The Iveagh Trust marked its 130th anniversary in 2020. Founded with an initial endowment of £50,000 by Sir Edward Cecil Guinness (later 1st Earl of Iveagh) in 1890, the Trust has gone on to become one of Dublin’s best known charitable institutions.
The physical makeup of The Liberties is as much dominated by the Iveagh Trust as it is by Lord Iveagh’s more famous commercial operation – St James’s Gate Brewery. The fabulous wealth that the Guinness family amassed in the 19thC from their globally celebrated brand of Irish black stout was poured into charitable endeavours across this area of the city. Housing for families, a hostel for working men, community and sports facilities, a new park, a market hall: the legacy and iconic buildings of Edward Cecil Guinness and his successors still dominate the area to this day.
The Iveagh Trust and its sister trust in the UK, the Guinness Trust, sought to address one of the most pressing problems in the crowded city centres of the late 19thC, the lack of quality, affordable housing, particularly for the working poor. The celebrated Bull Alley scheme saw a significant urban quarter between Bride Street and Patrick Street cleared in 1900 and redeveloped with new apartments, a public baths, a play and education centre and a new city park – the largest urban regeneration scheme then conceived in the city. The nearby Kevin Street complex was developed in phases from 1894, in the 1930s and right up to the 1950s. The Guinness family also participated in the Dublin Artisans Dwelling Co. – a semi-commercial endeavour to develop artisan housing for the working classes of the city. The DADC operated from the 1880s until after the Second World War and its famous redbrick terraces define areas such as The Coombe, Stoneybatter and John Dillon Street.
Guinness family participation in the Iveagh Trust continued through the 20thC, and the Trust expanded into other areas of the city including Rathmines and Crumlin. In the early 21stC, 130 years after its inception, the Trust continues to develop social housing across the city. Modern schemes have been developed in Swords, Clongriffin, Cork Street and Ballyfermot. The Trust continues to maintain its Iveagh Hostel at Bull Alley as an essential outreach to the destitute. And plans are afoot for Iveagh Trust involvement in the reimagining of Lord Iveagh’s old stomping ground of St James’s Gate Brewery. The new Guinness Quarter redevelopment of 12 acres of the redundant brewery lands south of James Street will include an element of social and affordable housing administered by the Iveagh Trust as an approved housing body.
Not bad value for Sir Edward’s £50,000.