WATCH - Hidden City: Stunning proposal to transform 'Limerick's forgotten lanes'

Alan Owens

Reporter:

Alan Owens

AN architect who has produced a stunning visual representation of how the ‘forgotten lanes’ of Limerick city could be transformed into a “pedestrian and people-centred spine” has argued that there is no need to pedestrianise O’Connell Street in turn.

With the €9.1m O’Connell Street revitalisation scheme long stalled and facing further delays, an animated research project proposing to transform a kilometre stretch of the city’s mews lanes is demonstrating what could happen with some “bold and fresh thinking”.

A video, Hidden City by architect and UL graduate Eleanor Moloney, has been getting a considerable reaction on social media in recent days.

The Emly-based architect, who has a practice in Tipperary Town, told the Limerick Leader that her research, funded by a City of Culture scholarship, was focused on regenerating the city.

Her research, which is on display in LSAD until mid-August, included a full audit of each and every lane in Georgian Limerick, “a comprehensive set of lanes the whole way through Limerick that are totally unused,” as Eleanor explained.

“This whole proposal came out of seeing the potential of these lanes,” she said.

“Everyone talks about Georgian Limerick and you can’t help but appreciate that its cultural value is pretty much intact, it is incredible actually. But all conversations start with the problems and I decided to engineer a solution.

“So if you go around the back of the Georgian houses, some of the mews houses are still intact, a lot of them have been demolished, so there is no issues with conservation, fire and access. Services are already existing, they don’t take up a lot of room and are at a nice scale.

“It became obvious that there is one existing lane - and there are three points where it is interrupted - but essentially, it will bring you from Ellen Street all the way up to Joseph Street, right parallel to O’Connell Street.

“There is a lot of talk about O’Connell Street and pedestrianising it, but actually you don’t need to - you could use this with existing points and you could literally have a pedestrianised spine down through the centre of the Georgian block,” she added.

The proposal, which imagines splitting the lanes into nine distinct blocks, has been lauded as “simply wonderful” by Leader columnist Nigel Dugdale on Twitter and “the kind of bold and fresh thinking needed to make Limerick a living city again”, by former Leader editor Alan English.

Several others said it was “amazing” and “a fantastic idea”.

Eleanor acknowledged that she hoped it would “start a debate”.

“It could be done piecemeal, there are nine blocks and each block could have its own flavour. And it would be cheap.

“When I started the research there was over 13% unemployment, now we are talking about full employment and a housing crisis - the country has changed over the course of the research,” she added.