Is Dublin 8 the new gay village?
Shabby chic streets, cosmopolitan residents and an ‘old Dublin’ setting make Dublin 8 different and attractive for many gays
Figures released by the General Register Office show that more than half of those civilly partnered live in Dublin, and among those the majority have addresses in Dublin 8. *
The area’s edgy cosmopolitan vibe is attracting gay residents.
Encompassing sometimes shabby and sometimes chic neighbourhoods from Portobello to Dolphin’s Barn, from Inchicore to Christchurch, this postal code is nothing if not colourful. Home to two cathedrals, the Dublin Mosque, the Irish Jewish Museum, a brewery and some of the most deprived social housing schemes in Europe, these are streets of every social class, colour and creed.
It’s this mix that Jim Maguire likes so much. “It’s much more cosmopolitan and it’s much more multicultural,” says the Rehoboth Place resident. On an almost secret street with a near hidden entrance off South Circular Road, Maguire lives here with Philip Cohen. The couple, together since 2006, celebrated their civil partnership in May.
“The key words are ‘comfortable’ and ‘cosmopolitan’,” says Cohen. “We wouldn’t feel comfortable in say, Terenure. It’s a very nice area with very nice houses and it’s very safe, but it’s not us, it’s not gay people. This street is full of all sorts of different households. We fit in because everybody is different.”
Living on the edge of the city centre, the pair have their pick of theatres, cinemas and restaurants. “We don’t have kids, we don’t have to eat at certain times; we can be spontaneous. Living here suits us,” says Maguire. Taking the Luas to his communications job near the O2, while Cohen, head of library services at DIT walks to work, they don’t use a car and simply rent one when they need it.
Maguire bought the house before he emigrated in the 1980s. Built in 1892, he says the street itself dates from 17th century when a rich merchant built homes for his family.
Living abroad for 20 years, Maguire returned in 2003. “It seemed like a good time to move back. The country I had left had been transformed. I came back to this place where you walked down the street and people were speaking Spanish and Polish and it was perfectly normal. That didn’t exist before.”
Working with Paris-based Irish architect Patrick Mellet, Maguire gutted the house and made it his own. Independent TD Mick Wallace was his builder. “When I came home, I couldn’t find things like interesting sinks, or taps or lamps. Everything is sourced from abroad; we came home from Paris with two 40ft containers of furniture.”
The resulting almost gallery-like space, with polished industrial flooring in the main reception room, is stark. “When you walk through the front door, you don’t expect this. The other reaction is, ‘it’s very impressive, but I couldn’t live in it’. For some it’s too stark. I wanted straight lines and curved furniture. I wanted the colour to be on the walls – I like buying paintings and I wanted somewhere to show them off. This allows me to do that.”
The only concession to curves is a Milanese gun-metal grey couch that twists into a myriad of new forms. The curtain and blind-free windows, subtly mirrored on the outside, give light and privacy while providing an unobstructed view of the theatre on the street. “Very often people come by and touch up their make-up in the reflection,” says Maguire.