Planners propose late 18th century building be protected

By Maurice Garvey

DUBLIN City Council planners have proposed a late eighteenth century former tannery building in Kilmainham, be added to the Protected Structure list.

The end-of-terrace three storey house at 31 Old Kilmainham was built in 1780, and is currently in use as offices.

31 Old Kilmainham 1

31 Old Kilmainham

According to a city planners report, Kilmainham was a significant tannery district (tanning animal hide into leather) in the 1840s and 1850s, with records listing five separate tannery businesses on Old Kilmainham alone.

Number 31 Old Kilmainham is a good example of a mid- to late eighteenth century house retaining its internal decorative plasterwork schemes.

The house is built on a site occupied by a large gabled house in the mid-seventeenth century and it is possible that the structure conceals fabric from an earlier building.

It is one of the larger houses surviving on this stretch of the street.

According to the report, from the medieval period, the area around Kilmainham was a centre of industry with the Liffey and Camac providing a power source for cloth and grain mills and a water source for use in the tanning industry.

The property is located to the south of a red hatch conservation area which covers the Royal Hospital Kilmainham, parts of Kilmainham village and the River Camac.

An entry in Griffith’s Valuation dated 1874-82 notes the subject property - 31 Old Kilmainham - as a “house in bad repair and offices in very dilapidated state.”

The annual valuation of the property had dropped significantly from £30.0.0 to £20.0.0.

According to the research, this may signify that the tannery business ceased operation by this time.

By 1884 the valuation of Nos. 29-33 Old Kilmainham had reduced further to £9.0.0 each and the houses were in use as tenements.

Griffith’s Valuation and contemporary street directories indicate that number 31 was used as tenement lodgings throughout much of the late nineteenth and early twentieth century and was used as a business premises in the latter part of the twentieth century.

The current owners, the Academy of Clinical Science and Laboratory Medicine, began leasing the property in the late twentieth century and subsequently purchased it for use as offices.

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