Georgian Dublin ‘needs the wealthy to return’
Fitzwilliam or Merrion Square should be Dublin’s Mayfair
The Dublin Squares conference focused on Dublin’s five Georgian Squares. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons
Wealthy families should repopulate the Georgian mansions of the south inner city, a Dublin Civic Trust conference has heard.
Falling house prices meant once prohibitively costly Georgian town houses in places such as Merrion and Fitzwilliam Squares and Mount Street were once again within the grasp of a certain type of purchaser – generally double-income high earners, said Paul Kearns, a senior planner with the city council.
“Properties which were selling for €4 million are now going for €1 to €1.5 million in the most beautiful part of the city,” he said. “In any other city, these houses would be default choice for the wealthy who want a high-status home.”
Only 7 per cent of buildings were in residential occupation. The Irish Monopoly board equivalent to London’s Mayfair or New York’s Park Lane was Shrewsbury Road, when it should be Fitzwilliam or Merrion Square, he added. “Why does living in a Georgian house need to be considered the choice of the esoteric, alternative or noble, why can’t it just be the choice of the fashionable and rich?”
The Dublin Squares conference focused on Dublin’s five Georgian Squares, Merrion Square, Fitzwilliam Square and St Stephen’s Green in the south city and Parnell Square and Mountjoy Square on the north side. The areas were quite different. In the last census there were fewer than 10 residents on Merrion Square but more than 1,400 on Mountjoy Square, said Garrett Fennell of the Mountjoy Square Society.
“Wealth is not going to come to the north Georgian core and the market is not going to bring about a renewal without assistance,” he said. Buildings had been damaged by being divided into poor-quality flats by owners who just wanted to “sweat the building”, he claimed.