Monday, November 15, 2010

Smithfield Area Of Dublin

Smithfield Area Of Dublin, originally uploaded by infomatique.

Smithfield is an area on the northside of Dublin. Its focal point is a public square, formerly an open market, now officially called Smithfield Plaza, but known locally as Smithfield Square or Smithfield Market.

Notable landmarks include the Old Jameson Whiskey Distillery and the Observation Tower. The area also has a seasonal ice rink at Christmas.

There is no general agreement on the extent of the area known as Smithfield, but it might generally be said to incorporate the area bounded by the River Liffey to the south, Bow Street to the east, Queen Street to the west, and North Brunswick street to the north.

When I was young there was really only reason to visit Smithfield and that was to buy a horse. Of course, for many, the horse fair was a reason for not visiting that part of Dublin. Up until the 60's Ireland's best known whisky was made in the area but Jameson moved most of their operations to Cork and soon afterwards the neighborhood fell into deep neglect.

As the result of a renewal plan started in 2003, Smithfield slowly made a comeback. Every cobblestones was uprooted, cleaned, polished and put back. Tall, contemporary-looking lampposts were installed, and apartment and retail buildings were built around the square (it is now referred to as a plaza). I must admit that I was delighted to see the re-development especially as I live very close to Smithfield.

I had a number of friends (all from outside Dublin) who bought apartments but all of them moved on because they discovered that they did not actually enjoy living there. There was a lot of noise and anti-social behavior at night, the horse fair was a major problem for a multitude of reasons and there was a lack of suitable local shopping.

Many officials began to describe the area as the Northside's answer to Temple Bar but this was always an unrealistic claim.

Sadly, the recent economic downturn has not been kind to the neighborhood and according to Wikipedia: "Smithfield's iconic tower, and its observation deck, is no longer accessible to the public, as it has long-since been closed due to health and safety concerns. Today, the tower's exterior - which is loosely clad in sagging, protective green safety nets - acts as a highly-visible marker for the area's continuing and unexpected decline in fortunes".

Despite the regression of the area there are some positive aspects:

Without doubt the big success story is the "Old Jameson Distillery" which is now a museum dedicated to the creation of whiskey.

The legendary Light House Cinema is now located there.

The Maldron Hotel opened up a Smithfield branch last year and they have an excellent restaurant which serves excellent food.

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