Offering You the Quays of the City


A prospect that never fails to gladden the eye: Dublin’s north quays looking west from Essex Bridge towards the Four Courts. The view has inspired artists for more than two centuries, not least thanks to the varied rythym of the facades, their diversity of form, height and fabric. One must be concerned over the future of the large white structure at the centre of this picture. It is the old Ormond Hotel, incorporating premises of the same name which feature in James Joyce’s Ulysses. In 2004, on the centenary of the year in which the novel is set, Dublin City Council bloody-mindedly granted permission for the hotel to be demolished and replaced. This never happened although the Ormond closed for business in 2006 and has sat empty and progressively more neglected ever since.

2 comments on “Offering You the Quays of the City

  1. Paul Nash says:

    Heterogeneity and 19th century Topsy growth have produced a certain quaintness and there is an element of sentiment that will vary from viewer to viewer — but ‘never fails to gladden the eye’ suggests that rose- (or perhaps green-?) tinted spectacles are de rigeur at the Irish Aesthete.
    Where is our Haussman, I fondly ask?
    Nevertheless, I support the protection of the Ormond Hotel, but for its literary associations, not its visual appeal or architecture.

    • I would suggest Dublin has had two ‘Haussmans.’ Firstly the Wide Street Commissioners from 1757 onwards (see Dame, D’Olier, Westmoreland Streets and so forth), and then the city’s corporation in the 1960s/70s, the latter responsible for driving broad new thoroughfares through such historic districts as the Liberties; just look at the area around Christchurch Cathedral if you want to experience the outcome of that intervention. You see, not rose-tinted spectacles at all, but very clear-eyed….

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