Swimming pool or opera house? What to do with BoI?

 

The State has proposed turning Bank of Ireland’s historic College Green branch into a tourist attraction. What would members of the public like to see it used for?

Katherine Ward, 21, journalism student, Baldoyle

“Considering the heritage behind it and how beautiful the architecture is, inside and out, there should be tours of it, like in Dublin Castle. I’m with Bank of Ireland, so I can go in there, but I think it should go back to the State. I think it could be a tourist centre or a restaurant, and there should be windows put in, but then it would take away that part of the story behind it, that it had no windows to avoid paying a glass tax. I wouldn’t want it turning into a sports centre or something like that. It should be kept for tourism and heritage reasons.”

Mark Diggin,53, self-employed, Wicklow

“I can see the need to sell it, but I doubt the public will have much say over that. We can do nothing! Unfortunately I have been in there for Nama reasons: to sign away personal guarantees. But it’s a lovely building and a one-off. I don’t mind what’s done with it – maybe a museum – as long as its kept in the condition it’s in now. With the GPO around the corner, that’s a lot of history.”

Barbara Henkes, 39, works for Filmbase in Temple Bar

“Turning it into something else is an interesting prospect. I haven’t really been in there, but given its size it would make for a great large-scale community centre for the arts. We could do with something like that in the centre of the city.”

Michael Mulroy,67, retired, Drogheda

“That’s a difficult question. We could put the politicians back in there; that’s where they were originally. It would make a lovely Senate. But you couldn’t put a value on a place like that. It’s part of the whole heritage of Ireland. You can’t spoil it.”

Barry Ryan,24, barman, Offaly

“If it’s put up for tenure, and the ideas are listened to carefully, I could see it being used for something else. You’ve got to keep it the way it is, though, and if it was done properly I think it would make for a really cool venue. This part of Dublin needs another one with a historical feel now that the Ambassador theatre doesn’t seem to be used any more. It would be class.”

Elaine Butler,20, pharmacology student, Kildare

“It’s too beautiful to be destroyed for the sake of turning it into something like a bus depot: look at the amount of people taking pictures of it. The Westin is right across the road, so I don’t think a big fancy hotel would work, either. Let’s face it: we don’t have enough cultural sites for tourists.

“You already have the wax museum beside it; that’s a step in the right direction. But there aren’t enough landmark spots that are of any use to tourists in terms of information. You are forever stopped by tourists because people didn’t know how to get to Heuston station or can’t figure out the Luas or the buses. In a city like Madrid, there’s one huge building that lets you make sense of their system. We’ve none of that.”

Vaughan Williams, 68, tourist, Wolverhampton, UK

“If I was Irish, I would be worried about how prospects like this reflect the health of the State. Either way it sounds like you’re in a lot of trouble. In England I’ve seen banks turned into restaurants and residential property, but if I were controlling the nation’s purse strings I’d be for preserving public buildings as part of the country’s legacy for future generations.”

Bruno Fernandez,26, student at Modern Educational Centre, Brazil

“I really like this building and think it works well as a bank. I’ve no problem with that. We don’t have things like this in my country. If I were to pick any other use for it, I would go for a swimming pool, maybe even a park if it was to be knocked down.”

Seona Grant,20, business student, Portmarnock

“It should be turned into a museum for modern art. It should be something like the Metropolitan Museum [New York].

Brendan O’Farrell,29, studying human resources, Rathfarnham

“I’m a Bank of Ireland customer, so I have a vested interest in keeping it in their hands. If it is given back to the State there is talk of Senate reform, so maybe that’s an option. The original houses of parliament were here, so for historical reasons it would make sense.”

Gabrielle O’Hara,library assistant at Trinity College Dublin

“I think we could do with another opera house: it would suit it. Either way, there should be more facilities for the public.”

  • In conversation with Cian Traynor