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Friday 8 December 2023 Dublin: 9°C

'It's part of the city’s identity': The man who finds beauty in the Luas Cross City roadworks

We chatted to Thomas Fitzgerald of Streets of Dublin about photographing the Luas Cross City.

JUNE 2013 saw the beginning of the Luas works, uprooting major parts of the city centre to make way for the Cross City project, which links the red and green line together.

Traffic Cones at Stephen's Green Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

While commuters grumbled and city-dwellers were kept awake, photographer Thomas Fitzgerald, who runs The Streets of Dublin photoblog, saw what would become a project – taking photos of the Luas Cross City as it came together.

People wlaking through barriers Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

I thought that [the Luas Cross City] was such an important project, and it would transform the city so much, that it was important to document in some way. I think because the works became so pervasive, and were everywhere, the choice was to be annoyed by it constantly, or try and find something positive about it.

Rosie Hackett Bridge Construction Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

The project came together piece by piece – on his blog, Fitzgerald says that:

It occurred to me that keeping at least some kind of photographic record of the progress might be interesting… I didn’t deliberately set out to document the work on the line, but instead, I just decided that whenever I was passing some of the works, if it looked interesting or told a story I would capture it.

Luas track laying Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

A photographer for over 20 years, Fitzgerald uses his Streets of Dublin project to map out the city’s changes over time.

When you photograph the city, it might seem like capturing a single moment in time, but when you do it long enough, it becomes a timeline, and you can trace the changes and the way the city’s life evolves.

People at Stephens Green Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

Fitzgerald is a big fan of the Luas, and rail transport in general, and as the works lengthened he enjoyed watching it all come together:

 I would find that if I hadn’t been in the city in the areas with the tram line work for a few days, I could be surprised to suddenly find a new section of track or a new section of footpath.

Barricades on Dawson Street for Cross City Luas Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

In late 2017, with the Luas work largely completed, Thomas made a final trip around the city to photograph the testing of the new trams.

 It was such an unusual sight to see the trams running in places that had previously just been regular roads… and looking back now, from where it started, what seemed like it would take forever was over and done with in the blink of an eye.

Luas Testing at Stephen's Green Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

Even if this project had its teething problems, Fitzgerald told us that he thinks it’s a fantastic change for the city.
I was travelling on the new route on one of the days after it opened, and a group of elderly travellers from the north of the city were using it for the first time, and they absolutely loved it. I can see how much of an impact its had when I look back through my archives, and that’s part of why I keep taking photos.

Luas crossing the rosie Hackett Bridge Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

He also sees the Luas as woven into the identity of Dublin now.

Think of how important the Tube and the double-decker bus are to the image of London. The Luas is part of the city’s identity, and since the Cross City extension opened, it has made the city feel smaller and more connected.

Completed luas tracks Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

You can follow The Streets of Dublin on Instagram here, and check out the website here.

Trams being tested on the newly completed tracks Thomas Fitzgerald Thomas Fitzgerald

More: 16 glorious photos that prove spring has finally sprung in Ireland

More: ‘I enjoy capturing those unseen details’: The Kilkenny designer photographing vintage Irish signs

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