Strategy to regenerate one of Dublin’s first post-medieval streets

Aungier Street has some of the city’s oldest houses


A strategy to turn around the fortunes of Dublin’s first planned post-medieval street will be published today by Dublin City Council.

Aungier Street in the south inner city is pre-Georgian and has some of the city’s oldest buildings, a number of which are now the only remaining examples of their kind.

However, it has suffered severe neglect and dereliction with several of its houses and civic buildings demolished. Its architectural and historical significance has been overlooked.

The street was laid out by Francis Aungier, Earl of Longford, in 1661 more than 10 years before St Stephen’s Green, just outside the city walls, as a new suburban residential street for the elite. It was chosen for its location close to the viceregal court at Dublin Castle and gave rise to a new type of house the “city mansion”.

These houses, built from the 1660s to the 1680s, were the grandest in pre-Georgian Dublin and provided the template for later buildings such as the Mansion House.The surviving mansions on Aungier Street are not only protected structures but recorded national monuments.

There have been interventions in recent years to save and bring back into productive use buildings, including number 21, considered one of the most significant city homes of the late 17th century, which was restored by the Civic Trust and is now a guesthouse.

However, this has been done on a piecemeal basis in the absence of an overall strategy for the street. The council’s plan in collaboration with the Dublin Civic Trust is to use conservation to achieve the regeneration of the street.

The report, Aungier Street – Revitalising an Historic Neighbourhood, aims to turn around the perception that having a protected structure designation on a building is a barrier to its development and use, and instead can be its selling point for both commercial and residential use.

Heritage can be a “key economic driver”, the report says . As protected structures the buildings are largely bound by their current footprint which can make them unsuitable for high street retailers and well known brands, but can make them “perfectly suited” for smaller independent retailers and specialists shops which want a distinctive identity. The street also has wider footpaths than most parts of the city making it ideal for pavement cafes.

There has been too much of an emphasis on enforcement or “bringing owners into line” as a method of protecting buildings, the report says. The plan switches focus to direct engagement with owners offering guidance on repairs and how to bring properties into use.