Whilst visiting Dublin last weekend I noticed something on my arrival in the beautiful leafy suburb of Portobello which took my breath away! Not in a good way! Being from this small village in the North West of Ireland I always treasure my trips to the Fair City! And this one was no exception. Normally I stay in the city centre on these visits but this time I was staying with a friend in Portobello. I have always loved this part of Dublin. It has such character and remains green and unspoilt. It has many independent restaurants and coffee houses, bars and shops, which I always find attractive and inviting.
As I walked along Kingsland Parade I noticed a number of signs on peoples windows saying ‘Talk to your neighbour’. What a lovely gesture I thought for such a busy city suburb! Then as I ventured further along the street I noticed a poster showcasing the proposed new Jewish museum that was planned for the street. It looked so wrong! This beautiful quaint street with so much history and character would be spoiled if this were carried through. The proposed building seemed to me to be a contemporary monstrosity in this beautiful preserved street! So I asked around what was happening!
I learned the following: For generations Portobello was the heart of Dublin’s Jewish community and known as ‘Little Jerusalem’. This suburb is the home of the Irish Jewish Museum and Ireland’s oldest synagogue; but now local residents are annoyed and angered that the group of trustees in charge of the museum want to demolish the existing building to make way for a new museum. The said museum was founded and curated by Raphael Siev for 25 years until his death in 2009. The museum is located in two adjoining Victorian houses and Ireland’s oldest synagogue is located upstairs of the property. The proposed plan is to knock down these two buildings alongside three more terraced houses to allow room for a new museum that is six times the size of the existing one.
Included in the new development would be a theatre, two storeys deep, and to be excavated underground. A copy of the old facade would be set up. A large new zinc block building would be set in the old back yards. There would also be a restaurant, six toilets and a shop. The end result would be 600% larger than the existing museum!
As a visitor I have absolutely NO say in what happens in this area. But as an Irish citizen who loves our capital city I think it’s dreadful that such a move can be allowed to happen. My take on the situation was only heightened when I learned that there is another site nearby which would be much more suitable and convenient for all concerned but the said group of trustees are adamant that the existing premises be developed! Surely something can be done to save this beautiful part of Dublin! And more importantly surely something can be done to ensure the continued harmony of the lives of the long term residents of Portobello and the Jewish community!
On Sunday afternoon I had a beautiful stroll around the Portobello area. Stopping for lunch in a local pub (and delicious it was too). The sun was shining and it was just divine to be walking along these streets of the leafy Dublin suburb. Again as I re-entered Kingsland Parade it saddened me to think that next time I visit the area, a great big zinc monstrosity will await me. Surely someone can reason with the trustees and allow the area to remain unscathed and stay with its current pretty picturesque appearance.
The world is a better place because we are all different and have all our own beliefs. But the world would be a better place still if we could continue to appreciate the beauty that we already have and allow it to remain. There’s always the right time and the right place for development. Surely the right place can be found for this new museum and allow the present site to remain intact!