The need for a campaign to save Moore Street arises because of a clash between those who want to use the land for commercial interests and who stand to make millions from it and the majority of people in Ireland and beyond, who want to preserve the history of the street and commemorate the Easter Rising of 1916.
An important moment in the campaign to protect the revolutionary history and heritage of the 1916 Moore Street Battlefield site, regarded by many, including the National Museum of Ireland, as the most important site in modern Irish history, took place at the monthly meeting of Dublin City Council on Monday 7th November 2022, according to Independent Left’s Cllr John Lyons:
On behalf of the people of Ireland we added several buildings along Moore Street terrace to the Record of Protected Structures (RPS) some seven years since first I proposed the following motion:
That the following 1916 Buildings, identified in the Franc Myles Battlefield Report,
commissioned by Shaffrey Associates on behalf of Chartered Land, be added to the
list of protected structures as buildings of National historical importance:
1 .O’Brien’s Mineral Water Building, Henry Place – Occupied by volunteers.
2 .The White House, Henry Place – Occupied and held by Michael Collins.
3. No.10 Moore Street – Point of entry -The First Council of War – Overnight stay.
4. The Bottling Stores rear. 10 Moore Street and Moore Lane – Occupied by Frank Henderson.
5. Hanlons, 20/21 Moore Street – Surrender order accepted by volunteers after consultation with Thomas Clarke, Joseph Plunkett, Michael Collins and Sean Mac Diarmada.
The buildings recommended for protection at the city council meeting are 10 and 20/21 Moore Street and the walls between 12 and 13 Moore Street which show evidence of infilled ‘creep holes’ used during the Rising for access between buildings on the terrace.
Off Moore Street, the listing recommended the protection of the ground floor facades of 17-18 Henry Place and the O’Brien’s Mineral Water Building at 4-8 Henry Place.
On the addition of these hugely historic buildings to the Record of Protected Structures, Independent Left’s Cllr Lyons said:
It is a significant stage in the campaign to preserve our revolutionary heritage in Dublin as the 1916 Moore Street Battlefield site is currently under the threat of a commercial developer’s wrecking ball. These buildings were due for demolition or partial demolition under the current developer’s plans for the Dublin Central site, which includes the Moore St area. The delay in protecting these buildings has been a very frustrating and fraught experience as the danger of demolition throughout that time was very real.
I first sought protection for these buildings in June 2015.
Two private developers played a deliberately obstructive role in delaying the addition of these buildings to the RPS: bailed out NAMA developer & member of the elite Maple 10 Joe O’Reilly and his Chartered Land company initially blocked access for inspection of the buildings, as did the current owner of the site, Hammerson PLC.
Years of Campaigning to Save Moore Street
At the end of February 2022, Moore Street campaigners took to the street to express our determination to save the 1916 Moore St Battlefield site from the developer’s wrecking ball and the planners who are willing to allow the destruction of our urban history and heritage in the name of profit.
Dublin City Council’s previous decision to grant planning permission to Hammersons to build a bland shopping centre was flawed as it failed to recognise the responsibilities of the present generation to protect and conserve our national historical heritage, instead, officials prioritised the commercial objectives of the current zoning of the area to the complete detriment of the historical and heritage objectives as contained within the Dublin City Development Plan 2016-2022:
CHC20: To support the retention and refurbishment of the cultural quarter associated with 1916 on Moore Street.
CHCO31: To develop a 1916 Historic Quarter, including Moore Street, with its National Monument and historic terrace, an appropriately developed street market, the GPO and Parnell Square, creating an integrated historic, literary and commercial focus for the north city centre and providing for tourism and to prepare a Development Brief for the Moore Street Area which addresses the above.CEE18: (VI) “To recognise the unique importance of Moore Street Market to the history and the culture of the city and to ensure its protection, renewal and enhancement, in co-operation with the traders as advocated by the Moore Street Advisory Committee Recommendation relating thereto.”
The proposed development would have resulted in the over-intensification of commercial retail activity and foreclosed forever the possibility of creating a world-class historical Revolutionary Quarter with the 1916 Moore Street Battlefield site at its heart. The unique history and heritage of the Moore Street area would have been destroyed and lost to future generations. In the words of Uachtarán na hÉireann Michael D Higgins: “This area belongs to no one individual, group or party. It belongs to the people”.
The Moore Street battlefield site is comprised of the following: Moore Street, Moore Lane, Henry Place and O’Rahilly Parade.
The High Court and the Government’s Own Consultative Group Recommended Saving Moore Street
As the 2016 High Court ruling (Record No. 2015/696/JR Record No. 2016/51/MCA Record No. 2015/387/MCA) stated, ‘there are a number of reasons why the Moore Street Battle-Site is unique. Three of these reasons are as follows. First, the Easter Rising was a pivotal event in Irish history. At the very heart of the story of the Rising, steps from the iconic GPO, sits the Moore Street Battle-Site. Second, the Moore Street Battle-Site is the place to which the men and women of the GPO fled, where battle was done and surrender was negotiated, and a site where workers, civilian and combatant, lived and died in what was, to a large extent, a workers’ rising. Third, significant physical fragments of the Moore Street Battle-Site landscape and streetscape survive; this is not true of many of the sites of the battles done at Easter 1916.’
