Is Dublin 8 the new gay village?
Only after renovations were complete did Maguire meet Cohen. “This is Jim’s house,” says Cohen. “I’m very conscious that I moved into Jim’s house.” And so an architect has been commissioned to adapt the space to better reflect both tastes – plans include a new kitchen, a study for Cohen and the landscaping of their 90ft garden.
But whatever about the interiors, Dublin 8, with its rough and its smooth, is home.
“There is something mono-cultural about middle-class Dublin,” says Maguire. “And also I think if you don’t have children and you don’t have school runs, it’s very difficult to integrate into all of that. I like that there are people walking by here in Asian dress or speaking different languages. I love all that. This is home.”
Dublin 8 is also home to Nathalie Weadick and Carla Killeen. The couple share a rented home on Emerald Square, just off Cork Street. They are seeking a place to buy and redesign or even a site on which to build, also in Dublin 8.
“I think people in this area are more open, more relaxed,” says Killeen. “Everybody lets everybody do their own thing.”
Weadick, a director of the Irish Architecture Foundation and a board member of Gay and Lesbian Equality Network, thinks Dublin 8 is not just attractive to gay people but to those different in lots of ways. “Around Christchurch is the first Dublin settlement but it’s also where new communities have chosen to settle – Muslim families, the Jewish community, but alongside that there’s ‘old Dublin’.”
“Unlike say Dublin 4, over time Dublin 8 has been renewed. It’s always changing, it’s always fluid, whereas Dublin 4 is what it is. It’s very white, very middle-class.”
Designed by Killeen’s friend architect Luke Wojtaskiewicz, he transformed the traditional two-up, two-down house they rent by adding a contemporary open-plan kitchen and living area, another bedroom/study and a bathroom
“It’s like a tardis,” says Weadick. “From the front of the house, it doesn’t look like a contemporary house, but when you walk in it was a revelation.” The pair are also tickled by the fact that beyond the spacious garden to the rear was a knicker factory.
Loving the peace and neighbourliness of the square, they are also struck by the number of design related enterprises rooted in their postcode including architects, framers, the National College of Art and Design, the Irish Museum of Modern Art and design collective, Fumbally Exchange. Killeen has co-founded her own design business, Catalyst DNA on Harrington Street here too.
Weadick doesn’t think it’s necessarily gay people who have brought the creativity to Dublin 8. “That just happens when neighbourhoods are open to diversity, and some neighbourhoods aren’t.” Meanwhile the search is on for a site around Dublin 8,” says Weadick. “It’s gritty and it’s not manicured and I love that.”
* This article was edited on November 1st, 2012, to correct a factual error.