The Liberties Business Forum Annual Report 2017

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The Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative is a collaborative partnership between Dublin City Council and local stakeholders and businesses in the commercial streets of The Liberties Dublin. The programme is working to revive one of Dublin’s most historic and colourful districts to create a highly attractive area within which to live, work, visit and invest.

The Liberties Business Forum was established in 2014 to represent the interests of large and small businesses and stakeholders in Dublin’s historic Liberties district. The Forum works in partnership with Dublin City Council to oversee and deliver The Liberties Business Area Improvement Initiative. Its an organisation to lobby for increased investment and improved services for businesses in Dublin 8 and a partnership to promote The Liberties as an integral part of the city’s commercial, social and cultural life.

This Annual Report sets out the achievements of the Business Area Improvement Initiative and the Forum in 2017.

The Liberties Business Forum Company Limited by Guarantee Registered Office: 1st Floor Eblana House, Marrowbone Lane, Dublin D08 E120 Company No: 562358


Let’s Go to The Movies! Culture Night at The Digital Hub Photo credit: Peter Houlihan Photography for The Digital Hub

OUR COMMUNITY Chairperson’s Statement The Liberties Business Forum brings together small, medium and large businesses along with the institutions of The Liberties with the shared purpose to make The Liberties THE best area in Dublin to live, work, visit and invest. As businesses and institutions we can have a real and positive impact in the community. This is happening. As chairperson, I have seen how this forum has had a positive impact on the community, with a small flavour highlighted in this report. In addition to supporting the community, our annual report highlights some of the achievements of the Forum over the last year. The Liberties Investment morning in October 2017 is one of those achievements. Investors heard about the revitalisation in the area, with over €1 billion of capital investment underway, with at least another €1 billion planned. The investors heard about the priceless intellectual capital being cultivated in our world class business incubators interwoven in the most historic part of the city. We will continue to run these events to give investors a chance to connect. Our meetings of the Liberties Business Forum are always fascinating with the interaction of the members as well as getting a glimpse of the ambitious plans for the area. As a group we can provide feedback, support and connections to help those plans become a reality. Since the establishment of the forum in 2013 we’ve seen previously empty shops occupied, derelict sites being filled and a very positive social and cultural uplift in the area. The new National Children’s Hospital is now well underway, and due to be completed in 2022, while Diageo has announced exciting and transformative plans for the St. James’ Quarter. There is a buzz in the Liberties which is attracting further investment. Our aim is to continue to help shape this investment to ensure we keep the open vibrant community spirit and personality of the area. I would like to offer our condolences to Deirdre Lyons and the family of Dr. Pearse Lyons who died in March 2018. Pearse has left an outstanding legacy. Pearse reconnected with his roots in The Liberties, by restoring the former St. James’s Church and launching the Pearse Lyons Distillery in the summer of 2017. The vision for the Liberties is exemplified in what the Lyons family have created from a derelict site only a few years ago. A vibrant open business celebrating the heritage of the area with a modern twist. All the members are passionate about the area because we are all connected to the area either through our work or living in the area. In particular, I would like to acknowledge the contribution of Jack Roche who recently left the forum after retiring from his business on Meath Street. Its remarkable that Jack had almost 100 years of a family connection to Meath Street. We wish Jack well in this new chapter of his life. As some members move on, we welcome new members to the forum who will continue to make The Liberties and Dublin 8 the best area in which to live, work, visit and invest.

Anthony Joyce - Partner, Anthony Joyce & Co Solicitors, Oliver Bond Street

Thomas Street Terrace Reveal

led. Highlight Student Housing



Joyce & Co Solicitors, Oliver Bond Street


DHR Communications, Francis Street

Bruce Phillips

Dublin City Council South Central Area

Richard Hamilton

Future Analytics Consulting - Independent member

Vincent Callan

St James’s Hospital

Jack Roche

Greengrocer, Meath Street

Nicholas Gore-Grimes

Cross Gallery, Francis Street

Fiach MacConghail

The Digital Hub Development Agency (App. July 2017)

Jennifer Kennedy

J K Consulting - Independent Member (App. June 2017)

