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Temple Bar could have been a bus station but for a 'duplicitous volte face' from the government

It would also feature an underground rail tunnel from Heuston Station to Connolly.

File Photo The Seanad has passed a bill to pave the way for alcohol to be sold on Good Friday The eponymous Temple Bar. Source: RollingNews.ie

A “VOLTE FACE” from the government is to thank for Dublin’s Temple Bar being the place it is today and not a bus station.

The area between Fownes Street and Eustace Street was pegged for a massive Dublin bus station, with a complimentary site on the northside earmarked for Abbey Street between the quays, Liffey Street and Jervis Street.

It would also feature an underground rail tunnel from Heuston Station to Connolly, with stations on either side of the Liffey.

The plan would have made Temple Bar a radically different place, even leaving it without the titular pub.

PastedImage-13157 The section of Temple Bar planned for a bus station. Source: Google Maps

The plan had been around since the 1970s, with CIE buying up property in the area with the view of building the stations, which would be linked by a tunnel which was slated to run under the Liffey.

In 1977, architecture firm Skidmore, Owings & Merrill came up with this design, but delays in financing led CIE to rent out the properrties, largely at nominally rents.

PastedImage-92539 A briefing note on what the stations would entail.

This led to artists and creatives renting spaces and turning the area into a de facto cultural quarter for the area during the 80s, which included the Hirschfield Centre, an openly gay community centre.

Dublin culture blog Come Here To Me quotes journalist Frank McDonald as being vociferously against the plan, writing in 1986:

“[A]ll of this looks like so much pie-in-the-sky. In the first instance, the commercial property market in Dublin is in a state of almost total collapse, with the demand for new office space, not to mention shopping and residential- down to not much more than zero. And secondly, the linchpin of CIE’s scheme – the underground central station for DART – is looking more and more like a pipe-dream.”

Despite the local resistance to the plan, Garrett Fitzgerald’s government took steps to commission a feasibility study on the plan.

Towards the end of 1986 a company called Caneire Investments was contracted to look at the plan and advise on consultancy firms. However, early in 1987 on 7 January, Caneire’s William Halman wrote to the Taoiseach’s department angered at what he felt was a change in the scope and timescale of the proposed assessment study. Halman was responding to a lengthy telex from Government Buildings.

PastedImage-30127

“I am staggered and dismayed with the duplicity displayed by the content of your telex, which when read in conjunction with all of your communications between us since our meetings at the Department of the Taoiseach on 24 – 25 November 1986 leave us sceptical as to the government’s intent.

“Caneire agreed to a study to be undertaken on certain terms. Your latest proposal is a study on different terms with elements reintroduced which were previously proposed by you and rejected by Caneire.

“I remain unable to make an appropriate or adequate response to this volte face, which is a reversal to the former negative position in which Caneire found itself prior to November 24-25.”

Halman would follow that up with another letter saying the company “cannot accept” the study as proposed and seeking agreement on moving forward.

File Photo Dublin City Council to consider bylaws to regulate buskers. A public consultation on Dublin buskers found an overwhelming majority of concerns related to excessive noise, with many participants seeking a ban on amplification. I remember when this was all plans for a mass transit hub. Source: Leon Farrell/Photocall Ireland

But a general election called the following week would see the disagreement moot.

A letter would be issued from the Taoiseach’s department two weeks later which said that while terms of reference could be agreed, the commission of the study would “be more appropriate” for whomever won the subsequent election.

When that turned out to be Fianna Fáil, Charles Haughey set about revamping the area, offering what one developer called “very special tax incentives”. A Dublin City Council vote saw the plan rejected and a massive bus station in the heart of Dublin was dead in the water.

Haughey would bullishly claim that he “wouldn’t let CIE near the place”. In the summer of 1991, the Dáil passed the Temple Bar Renewal and Development Bill which created two state companies, Temple Bar Properties Ltd and Temple Bar Renewal Ltd which were established to oversee the regeneration of the entire area.

CIE would be paid just under £4 million for its properties in the area.

EU funding would lead to the re-cobbling of the streets and pedestrianisation of the area and the bustling tourism destination we see today was born.

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