In Fairview, a large abandoned building site on Richmond Avenue brings the total number on the Derelict Sites Register in Dublin to an even 58.
This site has been of particular concern for local residents and Dublin city councillors of late.
Their worries are twofold: they wish to see action taken with regards to the stalled development on the site, and they are increasingly concerned about the state of 31 Richmond Avenue, which adjoins the site, and was at one time the home of 1916 leader Thomas Clarke, and his wife Kathleen.
In 2003, developer Jerry Beades was granted planning permission to demolish the buildings at 21 and 29 Richmond Avenue and construct several apartment complexes at these addresses.
Beades is perhaps now best known for his legal battles with several banks and his leadership of the New Land League. Self-styled as the inheritors of Michael Davitt and Charles Stewart Parnell, the group are involved in opposing the repossession of foreclosed properties across the country.
The original plans for the site involved the construction of multi-storey blocks with 48 apartments, next to 31 Richmond Avenue. In 2007, the council granted Beades permission to develop a further 11 apartments at the complex, and then, a year later, another five units.
In Decline Since 2009
In 2008, a the council granted a three-year extension for development of the site.
On 10 November 2011, a further extension met with opposition from authorities. According to a council report, “further information was requested from the applicant, but no response was received and permission on the site has now expired”.
In 2012, Bank of Scotland secured a €9.6 million judgement against Beades for loans extended to him for the construction.
The Fairview Residents Association, since 2012, has appealed to the council to start a discussion with Beades about the site. But “progress has been hampered by lack of communication with the site owner”, said a 2013 council report.
The local residents’ association has pushed for the site to be registered as derelict. It has “languished”, said local resident Brid Ryan. “These sites on Richmond Avenue have been an eyesore for years.”
Numbers 21 and 27 -29 Richmond Avenue are listed on the most recent derelict sites register.
At the end of last year, the Dublin City Council Chief Executive Owen Keegan said there were plans to crack down on the owners of derelict sites.
Ryan says she’s “extremely hopeful that [these] recent comments (…) will mean there will finally be some movement towards a resolution of the situation for local people.”
Despite several attempts, Beades did not respond when asked by text and voicemail if he would be able to offer his side of the story in relation to the failed development.
Next door to the derelict site, 31 Richmond Avenue, which is also a focus of local chatter, is in a different position altogether.
Thomas Clarke’s House
As head of the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Thomas Clarke was one of the major figures behind the Easter Rising. On the morning of 24 April 1916, he left 31 Richmond Avenue for the GPO, where he remained throughout the rebellion.
On Monday afternoon, the home came up at a meeting of the council’s the North Central Area Committee.
Councillor Deirdre Heney of Fianna Fáil, having been contacted by local residents, asked whether owners of protected structures have to maintain them. And, in particular, how this would relate to the protected structure at 31 Richmond Avenue.
The difficulty for residents and councillors is that Clarke’s former residence might look to them a bit rundown, but it is not derelict or abandoned, unlike the adjoining site.
It is largely fenced in due to the stalled construction next door, but it remains just outside of the building zone. On Monday, there was washing hanging from the windows of the house, as one resident stepped out for a smoke.
He said the house was full at the moment.
There is “no evidence of unauthorised use or structures nor was the house endangered at the date of inspection,” said a Dublin City Council report given to councillors Monday.
But some councillors are still arguing that more should be done to keep it up. Other historical homes are better preserved, they say.
A well-maintained semi-detached house at 29 Sandycove Road marks the birthplace of Roger Casement, executed for his part in 1916.
At 27 Pearse Street, a plaque marks the birthplace of Padraig and Willie Pearse, executed – like Clarke – in the days following their unconditional surrender. In Rathfarnam, St Enda’s School, where Pearse was headmaster, is now preserved as a museum.
Local councillor Ciaran O’ Moore of Sinn Fein says he would like to see Clarke’s house become a focal point for the Fairview community. The situation now is “disastrous”, he says.
“I would like to see the house renovated and done up by the community,” O’Moore says. ” You could have a museum or a community centre in it. There are lots of things Fairview is lacking, such as a decent resource centre.”
A spokesperson for Dublin City Council said, in an email when asked about the upkeep, that the house “is on the Record of Protected Structures . . . is a private property and appears to be occupied.”