Angela Smith

Diageo Ireland, James Street (Res. April 2017)

Christian Hayden

A4 Art, Thomas Street (Res. April 2017)

*Acting as Company Secretary


Diageo Ireland, James Street

Joanne Kearney

The Digital Hub Development Agency

Lisa Jameson

Teeling Whiskey Company

Peter Finnegan

Dublin City Council South Central Area (to October 2017)

Aoife Carragher

Reilly’s Pharmacy, Cornmarket

Neil Cullen

The Guinness Storehouse

Bernard Hanratty

National College of Art & Design (to October 2017)

Eamonn Sayers

The GEC, Taylor’s Lane

Gavan Woods

St Patrick’s Cathedral, Patrick’s Close

Jennie Moran

Luncheonette @NCAD, Thomas Street

Sebastian Enke

DHR Communications

Melissa Meehan

The Digital Hub Development Agency, Thomas Street

EXECUTIVE Stephen Coyne

Programme Coordinator

Street Art at St James’s Gate, James Street

LIVE. WORK. VISIT. INVEST The Liberties Business Forum is working to transform the commercial heart of Dublin 8 through public and private sector investment, to create a more vibrant and attractive city neighbourhood. •

The Liberties is very much open for business! We welcomed new additions to our main commercial streets — Thomas Street, Francis Street and Meath Street— and to the enterprise clusters in the area, and we are watching an unprecedented transformation of Newmarket beginning to take shape. Vacancies are down, demand for premises is strong, and 2018 promises to see a number of great new opportunities to open shop here in Dublin 8.

Enterprise promotion was to the fore in 2017 with the publication of new online resources, participation in the inaugural ‘Ireland’s Most Enterprising Town’ competition, and a highly successful Liberties Enterprise Day in October, partnering The Liberties Business Forum with our local Bank of Ireland colleagues to showcase entrepreneurship and small business in the area. An inaugural Liberties Awards was launched by The Liberties Festival and its sponsor, Diageo, celebrating longstanding and new local enterprises and community activity in the area.

Overseas visitor numbers to the area rose again in 2017, bringing the culturally curious to Dublin 8. In August, The Liberties welcomed its newest visitor experience — the Pearse Lyons Distillery at St James’s — a stunning reimagining of a former church creating an iconic new attraction for Dublin. At year’s end, 1,000 new hotel rooms were under development in The Liberties at The Coombe, Blackpitts and Kevin Street. Two new visitor attractions are set to open in 2018—the Dublin Liberties Distillery and The Vaults, while Diageo is making major investment in The Guinness Storehouse and a new distillery and visitor centre for Roe & Co Irish Whiskey in the former Guinness Powerstation.

The State’s largest infrastructure project, the National Children’s Hospital, advances at St James’s Hospital campus. The main hospital itself saw an impressive programme of campus renewal with the opening of MISA , a new private clinic, research facilities, improved circulation and staff facilities and progress on a new entrance to St James’s Hospital from Fatima Luas stop. Liberties businesses and institutions are now collaborating to develop a Health & Well-being Quarter around St James’s Hospital, integrating enterprise and innovation with social and community benefits.

Dublin City Council has an ambitious programme of public realm projects underway for The Liberties and its surrounds. An estimated €15m is being invested in streets, public spaces, green areas and amenities, and community facilities. 2017 saw the opening of Weaver Park, a flagship public amenity for the area and the first major park to be developed in The Liberties since St Patrick’s Park was laid out by Lord Iveagh in 1904. The Council also agreed major environmental improvements for Francis Street, Newmarket and Bridgefoot Street.

A series of major cultural events filled our calendar this year including the inaugural Culture Date with Dublin 8 in May, The Liberties Festival in July, a lively Culture Night in September, and a major symposium and community event marking the medieval Royal Abbey of St Thomas the Martyr in October. The Liberties is firmly ‘on the map’ as a destination for culture, community and arts events.

Our businesses continued to work to support the vibrant community life of the area: creating and sustaining local jobs, providing a wider range of services, sponsoring community development and learning programmes and promoting a safe and positive environment.