Again, the 2017 Report of The Moore Street Consultative Group to The Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, The Moore Street Report – Securing History, recognised the ‘Moore Street area offers a unique opportunity for development as part of a cultural historic quarter. This can serve to honour its history, promote economic regeneration and community renewal and transform current dereliction’.
That ministerial consultative group recommended to the then Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs that ‘fresh development plans for the Moore Street area are required – to address the protection of the Street and its historic buildings, the line and key buildings of adjacent lanes and to appropriately recreate a sense of the area as it was in 1916 – “a moment in time”.’
This recommendation was not pursued, developed and implemented; instead, we are faced with a planning permission that encapsulates a private corporate vision for the area which seeks to maximise profit-making and minimise the historical importance and significance of the area.
The Securing History report and the High Court ruling both recognise what the majority Irish public opinion believes is the unique significance of the Moore Street battlefield site as the birthplace of the Irish Republic, the site in which a colonised people struck for freedom and independence.
The recommendations of the ministerial Securing History and Securing History 2 reports incorporated many of the recommendations of the Lord Mayor’s Forum on Moore Street which published The Moore Street Battlefield Site Plan: The Lanes of History in 2016:
‘The retention of Moore Street and adjacent lanes so as to broadly capture the sense of how it would have appeared in 1916 – this covers the street and lanes, key buildings, street paving and lighting. It recognises that this needs to be approached on a practical and authentic basis given that a number of structures in place actually postdate Independence. The preservation of the existing lines of the street and the lanes and the restoration of streetscapes are essential.
The retention of historical structures and of the line and form of the block 10 – 25 Moore Street is also integral to this approach. Collectively these buildings can offer a mix of cultural, historic and commercial spaces. Quite critically, opportunities arise for the State to provide the centre point of historical focus and cultural celebration within 10 – 25 Moore Street.
The endorsement of the renovation/retention of the O’Rahilly Parade, Moore Lane and Henry Place so as to appropriately reflect their place as part of the historic events, the retention of key landmarks, the retention of the lines of the lanes with the full restoration of the existing granite sett lane surfaces, kerbs and street furniture and the development of walking trails through these areas.
A vision for the development of the Moore Street battlefield area as part of an historic cultural quarter, as reflected in the Dublin City Development Plan for 2016 – 2022. This provides for a cultural quarter in the Parnell Square area and the inclusion of the GPO/Moore Street area as part of a revolutionary trail linking sites such as Boland’s Mill, Kilmainham Gaol, Richmond Barracks and Arbour Hill.’
Alongside the rejuvenation of the Moore Street market, the above clearly offers an alternative to the current planning permission, an alternative that will achieve what the current planning permission, if allowed to proceed, will destroy: the protection, conservation, enhancement, regeneration and transformation of the Moore Street area into a 1916 Revolutionary Quarter linked to the GPO and Parnell Square that will provide present and future generations of Dubliners and visitors alike with a life-enhancing historical, cultural and leisure experience.
The Moore Street Report
In March 2017, a comprehensive report on the future of Moore Street was published by the Moore Street Consultative Group. In the report, to which Councillor John Lyons as a DCC representative made a major contribution, the main recommendations are:
1. The development of the Moore Street battlefield area as part of an historic cultural quarter, as reflected in the Dublin City Development Plan for 2016 – 2022.
2. The renewal of the Moore Street market and the avoidance of the demolition of historic structures.
3. The retention of Moore Street and adjacent lands to capture the streetscape of 1916.
4. The retention of the line 10 – 25 Moore Street (the State already owns 14 – 17 Moore Street).
5. A ‘moment in time’ approach to internal restoration (that does not exclude a visitor centre and/or museum).
6. The renovation with contemporary lane surfaces, kerbs and street furniture of O’Rahilly Parade, Moore Lane and Henry Place.
7. The regeneration of the Moore Street market via improved provision of services for street traders.
8. Policy for the area to remain with the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Regional, Rural and Gaeltacht Affairs, while the development and management of the National
Monument at 14 – 17 should transfer directly to the Office of Public Works (OPW).
9. Consensus engagement with public bodies, developer interests, traders and voluntary
10. The establishment of an Advisory/Oversight Group.
11. Resources to allow this group to secure input from relevant experts.
12. The State to lead in the establishment of a visitor centre / museum.
13. A cross-departmental group to be established to oversee a coherent, strong approach by its agencies.
14. The following timeframes be put in place to benchmark progress:
• Agreement and establishment of the Advisory/Oversight Group – six weeks;
• Framework of consensus secured on alternative development arrangements for Moore Street and its lanes – six months;
• Planning permission lodged with DCC – within six months subsequently.
Read the full report here.