Call for boost to nightlife on Dublin’s north side

Business groups want to encourage people to remain north of Liffey after shops close

 Focus groups mentioned that they would like to see cafes and restaurants on Moore Street, Dublin Town chief executive Richard Guiney said. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

Focus groups mentioned that they would like to see cafes and restaurants on Moore Street, Dublin Town chief executive Richard Guiney said. File photograph: Eric Luke/The Irish Times

 

Dublin’s north inner city needs to develop a night-time economy to match the restaurant, bar and social scene south of the river, according to city business organisation Dublin Town.

Research, carried out for Dublin Town by Red C, on the district stretching from O’Connell Street to Capel Street and from the quays to Parnell Street, found that consumers needed more reason to stay on the northside beyond retail hours.

“People like the area during the day, and retail is strong with Henry Street in particular seen as a premier shopping destination, but the area lacks a night-time offering to keep people there beyond day-time shopping,” Dublin Town chief executive Richard Guiney said.

“The research has told us that people coming into the north side of the city to shop, also want to socialise. They see the existing food offerings as functional and indoors, such as cafes in shopping centres, and they would like more restaurants and cafes facing on to the street, potentially with tables outside.”

Four years ago, the Dublin City Business Improvement District, now called Dublin Town, was involved in the branding of an area west of Grafton Street, stretching from George’s Street to Clarendon Street and Dame Street to South King Street as the “Creative Quarter”, an exercise which proved extremely successful Mr Guiney said.

Vacancy rate “This area had a 25 per cent vacancy rate, in 2011 it hit its lowest footfall levels . . . It is now thriving, it was the first area to pick up after the recession, and is seen as the place to go at night.”

A similar night-time economy has developed and is growing on Capel Street, but the flow of trade is in a southerly direction – across the river to Parliament Street and up through Temple Bar to the Creative Quarter, and not eastwards. “What the success of Capel Street shows is that there is an interest there, and restaurants like Brother Hubbard on Capel Street or the Woollen Mills on Liffey Street who did take a punt on the area have been very successful.”

Battlefield site

Moore Street

Focus groups in particular mentioned that they would like to see cafes and restaurants on Moore Street, he said.

“Obviously there is an ongoing situation with the battlefield site, and we would like to see a resolution to that sooner rather than later. But regardless of the outcome, there will be opportunities there.”

The northside did have problems, he said, but increasingly they were ones of perception rather than reality.

“It would be naive not to acknowledge that there are issues with negative perceptions of the northside in relation to safety, but initiatives like the Garda’s Operation Spire [to tackle drug dealing] have been successful beyond our expectations, and while Henry Street is quite dark at night, the lighting has recently been improved, but perceptions always lag behind reality.”

The challenge now for Dublin Town was to illustrate to businesses that there was an evening and night-time market available.

“We need to encourage more business in, to show them that there is a market, that there are premises available, and that rents are cheaper.

“After all, it’s the centre of town, we’re not asking them to go to Alaska.”