Temple Bar is one of the oldest parts of Dublin. The quarter is located directly adjacent to Wood Quay, one of the most significant Viking settlements ever discovered. Temple Bar is filled with history including the first performance of the “Hallelujah!” Chorus of Handel’s Messiah in 1741 on Fishamble Street at the west end of Temple Bar.
Despite it’s rich history, the neighborhood fell into a state of dereliction in the late twentieth century and was cited as unattractive area of the city even with its prime location.
In the 1970s, the State owned transport company, Córas Iompair Éireann (CIE), established plans to develop their headquarters in the largely unused area. The company began buying property in Temple Bar whilst awaiting planning permission and financing for the development. The property being purchased was rented out at prices that were far below the regular asking price of the surrounding area and these low rents began to attract independent stores, galleries and artists.
The area naturally began to grow into the “cultural quarter” of the city. Dubliners appreciated the area and began to object to CIE’s plans and eventually the plans were abandoned. In 1991, the government established Temple Bar Properties to oversee the sustained regeneration of the area.
Attraction of more foot traffic to the area became a priority and it became easy to acquire a liquor license for large bars and clubs. The notoriety of the area as a beacon of the Irish drinking culture travelled with its popularity as a cultural quarter and bachelor and bachelorette parties began to flock to Temple Bar, along with tourists looking for a taste of authentic Irish culture.
The dilution of the traditional spirit of the quarter was blatantly displayed when a McDonalds franchise opened in the main square of the area in 2013. The McDonalds is located meters from a Starbucks and close to a Costa Coffee. Previously, the huge pubs and clubs had at least attempted to masquerade as “traditionally Irish” with folk music and vintage Guinness ads plastered on the walls. However, now it seems that even the attempt at promotion of a faux traditional façade has disappeared.
Disappointment with what is now found in the city’s cultural quarter has been widely publicized in recent weeks after Huffington Post listed Temple Bar as one of the “World’s Top 10 Most Disappointing Tourist Destinations.” This will have come as no surprise to locals who will rarely venture into Temple Bar for its “traditional Irish pubs.” This is unfortunate, however, in that we should surely want to present the best of our culture to visitors. Following the publication of the Huffington Post list, Dubliners have come out in agreement with the list and begun advocating for stricter regulation in the area to preserve and restore what can be found of its authentic spirit.
With the phenomenon of famous tourist locations like New York’s Times Square being notoriously avoided by locals, how have tourist locations in your city maintained popularity amongst tourists and locals alike?
Credits: Images by Rebecca Mullen. Data linked to sources.