OUR COMMUNITY My name is Anthony Joyce and I’m a partner at Anthony Joyce & Co Solicitors on Oliver Bond Street. Even though we are a small business with 16 employees, we try to create some positive value to the local community. For example, we secured charitable status for a local breakfast club so it can receive donations tax free. We make regular contributions to local charities and clubs, including the Oliver Bond Simon Community gym and football team. And we’ve hired local residents and provide work experience to local school goers. Last year we entered into a contract with the Bridgefoot Street’s Men’s Shed and community garden to plant and maintain our on-street office planters – we bring the custard, they help to grow the rhubarb!

My name is Catherine Heaney and I am the MD of DHR Communications on Francis Street. We are a PR company based on Francis Street. The Liberties is part of our brand and much of the work we do centres on the area , and its businesses, institutions and community. We manage communications for National College of Art & Design, including its annual Graduate Showcase. We also actively support local community organisations, for example through our free communications workshops, which in 2017 included participation from D8-based Gaisce Awards, Solus Project and The Liberties Dublin.

We are the Teeling Distillery and since 2015 we’ve welcomed over 200,000 people to the Teeling Distillery & Visitor Centre in Newmarket. Throughout 2017 & 2018 we’ve run several events aimed at bringing in the local community to our distillery namely our seasonal craft fairs and Christmas treelighting. We also feature various local suppliers for our café offerings. Last year we also donated to the Solas Project on Marrowbone Lane; SICCDA, Little Flower Penny Dinners and The Liberties Breakfast Club at Myra House. When we release our Commemorative Cask later in summer 2018— namely the first batch of whiskey produced from our new distillery and the first distilled in Dublin since the 1970s— the proceeds from the sale will be donated to local charities, and we’ll be running an event explicitly for our neighbours in The Liberties.

My name is Fiach MacConghail and I am the CEO of The Digital Hub is an enterprise cluster of over 100 mainly IT and media companies located in The Liberties. As a state agency, we also have an important role to help develop skills and employment opportunities in the local community and to support the wider urban regeneration of The Liberties. In 2017, The Digital Hub added a new community learning programme to its wellestablished collection of digital learning programmes designed for the community. Called The Liber8 Music Project , the programme is run with our Francis Street-based neighbours, the BIMM Institute Dublin. It aims to give young people in our community who may have limited exposure to music and digital media, an opportunity to immerse themselves in a creative programme, whilst also developing skills to support their future careers. Twenty young people took part in the pilot programme in its first year and it will continue into 2018. The Future Creators programme and the Future Creators Cadets programme, established in 2011 and 2015 respectively, continued this year. Collectively over 70 young people completed these programmes in 2017. These programmes continue to be run with local partners, the National College of Art and Design and H2 Learning, to give children and young people in our community the 21st Century Digital Skills that are so necessary in today’s world. The Digital Hub also worked with local groups, SICCDA and An Cosan, to deliver a range of digital workshops to people in Dublin 8. We are also opening up our campus to the wider public. In September, as part of the Culture Night festival, The Digital Hub collaborated with the Audi Dublin International Film Festival and the Irish Film Institute, to hold a special outdoor screening for the local community of ‘Dublin 8 on Film’, a programme of films shot in Dublin 8 over the years and now preserved in the IFI Irish Film Archive. Attendees also left with some delicious homemade pear chutney, harvested from our famous pear tree by the Bridgefoot Street Men’s Shed.

My name is Gavan Woods and I am the Administrator of St. Patrick’s Cathedral – the National Cathedral of the Church of Ireland. In addition to being a place of worship, as well as a major site of interest in Dublin, St Patrick’s Cathedral engages in outreach, support and cooperation with various cohorts in our neighbourhood including youth, people with disabilities, aged persons, mental health, education and disadvantaged groups. Over 80 groups are engaged in various programmes including a locally-based residential youth programme focused on diversity, identity and reconciliation. More than €120,000 was distributed in 2017 to charities – locally, nationally and internationally, which was generated by congregation, pilgrims and visitors to the Cathedral. Many fundraising concerts took place, including Glen Hansard who played as part of the inaugural Jonathan Swift Festival and this concert benefited 5 local charities – Little Flower Penny Dinners; NALA (Bull Alley Street project); The Alice Leahy Trust; Teen Counselling Services; and the Swift Education Series (First Aid and Sign Language Training). Our Community Department also works closely with the Cathedral’s Education Department who facilitate free visits, organised programmes and workshops for schools, community groups and families locally and nationally at featured dates in the calendar.


