over the world.” The 40 years of minutes cover the development of Dublin City Council as it gradually took over the functions and property of other organisations, such as the Wide Streets Commission and the Paving Board. These tell the story of the many changes which took place over the period, including the establishment of Dublin Fire Brigade in 1862; the improvement of the City’s water supply with the opening of the Vartry Reservoir at Roundwood, in 1868, and the building of social housing from 1875 onwards. In addition to making this manuscript collection accessible through digitisation, members of the public can take part in a project to transcribe the minutes as part of Transcription Week, from 28th March to 1st April 2022. The documents can be viewed online at