The next chapter in Dublin’s literary quarter

8th January 2018

PRESS RELEASE    Monday 8 January 2018

Poetry Ireland and the Irish Heritage Trust have received planning permission for ambitious plans to restore a historic Georgian townhouse in Dublin's north inner city as a new home for poetry in Ireland, the Poetry Ireland Centre.

“Playwrights have the Abbey Theatre, musicians have the National Concert Hall, painters have the National Gallery, so why shouldn’t poetry have its home, its temple if you like. Somewhere which says we in Ireland think poetry is very important.” Olivia O’Leary, journalist

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’s muse Maud Gonne and the nationalist John O’Leary, featured by Yeats in his famous poem ‘September 1913’. The building's magnificent council chamber is the setting for "Ivy Day in the Committee Room", one of the short stories in James Joyce's Dubliners. Dublin City Council acquired the building at the start of the 20th century.

With nearly €1 million in funds raised to date, Poetry Ireland and the Irish Heritage Trust are now embarked on a capital fundraising campaign to raise the remaining €4 million required to begin the next chapter in the building's life. Poetry Ireland is delighted to announce that the Adrian Brinkerhoff Poetry Fund of the Sidney E Frank Foundation has recently become a Major Founding Donor with the donation of $250,000.

Investment in the restoration represents a truly distinctive opportunity to make a lasting and significant impact on the cultural and literary life of Ireland, while adding significantly to the regeneration of the north inner city.

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. In this new vision for No. 11, the basement will function as an independent restaurant, and the ground floor and first floor (including a two storey 20th century extension to the rear) will house the Poetry Ireland Centre, a vibrant cultural hub comprising elegant performance and workshop spaces, a café and bookshop, and the custom designed Seamus Heaney Working Poetry Library, one of our national treasures.

No. 11 Parnell Square is set to become an integral part of a visionary project to fulfil the City’s ambitions for a cultural cluster with high public footfall in the Parnell Square area. No. 11 will proudly join the Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane and the Gate Theatre, as well as the Dublin Writers Museum, the Irish Writers Centre, The James Joyce Centre and the proposed new City Library in Dublin’s literary quarter.

In 2018 the Parnell Square Cultural Quarter project will move into the design to planning phase with the aim of submitting a planning application this year. The new City Library at Parnell Square will serve the 1.2 million population of the Greater Dublin Area, attracting an estimated 3,000 visitors a day. It will inspire and excite, welcome and include with collections, connections, places, services and programmes for learners, readers, researchers, for children and families, for all citizens. It will be a place to learn, create and participate.   

“The Poetry Ireland Centre is a wonderful thing in the abstract. We have to make it concrete, and we’d love you to help us do that.” Paul Muldoon, Pulitzer prize-winning poet and Poetry Ireland board member

Watch journalist Olivia O'Leary, commentator Mícheál Ó Muircheartaigh, comedian Dara Ó Briain, actor Aidan Gillen, poets Paula Meehan and Paul MuldoonMarie Heaney and the people behind the restoration of No. 11 Parnell Square tell us why Ireland needs a home for poetry.


For further information see