Vacancy and dereliction in the area were identified as key issues by The Liberties Business Forum when it first convened in 2014. In the period since, The Liberties has experienced very considerable improvement, with a steady pace of redevelopment and building renewal. •

As this point, many of the problem vacant sites in the area are earmarked for development. Some have permitted developments planned or underway. The most significant activity is along Cork Street, however smaller sites on the main commercial streets, such as Francis Street and Meath Street are also returning to use.

In terms of shop and premises vacancy, the situation of most streets is significantly improved from the start of the Initiative in 2014. All available units are now taken on Francis Street for example. There is increased demand on Thomas Street, while Meath Street has a number of vacant units but is starting to improve.

Newmarket has emerged as a major regeneration area with the announcement of a €200m mixed use scheme around the marketplace, three student housing developments either open or under development, a second whiskey distillery on the way and a 200-bed hotel set to open in November 2018.

In October 2017, Diageo announced plans to regenerate over 12 acres of its historic St James’s Gate campus into a new mixed use urban quarter, including streets, public spaces, residential and commercial development.

Work commenced on a major redevelopment of the former Grand Canal Harbour, to the west of St James’s Gate, to include residential, office, apart hotel and cultural uses.

Rooms with a view. Uninest New Mill Student Accommodation on Mill Street

Best in Show. The Merchant O’Shea’s, Bridge Street


Bringing the local business community of The Liberties along on the process of revitalisation is an essential component to the area’s success. The Initiative canvasses the views of businesses with annual surveys. Our 2017 businesses survey highlighted: • Over 70% of respondents, when asked to register their confidence in the area as a location for their business, ranked The Liberties ‘7’ or above. In general, business confidence in 2017 was consistent with the upswing registered in 2016.

• 50% of respondents felt that business levels had improved in the past year, compared with 2016.

• Quality of place and the cleanliness and attractiveness of streets are the top concerns for businesses. 66% of respondents felt that Dublin City Council could do more to maintain the area and enhance the street cleaning regime.

• The Liberties Business Forum actively lobbied the City Council in 2017 for improved cleaning and attention to dereliction and illegal dumping. This has led to more regular washing of streets, more regular sweeping, more bins and more personnel. 50% of respondents felt that cleaning had improved in the area in the past year.

• Businesses ranked ‘the individuality of the offer,’ and ‘location and convenience’ as the two biggest attractions of the area to customers. 2017 saw new businesses establish in The Liberties; greater choice, particularly in the food offer; and a continued strengthening of the independent retail offer.

• The Shopfront Improvement Scheme in The Liberties has encouraged a higher level of repair, refurbishment and enhancement of shopfronts and building facades in the area. 20 projects were assisted by this scheme in 2017. Three-quarters of respondents to the survey said they would consider improvements to their premises in 2018.

• When asked what role The Liberties Business Forum should play in helping to shape the area, respondents suggested that branding and marketing The Liberties and lobbying for improved investment and further services and investment should be the key tasks of the area partnership.


Treasurer’s Statement The Liberties Business Forum CLG was incorporated as a company limited by guarantee having no share capital on 21st May 2015. There have been no financial transactions to the benefit of or by The Liberties Business Forum CLG from 1st July 2016 to 30th June 2017 (being the Financial period of this Annual Report). An Annual Return in respect of the Company was made to the Companies Registration Office on 4th October 2017. Brendan McLoughlin & Co. were appointed auditors to the Company for the period of this report. Compliance with Lobbying Act 2015 Returns have been made with Register of Lobbying in accordance with the provisions of the Lobbying Act 2015.

Hon Treasurer: Catherine Heaney Managing Director, DHR Communications, Francis Street May 2018

The Hardest Workers in Newmarket. Whiskey Stills at Teeling Distillery Photo credit: Teeling Whiskey


The Liberties Dublin

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