The Liberties is rapidly emerging as Dublin’s Innovation District – a mix of vibrant community life, great workplaces, diverse local businesses and leading-edge start-ups, and a lively social and cultural scene. That’s the message delivered by The Liberties Business Forum and Dublin City Council at the Liberties Enterprise Day, a series of events hosted in partnership with Bank of Ireland and aimed at showcasing the very best that the area has to offer.
“The Liberties is undergoing a period of exciting transformation”, says Anthony Joyce, the chairperson of Liberties Business Forum. “Major new investments across healthcare, digital enterprise, tourism and the physical environment are underway. The area’s business sector is vibrant and diverse, with independent retailers, new cafes and eateries, design studios, creative enterprises and start-ups and a growing craft food and drink sector all adding to the vitality of its historic commercial streets.
“From our perspective, we have all the attractions needed to position The Liberties as Dublin’s Innovation District and as an integral part of commercial life in the city.
“Innovation districts around the world are marked out by a dense mix of research-orientated anchor institutions such as third-level colleges or teaching hospitals, high-growth firms, a diverse start-up scene for tech and creative enterprises and an attractive live-work-play environment. All the ingredients are there to make that happen in Dublin 8.”
Recent and upcoming investment in the area includes:
• The development of the new national children’s hospital (NCH) and the expansion of St James’s Hospital. St James’s plans to develop a world-class national paediatric centre, co-located with an adult teaching hospital by 2021 and with a further phase of work planned to incorporate a maternity hospital.
• Plans for the Digital Hub, Ireland’s largest digital cluster, and the Guinness Enterprise Centre to double in size. Both enterprise clusters are key players in attracting indigenous and international enterprises to Dublin 8
• The development of three major hotels, resulting in 1,000 new hotel rooms in the area.
• The recent opening of the Pearse Lyons Distillery on James’s Street, which followed the opening of Teeling Distillery on Newmarket in 2015, restoring The Liberties as a hub for traditional industries, craft brewing and distilling, after near-terminal decline in the 20th century.
• Diageo Ireland’s announcement last week of a major redevelopment of its historic St James’s Gate campus to create a major new city centre quarter of residential, commercial and leisure buildings.
The Liberties is also undergoing significant public-sector investment with new parks and amenities, street renewal programmes and ambitious public realm plans for Francis Street and Newmarket. The most recent addition to the area, Weaver Park on Cork Street, was unveiled in September. In all, the City Council has a pipeline of almost €15m worth of projects either completed or planned for the coming years.
“Strategically Dublin needs the Liberties as a counterpoint to the Silicon Docks,” says Peter Finnegan Council’s Area Manager. “In this historic quarter of Dublin, where people lived outside of the walled city, ideas flourished and innovation thrived. Our vision is to build on the innovation that exists so that this part of Dublin can be a world centre of excellence in innovation, health and well-being.
“The hospital cluster, combined with the artisan food and craft shops, linked to the holistic living tradition of the area, will provide a unique basis for the enrichment of existing industry and the development of new businesses. The new hotels and student accommodation will open up what is the most significant tourism district in Dublin, as well as creating demand for restaurants, shopping, and leisure facilities.
“The opportunity of linking digital innovation and medical care provided for by the Digital Hub, the Guinness Enterprise Centre and the Children’s Hospital, can make Dublin a world leader in medical technology. Now is the moment to invest, start business and live in Dublin’s Liberties.”
The event was addressed by a number of local business leaders, including CEO of St James’s Hospital, Lorcan Birthistle; Manager of the Guinness Enterprise Centre (GEC), Eamonn Sayers; Chief Executive of the Children’s Hospital Group, Eilísh Hardiman; CEO of SICCDA, Michael Conlon; Managing Director of DHR Communications, Catherine Heaney; Jack Teeling of Teeling Whiskey; and Lindsay Nguyen of Swift Comply.