Tearing down your heritage

Discussion in 'Politics & Current Events' started by Frankfurt Blue, Oct 20, 2004.

  1. Frankfurt Blue

    Sep 3, 2003

    Dublin may trade roots of its history for a modern view
    Plane trees that survived Easter rising may be cut down as city tries to create a cafe culture plaza
    They survived the two most traumatic events in modern Irish history, the bloodbath of the 1916 Easter rising and the civil war that followed, and watched Ireland change from an economic basket case into one of the wealthiest countries in Europe.
    But an avenue of ancient trees lining Dublin's central boulevard, whose bullet holes and shell scars are a source of national pride, are facing the axe in what some call an act of official philistinism.
    In a controversy that has pitted the old Ireland against the new, an alliance of academics, artists and politicians is fighting to save the 100-year-old trees, which are to be swept aside to improve the view of Dublin's Spire - a towering silver needle shortlisted for this year's Stirling prize for architecture.
    A row is growing in Dublin over the landscaping around the 120-metre spire. Known affectionately by Dubliners as the "Stiletto in the Ghetto" or the "Stiffy near the Liffey", the €4m (£2.8m) giant pin was completed last year to replace Nelson's Pillar, bombed by the IRA in 1966.
    O'Connell Street had fallen into shambolic decay in the 1970s and until the €300m redevelopment which began during the economic boom of the late 1990s, it was a tatty collection of fast-food shops and bargain basements.
    Already, more than 50 historic London plane trees in O'Connell Street, which witnessed the beginning of the new state, have been felled to make way for the spire and the city's new tram system and to create a "cafe culture" plaza in front of the bullet-scarred General Post Office - scene of the 1916 rising, which left 500 dead and ravaged 100 buildings.
    But despite a motion by Dublin city council to protect the remaining 10 trees, developers plan to axe them, saying they do not fit plans to transform O'Connell Street into a European boulevard to rival the best of Paris and Barcelona.
    The outrage deepened when plans were made to bulldoze a house in nearby Moore Street dubbed "Ireland's Alamo", where the 1916 rebels made their last stand and decided to surrender in what was then the back room of a fish shop. It was to be destroyed to make way for a shopping centre.
    Christy Burke, a Sinn Féin councillor in Dublin, led the campaign which secured a reprieve for the Moore Street house last week. He said he would fight for the trees.
    "They are part of our history," he said. "Some people couldn't give two tosses about Irish history, particularly 1916. But 1916 has been hidden long enough - it is time to put it out in the open. We should be proud of it."
    Ciarán Cuffe, a Green party MP and former architect and town planner, said that destroying trees which were "witnesses to history" would be "a crying shame". Michael Conaghan, the Dublin mayor, said piles of letters of complaint had arrived on his desk every day and he would fight to get the old trees incorporated into the new design of the street.
    Imogen Stuart, a sculptor, who sent an angry letter to the Irish Times, said: "These trees are monuments, living witnesses to the liberation of Ireland. How can we destroy them?"
    A spokesman for the O'Connell Street Project said public consultation over the trees had just ended and a report would be considered next month before the city manager made a final decision. About 160 replacement trees would be planted.
    He said the felling of the mature trees was regrettable. "But from an architectural point of view, it was felt their height didn't lend itself to the design of the street in terms of symmetry."

    I for one am shocked at this approach to history and what is a national heritage. Could you imagine removing the Alamo or Nelson's Column (for example) just because some town planners and an architect think changes need to make progress and for cafe society to prosper?
  2. Juan Carlos II

    Jan 14, 2004
    Lytham St Annes
    Bolton Wanderers FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Rip it all down and modernise it with brushed stainless steel and smoked glass i say!
  3. malby

    malby Member+

    Liverpool FC
    Republic of Ireland
    May 11, 2004
    Rep of Ireland
    Drogheda United
    Nat'l Team:
    Ireland Republic
    This is the first I've heard of this!!! You got it from the Guardian? Nothing in press here. Anytime i've been in O'Connell street i've never even noticed these trees! So I don't know where they got that b/s about them being a source of pride! The GPO is the symbol of the rising for everyone here.
  4. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

    Jan 18, 2002
    If Dublin had its own Mayor Daley, you would have gone to bed looking at the trees, and you would wake up without a leaf in sight. ;)

    I agree that the GPO is the important monument and not the shrubbery around it, but I would be interested in learning more about this house where the last stand was made. That does sound as if it has some historical significance.
  5. Chicago1871

    Chicago1871 Member

    Apr 21, 2001
    Nat'l Team:
    United States
    They'd still be there, they would just all have big "X"s carved into them.
  6. Father Ted

    Father Ted BigSoccer Supporter

    Manchester United, Galway United, New York Red Bulls
    Nov 2, 2001
    Manchester United FC
    Nat'l Team:
    Ireland Republic
    It's not like the trees were shooting at the brits like James Connolly. They just happened to be there.
  7. Frankfurt Blue

    Sep 3, 2003
    They are still part of history and have a tale to tell. Is nothing sacred anymore?
    Doesn't sound like it.
  8. Chris M.

    Chris M. Member+

    Jan 18, 2002
    If you go to lower Manhattan, you will find the Church where George Washington was sworn in as the first President of the US on the front steps. The Church is there. The steps are there. Nothing else is the same.

    That doesn't really effect the historical significance of the place, and it didn't prevent Wall Street from becoming the financial center that it now is.

    I have been to Dublin several times. The first was as a small boy in the 70s. I have to say, it was shocking to see the city and try to comprehend that it was the capitol of Ireland. O'Connell street really was a pit. The last time I was there was around 1996, and it really had begun changing. I made it a point to go to the GPO and Dublin Castle specifically for the historical significance. I didn't notice the trees.

    Hey, I'm a friggin "tree hugger" if you ask around these parts, but in the middle of a City, the urban planning takes precedence, and if they think they can really turn the area into a boulevard to rival Paris or Barcelona, I say more power to them. Although, I am not sure they really grasp the concept of Irish weather when they talk about this "cafe society." :D

    I do think that incorporating greenery into the urban plan is a good idea, but if these trees don't fit the plan, then off they go. If people in Ireland are losing their awareness of the importance of the Easter Uprising, then that is an educational problem, and clearly these trees have not helped.
  9. cnoc

    cnoc New Member

    Dec 19, 1999
    up the airy mountain
    O'Connell Street has trees?

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