Cobblestone trad music pub: Hundreds protest plan for hotel

Wooden coffin carried by protesters chanting ‘homes not hotels’ and ‘culture not vultures’

Hundreds of people have protested through Dublin city centre over proposals to develop hotels around the Cobblestone pub in Smithfield and at Merchant's Arch in Temple Bar.

Marron Estates Ltd has applied to Dublin City Council for a nine-storey hotel at 77-80 North King Street, which includes the Cobblestone. While the popular traditional music pub is a protected structure and would be retained as part of the proposed development, an outdoor area and back room venue would be demolished.

Meanwhile, An Bord Pleanála recently approved publican Tom Doone's plan for a four-storey hotel at 1-4 Merchant's Arch, the walkway connecting Temple Bar Square to the Ha'penny Bridge.

An online petition entitled “Save Merchant’s Arch” has attracted more than 50,000 signatures. However, the historic arch that opens onto the Ha’penny Bridge at Wellington Quay, is not part of the development. The planned hotel would face Temple Bar at the opposite end of the pedestrian lane, which is also called Merchant’s Arch.


Mr Doone did not respond to requests for comment.

Protesters gathered at Smithfield Square at 1pm on Saturday before heading along the River Liffey to Merchant’s Arch and then up to the council’s offices at Wood Quay. A wooden coffin that read “RIP culture” was carried by protesters, who chanted “homes not hotels”, “culture not vultures” and “save the Cobblestone”. Traditional musicians also played at the square and outside the council’s offices.

‘Furious’ over plans

Tomás Mulligan, manager at the Cobblestone, said he was “furious” about the development plans, adding his father has been leasing the pub for the last 30 years.

“They want to gut the beer garden, the back bar and the area to the side...we’re going to lose 70 per cent of our operational area. It’s going to starve us out of this building. We won’t be able to feasibly operate,” he said.

“I think people are just sick of this stuff. This is killing Dublin, this erection of mindless concrete. We don’t need a hotel, we’ve got one right across the road that you can get a room in any time you want.

“We’ve got a hostel down the way, the Generator, and along the Luas line three hotels have popped up over the last year even. There’s enough places to stay, there’s no need for this but mindless greed.”

Mr Mulligan said the pub had been a “home” for himself and his sisters, who all learned music there.

"There's lessons going on here, fantastic musicians come here from all over Ireland as well as the world. Noel Hill was here last night... Steve Martin came in and played the banjo here one time.

“Everyone has come here that has any link to Irish music. To lose this place would be akin to abolishing mecca for musicians. It’s so important. You can’t kill us. If you do, what is this for?”

Eoghan Ó Ceannabháin, one of the organisers of the event and a musician, has set up an online petition against the plans for the Cobblestone.

“We’re looking for people to get in as many objections as possible before November 4th to Dublin City Council. The proposals would change the Cobblestone completely and suck the life out of it,” he said.

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times