Read All About It

One of the most significant restoration projects in Ireland over recent years has involved not a grand country house or an important public building, but a modest retail premises in central Dublin. We retain so little material evidence of our commercial history that it is difficult to imagine the vibrant economic life of the country in former centuries. That is why the restoration of 3-4 Parliament Street deserves applause. The thoroughfare was opened up by the Wide Street Commissioners in 1762 in order to provide a suitably grand approach from Essex Bridge to Dublin Castle. Almost all the houses lining the street have undergone considerable change over the past 250-plus years but this building retains its original appearance both inside and out, having served for much of the intervening period as Read’s Cutlers.

The interior of Read’s has altered little since first being fitted out in the 1760s. The ground floor shop, where once swords, as well as knives and forks were once sold, still contains its original counters, display cases and fitted wall cabinets, while upstairs is laid out as a family residence. Some years ago, the building having lain empty and neglected, this was all at risk of being lost but thankfully Read’s latest owner Clem Kenny appreciated its value and engaged in a through and meticulous restoration, a private initiative for which he deserves universal applause and appreciation. Next Thursday, November 15th, Dublin Civic Trust – which has long engaged in similarly valiant enterprises – is offering a tour of Read’s for which tickets can be booked on Rather than spoil the surprise of what lies behind that modest façade, these pictures are intended simply to whet appetites. Anyone who has not yet had an opportunity to see inside Read’s is urged to do so (and thereby also assist the Dublin Civic Trust’s worthy work).

5 comments on “Read All About It

  1. Nancy Sinsteden says:

    Sadly, sold out by 9:30 am, 10. November! And we have some Read knives.

  2. David says:

    It’s a wonderful thing, Clem kenny does indeed deserve recognition and gratitude 👏🏼. It would be wonderful if there were tax incentives that promotes conservation of our built heritage to offset what are in effect financial penalties for proprietors of protected structures — I’m referring to the much higher cost of insurance, not to mention the difficulty of getting insurance in the first place. Even for structures which are not protected, the age of a building pushes premiums higher. This shouldn’t be allowed. (As a side note, the tour will no doubt be wonderful but the tickets are a little pricey ☝️)

    • Peter Magill says:

      David I agree with your analysis but tax incentives are too narrow and do not apply to everyone who is a custodian of a protected structure. A better grants system that distinguishes between individual home owners and large institutions such as churches and some businesses who have deeper pockets would go a long way too creating a level playing field. A look at the the heritage grant awards for 2018 shows the disparity by county and the types of buildings supported by a very small grant allocation. Overall, government needs to re-think its support to the built heritage and its contribution to the weave of our society and in many instances cultural tourism.

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