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Wednesday 30 July 2014

Sky bridge and bungee jump platform among designer's vision for Poolbeg makeover

Clodagh Sheehy

Published 14/07/2014|08:39

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Interior designer Michael Ó'Mara's plan for the Poolbeg chimneys
Interior designer Michael Ó'Mara's plan for the Poolbeg chimneys
Poolbeg Power station at the Pigeon House in Ringsend, Dublin City. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
Poolbeg Power station at the Pigeon House in Ringsend, Dublin City. Picture:Arthur Carron/Collins
Interior designer Michael Ó'Mara's plan for the Poolbeg chimneys
Interior designer Michael Ó'Mara's plan for the Poolbeg chimneys

A glass sky bridge running between the two Poolbeg ESB chimneys is part of an ambitious proposal by interior designer Michael O'Mara who feels strongly that the chimneys should be retained.

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The bridge would house a cafe accessed by staircases up the chimneys, and the buildings below would be converted into a museum and cultural centre.

A bungee jumping platform from the centre of the sky bridge is also part of the plan that would include an outdoor exhibition space, athletics track and marina with a yacht club and nightclub.

Dubliner Michael put his proposals to cabinet minister Leo Varadkar only hours before he left his tourism post to take up the health portfolio. He has also approached councillor Dermot Lacey.

"I see the chimneys as an iconic feature and as an opportunity to make something better of them now they have been decommissioned," Michael told the Herald.

"I don't know what it would cost, and it would certainly require some very skilled engineers. It would require quite a bit of redevelopment, but we could have a spectacular tourist attraction."

Michael, who spent four years working in Spain but returned to Dublin two years ago, says his inspiration came from seeing what can be done in the deserts of Dubai or in cities like Bilbao, Sydney and Paris.

"They all have spectacles that draw the masses from all around the world - the Guggenheim in Bilbao, the Opera House in Sydney, the Eiffel Tower in Paris," he said.

He added that the idea for the bungee-jumping platform is taken from the Stratosphere in Las Vegas.

Michael believes such an ambitious project could attract more tourists to visit Dublin, bring foreign investment and create sustainable jobs.

"If you take it that we have about six million tourists each year and if a quarter of those visited the sky bridge at, say, €5 a pop, do the sums. It would make money."

He suggests that a marina be built as part of the development with a boardwalk around it running into the city.

Michael admits the concept is "in a basic form", but hopes "it could become an inclusive development idea for the city" for the benefit of business, citizens and tourists.

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