Poetry Ireland: New home, new chapter
With Ireland a nation long-lauded for its poetic heroes, it’s fitting that the art form should be given an official headquarters in one of Dublin's most beautiful and historic 250-year-old townhouses on the city’s very first Georgian square. Poetry Ireland and the Irish Heritage Trust have recently received planning permission to extensively restore No. 11 Parnell Square to become the Poetry Ireland Centre. Intended to be a true cultural hub, the building will also house the custom-designed Seamus Heaney Working Poetry Library, performance spaces, a workshop area for all ages and more.
With nearly €1 million in funds raised to date, Poetry Ireland and the Irish Heritage Trust are now beginning a capital fundraising campaign to raise the remaining €4 million required to begin the next chapter in the building's life. The ambitious restoration promises to make a lasting and significant impact on the cultural and literary life of the country, as well as significantly bolstering the regeneration of Dublin’s north inner city.
Initially a private residence in what was then the city’s most coveted residential area, No. 11 was built by Luke Gardiner, one of Georgian Dublin’s visionary developers. It later took on many guises, housing The National Club, a members' club frequented by WB Yeats’ muse Maud Gonne and the nationalist John O’Leary, who featured in Yeats’ 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 iconic 'Dubliners'.
“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
The restoration works, helmed by McCullough Mulvin Architects, will include a careful conservation-led refurbishment of the house. The building’s new identity will see the basement function as an independent restaurant, with the ground floor and first floor housing the Poetry Ireland Centre, a vibrant cultural hub complete with elegant performance and workshop spaces, a café and bookshop, and the jewel in the crown, the Seamus Heaney Working Poetry Library.
An ideal companion to the area’s cultural institutions like Dublin City Gallery, The Hugh Lane, the Dublin Writers Museum, the Irish Writers Centre, The James Joyce Centre and the Gate Theatre, watch Poetry Ireland’s short video about this imminent artistic addition featuring poets Paula Meehan, Paul Muldoon, former US Vice President Joe Biden and journalist Olivia O’Leary, among many others.
Find out more at Poetry Ireland online.
Image credit: Beowulf Sheehan