Hotspots: from Canal Basin to techie haven
This formerly down-at-heel part of Dublin 4 has been transformed into what has been dubbed the Tech Quarter, or Googletown. So what is it like to live there, who are the neighbours and what’s for sale (clue: family three-beds are rare)
Grand Canal Dock. Photograph: Eric Luke
Ross Staunton of Food Game, on South Lotts Road, Ringsend. Photograph: Eric Luke
98 Hanover Dock
46 Doris Street, Ringsend, Dublin 4
11 Block A, Gallery Quay, Grand Canal Dock, Dublin 2
The Tech Quarter, also known as Googletown, is a quadrant bordering Grand Canal Street, Macken Street, Sir John Rogerson’s Quay and South Lotts Road. While in part a Dublin 4 address, the area was once down at heel. In 1981 the Grand Canal Basin served as a backdrop to the cover of U2’s second album, October, with the scene put to motion in the video for Gloria, their second single from the album. Today the scene is unrecognisable, save for glimpses of the Factory music studios and Boland’s Mills.
“The area has utterly changed, from not having anywhere to buy a pint of milk to becoming a cosmopolitan quarter where you have to take a ticket and queue to drink in the views from the Rooftop Bar at the Marker Hotel,” says estate agent Owen Reilly, himself a resident who has been living on Forbes Quay for six years.
Now home to the offices of Facebook, Google and Twitter, U2’s strong association with the area continues. They have a studio on Hanover Quay and, together with starchitect Norman Foster, put forward a design for a tower in 2007/2008 that divided opinion on what would have been Ireland’s tallest building. While the recession iced those plans, Google maps references the building that never was.
Development isn’t finished, says Reilly. “The North Lotts/Grand Canal Docks has been designated a SDZ (strategic development zone), which will fast track planning.”
What residents say
“The area feels vibrant because a lot of the residents are in their 20s,” says Ross Staunton, who runs Food Game on South Lotts Road. “They have no commitments and spend all their pay packet every month.”
Amanda Duesund (27), from Bergen, Norway, is one such resident. She has been living in the Tech Quarter for 12 months. The Nordic client partner at Facebook estimates the average age in the area to be 30. “Residents are mainly international young professionals.”
She only sees older people at senior viewings at the nearby Bord Gáis Energy theatre, a place she likes to frequent.
Even though she takes her pug, Rocky, for walks in Pearse Square she doesn’t meet too many locals living in the area and cites high rents as a factor.
All her friends work and socialise within the same mile-radius. Does she ever suffer from cabin fever? “When we want to escape we jump on the Dart and take a day trip out to Howth or walk the strand in Sandymount or picnic in Ringsend Park.”
If there’s one downside it is the fact that it takes 25 minutes to walk to Grafton Street.
Contemporary architecture abounds. The Bord Gáis Energy Theatre, designed by Daniel Libeskind, has helped draw more mature couples and kids into the area. Grand Canal Dock and Hanover Dock form an aquatic amenity aided by the artwork of landscape architect, Martha Schwartz.
Duesund makes use of it to share a bottle of prosecco with friends by the dock, where you can windsurf, kayak and sail.
There are green spaces at South Dock Street park and Pearse Square. The area holds many free events including the annual Summerfest and Maritime festival, which draw huge numbers into the area and offer street theatre, boat rides, markets and funfairs.
Catch Leinster or Ireland playing at Aviva Stadium, or the dogs at Shelbourne Park Greyhound track and there’s swimming, tennis, squash or five-aside soccer at ESB Sportsco on South Lotts Road.
The Super Natural Food Market is on Saturdays at St Andrew’s Resource Centre, on Pearse Street. The local Garda stations are in Pearse Street and Irishtown.