THE FOUR GIANT umbrellas that have rendered Meeting House Square in Dublin’s Temple Bar area have won an award for initiative.
The Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT) picked up the award in the Dublin City Neighbourhood Competition for best Environment Initiative. The retractable umbrella-style canopies were erected over the central plaza in Temple Bar last summer. They provide full shelter from inclement weather on the square.
Dermot McLaughlin, chief executive of the TBCT, said that the award was a recognition of how they had changed the environmental factors affecting the activities that could be held in the square. “If you were to put a number on it, from New Year’s Day to the end of this month, we’ve been able to hold 50 events that we couldn’t otherwise have done, and this is in addition to the food market held there every Saturday,” he told TheJournal.ie.
Some of those events included the Chinese New Year celebrations, a Valentine’s movie night and the recent Down With Jazz festival on a weekend when the “weather was a wee bit hairy”. Incidentally, said McLaughlin, the umbrellas also came into play last Thursday when the weather was so warm that people sitting in the square to have their lunch began opening their own umbrellas to protect themselves from the heat.
The canopies cost the Trust €2.4m in total and were designed by Sean Harrington Architects following a public competition.
The neighbourhood awards, organised by Dublin City Council, also recognised a number of individual businesses in the Temple Bar area including the Quays Bar and Beads & Bling, both for special merit in the shopfront category. Crown Alley won the Shopping Street category and TBCT and Cow’s Lane won best Mixed Use Street category.
Owner-managed enterprises “getting a shout”
A collective of traders in the area also won best Sustainable Initiative and a special merit in the best Waste Management Initiative category.
McLaughlin said that it was “great to see some of the smaller owner-managed enterprises getting a shout in there – they are fighting against a difficult tide in the business environment”.
The negative image of Temple Bar as a rowdy drinking area of the city centre is still prevalent, McLoughlin admitted, but he advised:
I would say to people to get yourself down here on Culture Night on 21 September and you will be fighting your way through buggies and families and people of all ages.
Law enforcement “patchy” in on-street drinking
He said that while on-street drinking was still a problem in the area later in the night, it is also a problem in other Dublin city areas and in other towns across Ireland. He said:
I do think it is a shame because it damages the reputation of a place (Temple Bar area) that is home for 3,000 people.
Enforcement of the law is the major factor in the night-time disturbance issue, McLaughlin said. “It all goes back to enforcement. There are really sensible laws in place in licensing, in public order and environmental, as in noise pollution, but the enforcement culture can be patchy and weak and behaviour is tolerated that shouldn’t be.”