August 22nd, 1928


FROM THE ARCHIVES:A visit to Dublin in 1928 by members of an international town planning association led The Irish Times to hope that planning legislation would soon be introduced in Ireland.

The party was welcomed by the Dublin City Commissioners [temporary replacements for Dublin City Council after the Civil War], and we venture to discern in Dr. W. C. Dwyer’s address hopeful tokens of the early coming of town- planning legislation.

Dr. Dwyer mentioned that the interest taken in the housing and town-planning section of the Public Health Congress last week excelled that taken in other sections – evidence that educated public opinion is anxious to see Ireland’s present lack of legislation on this topic remedied.

He said that the Free State Legislature . . . had been “more than fully engaged” with other matters. The Legislature has been busily occupied, it is true, in many important works.

It has attacked the dearth of houses and it has reconstructed the main roads; but the larger the works of reconstruction . . . the greater is the need for foresight.

Dr. Dwyer said that “hasty or ill-considered legislation” was undesirable. Yet more undesirable is hasty or ill-considered reconstruction. When the delegates were driven around the newly built areas in Dublin yesterday, a score of object-lessons in the injury that results from the lack of town-planning legislation might have been pointed.

In two of the new suburbs, children playing on narrow streets and rows of houses with their back-windows looking into one another, might have been used as examples of the evils that came from the building of dwellings at a density of 14 and 17 to the acre.

Killester was visited, and here the delegates saw a well-planned new suburb, with ample green space for playing children, and with substantial vegetable gardens attached to every house.

The most recent additions to this new suburb, however, are cottages that have neither a water supply nor drainage . . . yet, within about half a mile, the visitors were shown Griffith road, a concrete highway one hundred feet in width, over which virtually no traffic runs.

Given a town plan, even in rudimentary form, there would be no lavishing of money on costly, idle highways while, in the same neighbourhood, water, drainage, gas and electricity are wanting.

Our visitors, if they see in the new Dublin a city that is growing at random, nevertheless will not visit Dublin in vain; for, as Dr. Dwyer pointed out, the older city shows “many examples of the advisability of judicious planning.”

The wide streets in the centre of the city, and those in some of the old residential areas, give Dublin distinction even in its decay. Great reforms have been achieved. The city is clean to-day, and its noisy cobbles are gone.

Nevertheless the Commissioners cannot but be aware that they have opportunities greater even than those which were enjoyed by the builders of the older city, and that they can make but small use of them so long as the growing city lacks a plan and its rulers power to compel conformity thereto.