Thomas Street in ancient times was Slighe Mor one of the great roads crossing Ireland which met at the ford of hurdles on the Liffey near Church Street Bridge. The street was later named after the Augustine friary of St Thomas a Beckett founded in 1177 by order of King Henry II. It was originally St Thomas Street but the prefix was dropped. There has been a strong tradition of brewing and distilling on the street, John Power started distilling whiskey in1791 most of the fine buildings survive today. Further along the street on a site near Guinness another family the Roe's distilled Whiskey, this is the site of the largest windmill in Ireland minus its sails.
Henry Roe was best remembered for funding the cost of restoration of Christ Church in the late 19th century. Guinness is related with the street since 1759 Arthur Guinness lived on the street. Over the years this street was fondly remembered for its many and varied shops, from clothing, food, butchers, restaurants and bars. Of course street traders plied their trade on the street and still exist today.Recently I drove up Thomas Street and very felt sad to see the current state of the street. A few years ago Bob Geldof commented on our Dublin Quays, he said “the scene was like a mouth full of rotten teeth”.
Thomas Street today is in a state of destruction from a street that was a vibrant shopping area in Dublin it has changed so much. It is hard to believe that each day numerous tourists travel along Thomas Street on foot or on tour busses travelling to the Guinness Storehouse and on to Kilmainham jail and the Royal Hospital. Action to execute a plan to rebuild this historic shopping street and to restore the street to its former glory is urgently required.
Click the button below to Listen to 90 Day plan for the street
From the Irish Times Tuesday 30th April 2013
One of Dublin most historic streets is in danger of sliding into irrevocable decline, due to “State-sponsored dereliction”, a city business organisation has said. More than one-third of the buildings on Thomas Street in the southwest inner city are derelict, vacant or have been demolished, and this figure will grow if urgent action is not taken, the Thomas Street Business Association has said.
Businesses and organisations including the Guinness Storehouse, the National College of Art and Design and the Digital Hub Development Agency have come together to produce a 90-day plan to “save” the street. The plan aims to improve both the appearance and the perception of the street over a three-month period, to encourage shoppers and tourists to use the street and to show how it can again be an attractive and viable destination for enterprise.
“Although almost 1,000 people per day walk the street to visit the Guinness Storehouse, few find it a welcoming place. Vagrancy, dirt, litter, vacancy, dereliction, poorly maintained footpaths, lanes and buildings suggest the area is unsafe, a pocket of crime – a place to hurry through and not dwell,” association spokesman Killian O’Higgins said. “In fact An Garda Síochána report no significant difference in issues affecting visitors to Thomas Street compared to other areas in the city. But perception is reality,” he said. Over the course of the 90 days, local businesses will be improving their appearance by repainting shopfronts, and removing redundant signs, wiring and external shutters.
The NCAD will host a series of events including a Visual Artists Ireland conference, and graduates and students will be exhibiting work in shops along the street. A “business and visitor hub” will be opened to market and promote the street. There will be a number of cultural and entertainment events, including the Liberties Festival, and Dublin City Council will undertake “public realm” improvements to clean and fix paths and roads.
Pressure will also be brought to bear on the National Asset Management Agency to clean up buildings within its control and make them available for temporary uses. “State-sponsored dereliction is responsible for so many of the problems of the street. The State entered into agreement with developers, and large sites were amalgamated but then never developed.
“Now we also have increasing numbers of buildings in the control of Nama that are also being left vacant and are falling into dereliction. This dereliction of duty is resulting in the dereliction of the street,” Mr O’Higgins said. The association’s plan follows a report by the Dublin Civic Trust for the city council one year ago which found that “site assembly”, where groups of buildings were bought up for large-scale development, was spreading dilapidation throughout the street as intact buildings next to unsightly wasteground became abandoned.
The report also warned that rare early 18th-century buildings, some hidden behind later Georgian facades, were in danger of being lost entirely. The 90-day campaign gets under way this evening with a “townhall-style” meeting open to the public at 6.30pm in the NCAD.