This is the opposite view of Merchant's Arch looking north, from 1969. Merchant's Arch takes its name from Merchant's Hall, a building next door which is now a restaurant and bar. The building at the left of the image has been opened out to the side in the intervening years, creating premises for small shops. Merchant's Arch, as has been described on this blog before, is a main gateway to the pedestrianised area of Temple Bar. Prior to the mid-1980s, the area had fallen into a state of neglect.
As shops closed down in Temple Bar, they were not replaced, and many businesses moved out of the area. As the area became more and more decrepit, CIE (now Dublin Bus) gained ownership of most of the area and intended to build a large central bus station there. While they awaited approval for these plans, they began to lease the existing buildings at low rents to small businesses such as art galleries, restaurants and shops. An awareness began to grow that something valuable was happening, that a bohemian and arty district was developing. This was something that Dublin had entirely lacked, and a movement began to swell to protect the area from CIE's development plans.
An Taisce, Ireland's conservation association, looked at the architectural heritage of Temple Bar and recommended in 1985 that the area be preserved and protected. The bus station plan was abandoned, and government funding and tax incentives were created to encourage growth in the area.
In recent years there have been many mixed feelings on what Temple Bar has become, with its preponderance of bars and pubs. However, I think the one thing we could all agree on is this: much better that than an eyesore of a bus station.
WIL 57, National Photographic Archive
Sean Murphy, A Short History of Temple Bar (1994)