Making the most of College Green
A chara, – I have recently returned from a visit to central Europe, where I was lucky enough to spend time in some of our Continent’s most glorious cities, particularly Vienna and Budapest. It struck me that here in Ireland we have nothing even vaguely comparable to the awe-inducing beauty of these places. I understand that comparing apples with oranges is a fool’s errand, and to pitch Dublin against Vienna is simply idiotic. We do not possess buildings of such grandeur, as the Habsburgs never made it this far west. However, I also believe that we are not doing ourselves any favours here either. We must capitalise on the assets we do possess, and there is one in particular that I wish to turn my attention to.
Parliament House or, as far too many people would know it, the Bank of Ireland on College Green, is a stunning building with a rich history, in the heart of our capital. I need not bore your readers with information they already know, but let’s remember this building housed Ireland’s first parliament for most of the 18th century, subsequent to its construction in 1729. This is no insignificant fact, and coupled with the building’s undoubted beauty, should be something worthy of promotion and respect. It is this latter point that I wish to stress. Why has it been allowed that a banking institution, albeit the oldest one in the State, has complete control over a building of such significance and importance to Irish history? To my mind, this shows our complete lack of respect. Respect of our own heritage, our own history and how we seek to portray ourselves to the rest of the world.
With plans afoot to pedestrianise College Green and create a wonderful open space, surely now is the time to reassess who it is controls our cultural assets, and what we do with them? Imagine if Parliament House were brought back under the ownership of the State, renovated to its past glories and opened up fully to the public? This move, in conjunction with the plaza plans, would create a wonderful cultural space in the heart of our city and, with Trinity College beside it, would provide a majestic streetscape for visitors to enjoy. – Yours, etc,