Bord Pleanála orders retention of ‘ugly’ Irish Catholic sign

Hostel refused permission to replace sign with word ‘Paddywagon’

A Dublin hostel's application to replace a "mundane and ugly" Irish Catholic sign on the facade of the building with the word "Paddywagon" has been rejected by An Bord Pleanála.

The Paddywagon hostel operator and tour provider had applied to Dublin City Council last March for permission to change the lettering on a sign for the newspaper, but this was refused. The newspaper left the building in 2007.

In its appeal to the planning body, the company argued that the council’s decision to reject the proposal meant it placed “exceptional value on something mundane and ugly”, and said the council’s case that the sign was equivalent to pop art was “ironic” given its unattractive appearance.

It added planning policies “ought to support a domestic export enterprise such as Paddywagon [as] it contributes significant taxes and fosters visitors to the country”.


In their contribution to the report, a conservation officer said the sign may date back to the 1930s when Perspex acrylic was first used for box signage of its type, and the sign was “integral to the artistic, social and cultural significance of the building”.

In response, the appellant said it was a “classic American-style plastic fascia sign” typical of the late 1950s, and had been erected in 1958.