Thursday 18 January 2018

Quay Street houses have been added to the protected list

The house at Lower Quay Street which is now a protected structure and which dates from the18th Century
The house at Lower Quay Street which is now a protected structure and which dates from the18th Century

Paul Deering

A city centre house that is over 200 years old has been added to the county's list of protected structures.

The building, at Lower Quay Street, is dilapidated but is an important survival of a particular period according to a local historian.

Initially, the Chief Executive of the County Council recommended the building not be included in the record of protected structures but councillors voted last Monday that it should be.

However, a motion from Councillor Declan Bree before a special meeting to consider the Draft County Development Plan was unanimously adopted after councillor accepted the building was of special historical interest.

Historian, Dr. Fiona Gallagher has pointed out that the house was one of the last remnants of, and a fine example of, vernacular house of the industrial-sea port period, an era which began in Sligo in the 1750s and lasted until the end of World War 1.

The three storey building, which is actually two houses, was in all probability, built on the walls of the late 17th century quay, said Dr Gallagher.

She dates the building from the late 18th century.

The adjoining building next door, formerly Chrystal's pub, was demolished around 2005.

Dr Gallagher said the building if properly restored would be an attractive addition to the streetscape and a counterfoil to the "concrete monolithic elevation" of the nearby Quayside Shopping Centre facade.

"Its restoration could provide a focal point for the appropriate regeneration of the surrounding semi-derelict sites and the restoration of the bounding walls of the customs yard which are still extant and re-enforces the historical identity and linkages with the past of this unique area," she said.

Initially, Cllr Bree expressed his disappointment that the Chief Executive Ciaran Hayes was not recommending the building's inclusion as a protected structure.

"We are told that no evidence has been submitted in support of the proposed inclusion and that there is insufficient information regarding the structures and that there are insufficient resources in the Planning section at present to carry out the necessary research and assessment with regard to the structure and therefore it is not considered opportune to include the structure in the Record of Protected Structures," said Cllr Bree.

He pointed out that in her acclaimed book, 'The Streets of Sligo' published in 2008, Dr Gallagher described the house as being of considerable antiquity.

Cllr Bree said: "I contacted Dr Gallagher in recent days and she has responded by providing me with additional information on the structure which I have now circulated.

"Dr Gallagher says the building is deserving of protection if any justice is to be done to the historic port area of Sligo following years of neglect.

"The external characteristic of the building of a single large many flued chimney stack on the long external street side wall indicates a building well over 200 years old. A surviving first floor window with a centre timber mullion is also an indicator of a similar age for the building. This evidence alone suggests this is a very rare survival from the early days of Sligo's maritime trading history.

"These external visible indicators are justification enough for the building to be given protected status. Such status will at least preserve the options for future detailed investigation of the building. If it is not given protected status today, then given its current state of repair, in all probability there will not be a building for the planning office to assess by the time the next development plan comes before us for consideration."

Sligo Champion

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