The name “Liberties” derives from jurisdictions dating from the arrival of the Anglo-Normans in the 12th century. They were lands united to the Dublin, but still preserving various rights and directly rule. This autonomy lasted all the way to 1840. Settlement in mass started In the late 1600s where French Huguenots weavers settled. The neighborhood was actually pretty prosperous for a time but this came to a halt thanks to the neighborhood’s strong participation in the Irish rebellions of 1798 and 1803 and the ensuing Act of Union, which let to major tariffs on any silk products produced in the Liberties. From this time on, the fate of the Liberties was sealed and the district quickly became poverty-stricken with many urban ills. But the Liberties continued to be a hot bed of revolutionary activity.
Many parts of the Liberties have been torn down and redeveloped as part of mid-century slum clearance efforts by the government. But much of the neighborhood remains in tact helping one imagine the working class grid that underpinned the district. But for the most part the Liberties is no longer a neighborhood for the destitute but has actually seen quite a lot of revitalization and even recent in-fill development. Many new crafting distilling and breweries companies have opened building on the neighborhood’s rich history with the Guinness Blockhouse.
The Liberties also supports a pretty high level of urbanity with compact rowhouse development mixing with many mixed-use streets. Urban commercial districts in the Liberties include , R110, Meath St, Francis St, R 137, and R 810 running along the entire length of the north edge of the district serving as the main route for Guinness visitors traveling to the Center City. The district also boosts one of Dublin’s longest running markets (Liberty Market), which feels more like a large flee market. I’d certainly like to see more greenery and trees in the district but not sure where they would good. Same issue with inserting a quality waterfront park, the space simply doesn’t exist without a major redesign of the river.
Click here to view my Liberties album on Flickr
* Highly walkable compact urban fabric.
* Excellent business district running across the Northern edge of the district on route R 810. Wonderful historic bldgs and eclectic businesses here. Several other business districts as well, especially on the edge touching Center City.
* Lots of solid urban infill especially at the north and southern boundaries of the neighborhood and along the R110 business district.
* Thanks to all this mixed-use fabric, excellent retail and cultural amenities throughout the district, especially the eastern half.
* Great access to the Center City.
* With the exception of the Guinness Tours, not a neighborhood crawling with tourist.
* Good access to a rail line and solid bike infrastructure.
* Definitively one of Dublin’s gritter districts given its historic working class and slum history. But the neighborhood has received significant investment over the past several decades and by most measures is a good place to reside.
* Historic architecture is general plain and unadorned but at times interesting (especially the 1-2 story wide but shallow rowhouses).
* Very few trees
* Park space a bit limited but seems to be getting better with Bridgefoot Street Park. No real waterfront park or rec trail along the Liffey. Just a sidewalk.
* Some industrial uses still exist along the river.