Plan for partial demolition of Big Tree pub in Dublin criticised

Developer wants to change planning permission on 1830s building on Dorset Street

The Mountjoy Square Society said, if properly restored, the building would be an ‘outstanding asset to the area’.

The Mountjoy Square Society said, if properly restored, the building would be an ‘outstanding asset to the area’.


The preservation of the Big Tree pub near Croke Park in Dublin is at risk following a decision by its new owners to seek permission for its partial demolition.

The Dublin Loft Company last year secured permission from Dublin City Council to build a 163-bedroom hotel at the corner of Dorset Street and the North Circular Road incorporating the pub, which dates from the 1830s.

However, it has now sought to amend this planning permission to allow it to demolish and rebuild all but the ground floor facade of the late Georgian building.

A structural assessment prepared by Barrett Mahony Consulting Engineers on behalf of the developers said that, given the “extremely dilapidated state of the building”, the work required to retain and refurbish the existing structure would be “extremely complex, with numerous risks to health and safety”.

Local heritage group the Mountjoy Square Society has described the proposal to partially demolish the venue as “frankly embarrassing” and, along with heritage group An Taisce, has objected to it.

In its submission to the council, the society said it would amount to a “crude destruction of authentic architectural heritage”.

If properly restored the building would be an “outstanding asset to the area”, but “its proposed rebuilding in facsimile is a concept widely discredited internationally and one that makes a mockery of architectural heritage protection and cultural identity”, the society said.

“Any proposed demolition and rebuilding of the Big Tree pub would present a disingenuous, and quite frankly embarrassing, spectacle were it to be countenanced by the planning authority.”

An Taisce said the preservation of historic buildings within new developments was an “established and integral part of regeneration of the historic inner city over the past couple of decades” and there was “no good reason to depart from this approach” at this site.

The council said a number of items identified in the structural assessment were common issues with historic buildings, such as a lack of waterproofing and the existence of timber support beams.

“Furthermore, while the submitted report identifies complications in the construction of the scheme as consented, the report does not state that the existing building is structurally unsound, nor does the report state that the development as consented cannot be carried out,” it said.

The council has given the developer six months to provide a revised structural assessment report setting out whether the existing building can be retained and clarifying the specific structural defects that result in the retention of the existing property being unfeasible given “the recent permission on the site was for its retention”.