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Not just booze at Temple Bar

Ah, Temple Bar. Is there anywhere else in the city that divides opinion in such a way? The title 'Dublin's Cultural Quarter' often elicits snorts of derision from locals and not entirely without reason.

For years it has been a no-go area for anyone seeking to avoid hoards of drunken fools at night. By day many Dubs use it simply as a shortcut, stomping along its cobbled streets, avoiding teams of chuggers (charity muggers) on the way.

In the Noughties, any charm it possessed was overshadowed by its role as Europe's number-one hen and stag party destination. I would have had to be held at gunpoint before I'd have gone anywhere near it then, but now I've grown to love it -- in the daytime and early evening at least.

After enjoying a prosperous period in the 1700s, thanks to a new Customs House (located where the Clarence stands today) the area went into decline when Customs moved and by the mid-20th century it was pretty much a slum.

Things stayed in a state of disrepair until the 1980s when CIE bought up property with a view to building a bus depot. While waiting for planning permission, they let out empty premises at cheap rates, which brought in the creative types. The area prospered, CIE's plan was protested against and Temple Bar was saved.

Despite its booze-fuelled ups and downs it still retains that arty vibe with quirky shops, galleries and music venues. To see it at its best, wander through on a sunny day and it becomes apparent that Temple Bar is quite beautiful -- how I'd love to live in the flats in Crampton Buildings -- and has much to offer a local.

Top of the list to help you rekindle a fondness for it is the Temple Bar Cultural Trust website which has info on the Summer Sensational event running until Sunday.

The rest of the time there are the weekly markets, people-watching from cafes and some brilliant traditional Irish music.

Checking out a trad session with delighted people, here to experience our heritage, is a pretty good way to spend an evening. > Brenda McCormick

Temple Bar Cultural Trust, www.templebar.ie


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