Tuesday, 6 December 2011

Saving historic heart of our towns

HIGH streets and town centres throughout Ireland have come to look the same in recent years, with regular department stores and the brash brand names of largely overseas multiples increasingly dominating the streetscape.

The result is that many cities and urban areas have lost their individual identities. Often, the only saving grace is some old or historical building that stands out because it is so different to the glass, steel and plastic facades of today. The venerable landmarks are usually officially ‘listed’ for preservation, whilst some simply escape the rush to modernisation.

However, there’s evidence that places which are retaining their historic environments are doing better economically. We’re told there is something in the human psyche that makes people enjoy being in historic environments. Sounds like a no-brainer, though obviously not to many commercial developers who ran riot during the boom years.

But, just think for a moment of how a town such as Clonakilty, in west Cork, can make the most of its built heritage, or why Adare, Co Limerick, always seems packed with tourists and coaches. The prime reason surely is that both are lovely places in which to be, enhanced by a deep sense of tradition and atmosphere.

The east Cork town of Youghal, famous for its built and natural heritage, sees a heritage-led regeneration plan as compensating in some way for huge losses in local manufacturing in the past decade.

Read the article @ The Irish Examiner


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