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Dublin: 10 °C Saturday 25 October, 2014

Georgian cellars to be filled in during Luas Cross City construction

The Irish Georgian Society described the move as a “further erosion” of the context of Dublin’s Georgian heritage.

GEORGIAN CELLARS ARE to be filled in as part of the construction of the Luas Cross City line.

Donough Cahill, executive director of the Irish Georgian Society (IGS), told TheJournal.ie that the move was a “further erosion” of the context of Dublin’s Georgian heritage.

The cellars under today’s pavements were used during the Georgian era (which spanned 1714 – 1830), and typically held coal. The coal was poured in using openings on the streets, which are still visible today.

Photo: Railway Procurement Agency

Dublin City Council (DCC) has been told by the Railway Procurement Agency that as part of the Luas Cross City works, the cellars will be filled in. Before this takes place, they will be excavated by archaeologists and the information they gather will be fully recorded.

The work will begin following building condition surveys. Among the areas where the cellars are located are Marlborough St, and Parnell St. Work is being rolled out as part of the Luas Cross City works and DCC was informed about the plans at this week’s central area committee meeting.

The works will include the investigation and infilling of cellars along the route. The cellars are coal bunkers or vaulted cellars associated with Georgian buildings around the city, and though in some instances such cellars have been demolished, others are lying empty or being used as storage units.

Around 300 properties have been surveyed as part of the preparation for the Luas Cross Line construction and 25 known cellars will be impacted by the works – but there are potentially 400 unknown cellars, the council was told.

The cellars will be filled in to house utilities that need to be kept out of the way of the Luas track.

Photo: Railway Procurement Agency

The IGS’s Cahill told TheJournal.ie said that “sadly it’s something that happened beforehand, when the previous Luas track was being built on Harcourt St”. He said that the justification for it at the time was that it was necessary to provide support for the increased loads that were going be going over the area.

Cahill said the cellar infilling was “a further erosion” of the context of these 18th century cellars, which represent a very specific time in Irish history.

During the planning process, the IGS made a submission regarding the proposed Luas route. “The focus of our submission was on the impact of the overhead power cables,” said Cahill. The society said that as College Green is “one of the principal set pieces of Dublin city” in terms of its architectural significance, its importance as a world heritage city would be compromised by overhead power cables.

The society suggested the use of underground cables. Permission was granted for overhead power cables on the Luas line, which is similar to what was used when trams first ran in the city. “It’s not a modern phenomenon,” pointed out Cahill.

Photo: Railway Procurement Agency

The IGS welcomes the introduction of an improved transport system in Dublin, particularly the joining of the existing Luas lines, but Cahill said he believes that every effort should be made to ensure that impact of the Luas is minimised.

He added that though many of the cellars are not used now, potentially a use could have been found for them in the future.

Read: Negotiations ongoing over future of Number 29 Georgian museum>

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