Heather Humphreys urged to save 400-year-old buildings

Dublin Civic Trust calls for preservation of two of city’s oldest buildings on Thomas Street

 

Two of Dublin’s oldest buildings are in imminent danger of demolition unless Minister for Heritage Heather Humphreys steps in to save them, the Dublin Civic Trust has warned.

The trust has appealed to Ms Humphreys to place a temporary preservation order on numbers 61 and 62 Thomas Street, parts of which date to the late-1500s, the trust said.

Dublin City Council in 2009 granted permission for the complete demolition and redevelopment of the buildings which had been largely derelict since the 1980s. In 2014, the planning permission, which was about to expire, was extended until 2019.

It was believed at the time the buildings dated from the mid 18th century, but little of the original fabric remained.

However, when work began in recent months on stripping out the building, significant “post-medieval” fabric was found behind the 20th century interiors, according to Graham Hickey, the trust’s conservation director.

“The astonishing skeletal grid of ceiling beams and joists is still intact on the ground floor, as well as early brick walls with ancient embedded timbers.

“With all of the modern partitions and ceilings now removed, the ground-floor shop retains all the grand scale one would expect of a public inn of the post-medieval period, complete with typical corner chimney stacks,” he said.

“There is absolutely nothing like this known to survive in Dublin, and very little comparable in the rest of the country.”

Blue Boar

Number 62 was a 17th-century inn called the Blue Boar, which was demolished and rebuilt in the 1780s. Number 61 was also an inn called the Golden Last, which was built in 1687. Some of the timber from the Blue Boar was reused in refurbishing the Golden Last in the late 1700s.

The Golden Last’s original frame remains largely intact, Mr Hickey said.

The trust is not seeking to retain the buildings in their present condition, but wants Ms Humphreys to issue a temporary preservation order to halt demolition, and allow further assessment of the buildings and how they might best be reused.

“This shouldn’t be seen as a liability, but rather a spectacular commercial opportunity that’s been handed to the developers on a plate. To have a new buildings constructed around a medieval structure would be a unique selling point,” Mr Hickey said.

A spokeswoman for the department said it understood the council had sought further information on the archaeological, architectural and historical assessment of the site.

“The department’s evaluation of the significance of 61-62 Thomas Street can only be made subsequent to receipt of all relevant information, and at the appropriate time it will communicate its recommendation to Dublin City Council through the city archaeologist.”

The council confirmed it had made the information request, and the information had recently been received and was under consideration. It had also been forwarded to the Department of Heritage.

Lawrence and Long Architects, who acted as agent for the developer in the planning process, did not respond to queries yesterday.

The developer could not be contacted for comment.