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Thursday 7 December 2023 Dublin: 11°C
Michael Pidgeon The view from inside the Iveagh Markets.

Iveagh Markets 'urgent' repair work not set to begin until late 2024

The work will focus on securing the crumbling structure rather than fully renovating it for reuse purposes.

REPAIR WORK ON the rundown Iveagh Markets in Dublin’s Liberties – described as “urgent” by housing minister Darragh O’Brien – will commence sometime late next year, according to the Department of Housing, Local Government and Heritage. 

The projected timeline, confirmed to The Journal, has been criticised by local campaigners and councillors, who say they had hoped the protected structure would be secured before another winter could do more damage.

Last week the department announced it would “in principle” provide €9 million to go towards carrying out works to secure the Edwardian building, which has fallen into disrepair after being left vacant and derelict for decades.

The work will focus on securing the crumbling structure rather than fully renovating it for reuse purposes, the department said. 

“Some of the more significant works will include reconstruction of the floor area, repair of the roof and external walls, including the rebuilding of demolished sections of brickwork,” a statement from the department said.

“The priority is to prevent further deterioration of this Protected Structure. Following completion of the essential stabilisation and repair work, this significant part of the city’s architectural heritage will be secured, allowing DCC to develop long term sustainable proposals for its reuse in the future.”

In a statement, the council said: 

“An initial work programme of clearance, propping and making safe will be undertaken in the coming months. This will provide secure access to all areas of the structure for investigation and surveys.”

The funding from government will make up 75% of the project’s €12 million projected cost while Dublin City Council will pay for the other 25%. 


The announcement of the funding and planned repairs – described as “urgent” by housing minister Darragh O’Brien – was met with enthusiasm from local councillors and conservation campaigners.

However, the news that the project will not get underway until late 2024 has come as a disappointment for some. 

“It’s welcome but decades overdue,” says local Sinn Féin councillor Máire Devine, adding that the site had been “deliberately neglected” and that DCC needed to “get it done ASAP”. 

“I thought they would save its fragile structure from another winter but no. Hopefully we have a mild winter and damage will be kept to a minimum. It should be more urgent than they have scheduled for.”

“It’s a bloody miracle that it is still standing,” she said, while laying the blame for the building’s condition at the feet of the Council.

“The lack of foresight, attention, the legal wrangling and frankly disinterest by DCC has been appalling and has led to its sorry state.”

Labour Party Councillor Darragh Moriarty shares Devine’s frustration at the projected timeline. 

According to Moriarty, in February of this year councillors received a memo from the DCC executive stating they had “directed immediate commencement” of stabilisation works to protect the markets.

“Now we have a further announcement, nearly nine months later, stating that funding has been allocated ‘in principle’ – whatever that means – to get on with these ‘urgent conservation works’,” he says. 

“The funding, of course, is to be welcomed, but maybe their understanding of the words ‘immediate’ and ‘urgent’ are different to mine – because the sum total of nothing has actually happened by way of getting workers on site to stabilise the Iveagh Markets, which has been let rot and decay before our eyes in act of sheer vandalism.”

He praised the work of locals and campaigners in keeping the issue alive but lamented the lack of urgency from those in power. 

“Tribute must be paid to the local community and heritage activists who have kept this on the agenda, but despite their ongoing efforts, we don’t have a clear timeline beyond the fact that we’re told it’ll be 2024 before the stablisation works themselves actually begin.

“While people talk of urgency and immediacy, the state, whether local authority level or central Government, seem utterly incapable of actually acting upon those words.”

Noel Fleming of the heritage group Friends of the Iveagh Markets said that he was “delighted” by last week’s announcement but that another winter would bring threats to the structure. 

“Our group, all we’re interested in is getting the remedial work done to save the building from collapsing, pure and simple,” he says. 

He is optimistic that the repair work will begin sooner than later next year.

“I hope it will be because we said last year that the roof wouldn’t withstand another winter. If it gets a heavy fall of snow, that roof will come down.”

Uncertain future

The Iveagh Markets site has been the focus of an ongoing legal dispute between several parties, including developer Martin Keane, Lord Iveagh, and Dublin City Council.

Lord Iveagh, Arthur Edward Rory Guinness, repossessed the market in 2020 citing the “reversionary” clause in the purchase agreement, which allowed the Guinness family to reclaim it if it was not developed as a functioning market. 

Keane, who owns the Oliver St. John Gogarty pub and Blooms Hotel in Temple Bar, has challenged the Guinness family’s claim to the property and the case has been in legal dispute ever since.

Dublin City Council secured the site last year amid concerns over its deteriorating condition. 

In a statement, the council said: 

“Dublin City Council is involved in a number of legal proceedings in relation to the Iveagh Markets which are currently before the courts. As such, the Council is unable to make any further comment as the matter is sub judice.”

The council said it has now appointed Howley Hayes Cooney Architects to lead an “integrated design team”, who will begin surveying and preparing the site and issuing  tender for construction work “in the coming weeks”.

For Green Party councillor Michael Pidgeon, the funding is a “game-changer” that ensures the future of the markets, however the site ends up being used. 

“The funding is a gamechanger for the Iveagh Markets. The building has crumbled while the legal dispute continues, so my top priority has been to secure funds to fix the roof and stabilise the structure,” he says. 

“Visiting the site last year, you could see the incredible grandeur and potential of the building. The disrepair is so clear, with bits of the roof swinging off and large ponds formed inside.

“There will be plenty of conversations about the kind of future the Iveagh Markets will have, but this funding ensures that the markets will have any future at all.

“We need to get this done as soon as possible, as winter is always a challenge for buildings like this. Dublin City Council are locked in a legal battle to secure ownership of the site. It’s good that we’re not waiting for the courts to protect this gem of a building.”

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