The Irish Georgian Society made the following submision to Dublin City Council regarding the proposed redevelopment of the Ormond Hotel, Dublin 1
Re: Proposed redevelopment of Ormond Hotel, 7-11 Upper Ormond Quay, and refurbishment of Nos. 12 (a Protected Structure) & 13 adjoining, Dublin 7.
Reg Ref: 3008/13.
Applicant: Monteco Holdings.
Date of application: 29th July 2013.
The Irish Georgian Society writes to object to the above proposal which will entail the demolition of the four-storey Ormond Hotel (7-11 Ormond Quay) and its replacement with a new six-storey hotel.
The Ormond Hotel is located on the city’s historic Georgian quays, which were laid out by the Duke of Ormond in the late 17th century. The Ormond Hotel, which began operating from the site in 1889, is a building of special cultural significance on account of it being the fictional location for the Sirens episode of James Joyce’s magnum opus, Ulysses, which chronicles the passage of Leopold Bloom through Dublin during an ordinary day, 16 June 1904.
The designation of Dublin as a UNESCO City of Literature was formal recognition of Dublin’s international literary significance, as is it the placing of Dublin on the tentative World Heritage Site list in 2010. The Ministerial submission to UNESCO for the latter designation cites Dublin’s literary heritage as an ‘Outstanding Universal Value’ or justification for designation, and in particular highlight’s Dublin as both setting and protagonist for Joyce’s Ulysses. (Footnote 1)
In light of the above, the demolition of the Ormond Hotel, one of the key locations of the modernist masterpiece, Ulysses, would represent a substantial erosion of the city’s cultural heritage.
The Society wishes to state that we are aware that substantial alterations have occurred to the physical fabric of the Ormond Hotel (No. 8 & 9 Ormond Quay) as featured in Ulysses of 1904: most markedly in 1932 when the hotel, which had expanded into the adjacent three properties frontage, was given a unified stucco treatment. We also recognise that early in the 21st century this new unified façade underwent insensitive modernisation, most notably the replacement of timber sash windows with inappropriate uPVC windows. Notwithstanding these alterations, the Society strongly considers that to demolish numbers 7-11 Upper Ormond Quay is to the detriment of Dublin’s architectural and cultural heritage.
The Society advocates that the current proposal be rejected and that a new scheme be considered, one that would sensitively restore the 1930s elevation and incorporate the historic quay frontage of the Ormond Hotel. Not to incorporate the historic Ormond Hotel quay frontage in new proposals for the hotel would represent the removal a real and tangible link, for tourists and the ‘citizen’ alike, to Ulysses, Dublin’s literary masterpiece.
In addition we wish to note that it is proposed to replace the four-storey historic hotel with a six-storey building. The Society considers six-storey too high for this part of Dublin’s historic Georgian quays, one that is at variance with the Liffey Quays as a Conservation Area and its Z5 city centre zoning, which commits ‘to consolidate and facilitate the development of the central area, and to identify, reinforce and strengthen and protect its civic character and dignity’. We consider that any new scheme for this site should be of no more than 5-storeys and should incorporate the historic Ormond Hotel buildings.
In light of the above, the Society respectfully requests that Dublin City Council refuse permission for the application in its current format.
IGS Conservation Manager
Footnote 1: ‘Tentative List Submission by Department of the Environment, Heritage & Local Government on 31st March 2010. Criterion (vi): The Site should be directly or tangibly associated with events or living traditions, with ideas, or with beliefs, with artistic and literary works of outstanding universal significance: Literary Dublin; Walking around Dublin's historic core it is still possible to follow in the footsteps of the writers that were both inspired and repelled by it. No part of the city is untouched by the ghost of some writer. The city was important both as formative influence and as a setting. The city plan and much of the fabric which provides the setting for texts of international significance, such as O’Casey’s dramatic trilogy and Joyce’s Ulysses, survive. It could be argued that in Ulysses, a high point of modernist literature, Dublin is in fact a participant, rather than just a setting.’