Dublin City Council has announced a €60 million plan to redevelop Parnell Square in the north inner city as a cultural quarter, in a project it describes as the “most important in 100 years.”
The centrepiece of the redevelopment plan is the relocation to Parnell Square of the Central Library from its current site in the Ilac shopping centre, with library entrances onto Moore St, Henry St and O'Connell St.
The library will move into an empty former school which dominates the northern side of the Georgian square at the top of the capital’s main thoroughfare O’Connell St.
The library will be located close to the Hugh Lane Gallery and the Dublin Writers’ Museum which, along with the nearby Irish Writers' Centre, are central to the council's long-term plans to develop a "cultural cluster" in the area. The Gate Theatre is also nearby.
The plan is described as part of the capital’s “grand civic spine” along which inner-city Dublin’s primary civic, cultural and historic venues are located. Beginning in Parnell Square, the northern section of the spine incorporates O’Connell St, crossing over the river Liffey to Christchurch Place and College Green where it extends southwards to Grafton St and St Stephen’s Green, and eastwards to Merrion Square.
The council is said to be seeking philanthropic funding for the development of the new quarter.
Parnell Square has played an active role in the history of the capital, and nation, and was central to developments surrounding the Easter Rising in 1916. More recently it hosted another deeply significant event for Irish people, when Queen Elizabeth II laid a wreath in the Garden of Remembrance during her historic and extremely successful four-day state visit in May 2011.
The memorial garden is located in the far north of the square and commemorates Irish freedom fighters from various uprisings over the centuries.