NOTHING HAPPENS quickly in stately Dún Laoghaire, so it came as a surprise when this week the Harbour Board did what it said it would do in July, and started pulling down the 1960s sheds on Carlisle Pier, where millions of emigrants said goodbye to Ireland as they passed through the old mailboat terminal.
Yesterday, the board lodged an application with the council for temporary permission to open up Carlisle Pier “as a viewing, general exhibition and promenade area . . . in sympathy with the surrounding environment”. Original cast-iron columns and anything else that can be kept from the original 1850s railway shed will be preserved, says a spokesperson for Dún Laoghaire Harbour. And it seems from reports by conservation architects Shaffrey (advisers to the board) that these are more or less all that’s left from the 1850s building.
So while Green Party TD Ciarán Cuffe – who said in his own press release “I don’t think anyone would miss the newer 1960s building surrounding the old Victorian structure” – was demanding that the demolition be stopped, other local politicians were delighted.
Local Labour councillor Jane Dillon Byrne described the sheds as “a hideous construction” and said pulling them down was an excellent idea. “I hope the new plans will make the pier accessible to the public.”
Plans for building a landmark on the pier – Daniel Libeskind had drawn up plans, but Irish architects Heneghan Peng won a competition for the structure – died about a year ago when the preferred bidder chosen to develop it pulled out. Can locals now look forward to taking the air there next summer?