You are probably too young to remember them pulling down the Theatre Royal. People used to go to Hawkins Street to watch the demolition and read the notices that said "positively final week of performance", that kind of thing.
This wit, such as it was, did not compensate for the loss of the magic. And what magic for the 3,600 the Royal accommodated at a time! You could hear Menuhin and Rubinstein. If your tastes ran in another direction, you could admire the Royalettes, high-kicking but rather decorous by our present standards. Then, if you had a few shillings, you could dine on Italian cuisine next door in Ostinelli's. But that's enough nostalgia.
None of us knew then what exactly would replace the Royal. I for one hoped for a decent modern building. Pastiche would have done at a pinch. We got Hawkins House.
Opinions vary as to which is the most hideous building in Dublin, but Hawkins House is close to the top of the list along with O'Connell Bridge House, the Civic Offices, the ESB offices and the Central Bank. And Liberty Hall. So I cheered the news that they mean to pull down both Hawkins House and Liberty Hall.
Once again, though, the question arises: what will go up in place of them? This time, at least we can be pretty sure that the new buildings won't be any worse -- that is well-nigh impossible -- but we could have had better assurances than the promise that the new Liberty Hall will be "bigger and taller".
Not that there is anything wrong with tall buildings in the right place. Liberty Hall and O'Connell Bridge House, apart from their own merits or demerits, are absolutely in the wrong place. The ESB offices are in the worst place of all, destroying the Georgian streetscape. Later, with the IFSC, the planners got it nearly right, but not quite right.
Dublin city councillors over half a century made some dreadful mistakes. James Joyce would have recognised the Dublin of 50 years ago as the city he described in 'Ulysses', set in 1904 -- just a little more decayed. The city of 2007 is massively different.
In the 1960s and later, the corporation, strangely, granted permission for ugly and excessively high buildings in the city centre while at the same time it restricted the height of new buildings on the lower Liffey quays; it still does, and it has thereby missed a chance.
Sooner or later, probably sooner, we are going to demolish the other abominations in our chief streets. Heaven knows what will replace them. What to do with Lower Fitzwilliam Street?
Sooner or later, too, Dublin Port will move up the coast and we will have the space to create a whole new city. We could get ourselves a magnificent waterfront, comparable with Shanghai or Chicago. We could take that Spire out of O'Connell Street and re-erect it in the central square of the new city. It should be just about high enough.
But where should the old city end and the new one begin? Environmentalists may not like my answer: no farther downriver than the interface of the Custom House and the IFSC. The latter should have its height doubled at least.
The same goes for the new buildings that stretch down from it, many of which are decent pieces of modern architecture but simply too low to make a substantial visual impact.
Next, we should put the Connolly-Tara Street rail link underground. This would have to be done as part of an integrated public transport plan. Not so the fate of another famous feature nearby.
The Abbey Theatre, reconstructed in the 1960s, does not belong on the same scale of awfulness as some of the above, but it is bad enough. Recent, or fairly recent, tinkerings have improved the facade and the auditorium. Nothing, however, can get away from the fact that it is the wrong shape for a theatre. It should be rebuilt to resemble as closely as possible the original Abbey, only more comfortable.
And it should be built on the original site. The offer of a site on the quays is an improvement on an earlier proposal, a location on the southside, but the national theatre, the most tangible icon of the Irish cultural renaissance, deserves to stand on the ground it hallowed.
Never mind the cost. If these things are worth doing, they are worth paying for. Ministers have taken to laying their hands on their hearts and swearing that they will complete the National Development Plan. If they want to add an extra few billion, Ireland is one of the most credit-worthy countries in the world.
But money is no use in the absence of intelligent planning, and planning for Dublin is still confused and patchy. Harder to achieve than any of the ideas mentioned above is the revitalisation of O'Connell Street and the surrounding areas. For this raises the question: where in the 21st century is the city centre?
And all of this is, as the ancient Greeks would have said, political. Political in the broadest sense; political, too, in the details; and political in that so much of Dublin's troubles derive from the awfulness of modern Irish politics.
In the years when the city crumbled, there was little that cash-strapped politicians could do. When we began to prosper, the administrative structures were all wrong. They are still wrong, and we need, at a minimum, popularly elected mayors and a Greater Dublin Authority.
More than that, though, we need people with imagination. Could our present rulers permit a cultural crime equal to the destruction of the Theatre Royal? I wouldn't bet on it.