Poetry Ireland reiterates plans for Parnell Square home

1st August 2019

Poetry Ireland is fully committed to its plans for a new home for poetry in Ireland, the Poetry Ireland Centre, which will be developed at 11 Parnell Square East.

This comes amidst recent media reports regarding the Dublin City Council-led Parnell Square Cultural Quarter and concerns over funding for the project. The Council announced this week that it remains committed to developing a new city library at Parnell Square West.

Poetry Ireland has been located at 11 Parnell Square East since 2016, joining the Irish Heritage Trust which has been based at No. 11 since 2009.  Together, they have developed plans for a conservation-led refurbishment of the building, which will house an all-island institution dedicated to poetry in all its forms and a centre for heritage within Dublin’s North Inner City cultural cluster.

Planning permission has been granted to restore the historic Georgian townhouse and the Centre will include elegant workshop and performance spaces, the Seamus Heaney Working Poetry Library, café and bookshop.

The overall cost of the project is €6 million with €1 million raised so far through private donations. The organisation is currently waiting on news regarding the State’s funding of a capital programme for the development project.

Maureen Kennelly, Director of Poetry Ireland, said that the Parnell Square area is already a cultural quarter with the Irish Writers Centre, Dublin City Gallery, the Hugh Lane, Dublin Writers Museum and Poetry Ireland all situated around the square and the Gate Theatre and James Joyce Centre located just a stone’s throw away.

“Parnell Square is pulsating with activity and is a real hub for people interested in culture and the arts,” she said. “We understand that there will still be significant development happening with the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter and look forward to what will be a flagship development for the north inner city and a boost to further regenerate Parnell Square.

“11 Parnell Square is already an integral part of this cultural cluster and the establishment of the Poetry Ireland Centre will add significantly to the regeneration of the north inner city and enable the opening up of Poetry Ireland to new communities.”

The building is a four storey over basement Georgian protected structure of historical importance. Works will include the careful conservation-led refurbishment of the house with the provision of universal access including a new lift to the rear, as well as internal and external alterations.

In this new vision for the house, the basement will function as an independent commercial entity, and the ground floor and first floor (including the two storey 20th century extension to the rear) will house the Poetry Ireland Centre, comprising elegant performance and workshop spaces, a café and bookshop and the custom-designed Seamus Heaney Working Poetry Library. The upper two floors will be used as office space.

The house is located in an area of high conservation value due to the well preserved, surrounding streetscape which is greatly valued for its historic significance and architectural merit.

Journalist and presenter of RTÉ’s Poetry Programme Olivia O’Leary said of the importance of the planned Poetry Ireland Centre, “Playwrights have the Abbey Theatre, musicians have the National Concert Hall, painters have the National Gallery so why wouldn’t poetry have its home, its temple if you like. Somewhere which says we in Ireland think poetry is very important.”

Notes:

As one of the first townhouses on Dublin’s very first Georgian square, No. 11 Parnell Square is a historically significant 250-year-old building with many stories to tell.

No. 11 started life as a private residence in what was then Dublin’s most desirable residential area, and was built by Luke Gardiner, one of Georgian Dublin’s visionary “developers”. Later it housed The National Club, a members' club frequented by WB Yeats’ muse Maud Gonne and the nationalist John O’Leary, featured by Yeats in his famous poem ‘September 1913’.

Innovative plans devised by award winning architects McCullough Mulvin have been approved by Dublin City Council. Works will include the careful conservation-led refurbishment of the house, with the provision of universal access.

No 11 is currently home to Poetry Ireland, the Irish Heritage Trust, the Irish Landmark Trust and the Irish Museums Association.