Friday, 1 June 2018

Dublin loses landmark
corner kiosk and café

The Kiosk was landmark on the traffic island at the junction of Adelaide Road and Leeson Street (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

I suppose it is because I am in Dublin only occasionally at the moment that I notice changes on its streets in a way that I may never noticed them before.

On my way across the city yesterday, from Saint Vincent’s Hospital in South Dublin to Bloom in the Phoenix Park, I noticed that the once-iconic coffee shop and kiosk at the corner of Adelaide Road and Leeson Street is now closed.

The Kiosk closed suddenly last September [2017] after 38 years in business.

‘Dear Customers, sadly the kiosk has had to close. I wish to thank everyone for their custom and friendship over the past 38 years. Good luck to you all for the future,’ read a paper note placed in the window by the former owner, Ned McCarthy.

The Kiosk was built in 1929, and first served as a water pressure station and public toilets before it became a popular small café. It was designed by Michael Moynihan, the architect who also designed the former public toilets at Saint Stephen’s Green.

Michael Moynihan was Dublin borough surveyor (1925-1935). He was born in Co Roscommon in 1874 or 1875 and had moved to Dublin with his Mayo-born wife, Mary, by the time of the birth of his elder son, Thomas, in 1899 or 1900.

He joined the staff of Dublin Corporation’s engineering department and in 1901 was working as an assistant engineer under Spencer Harty. By 1906 he had been placed in charge of the Corporation waterworks, and in 1916 he was appointed deputy borough surveyor under Michael James Buckley.

He succeeded Buckley as the borough surveyor in 1925, and he continued to hold that position until he resigned 10 years later his resignation in 1935. This allowed him to concentrate on building the new aqueducts and service reservoirs that linked the water works and reservoirs at Poulaphuca with domestic water supplies in Dublin.

Moynihan designed the landmark brick kiosk on the traffic island at the junction of Adelaide Road and Leeson Street as a water pressure station, public toilets and kiosk.

The masonry is well-maintained and the visual interests include the 45 degree chevron pattern on parts of the two long elevations, and the parapet displaying the coat of arms of Dublin City.

For many decades, this small, quirky coffee spot was a delight to both local residents and workers, and to tourists too. Ned McCarthy told one news website that he had been forced to close the kiosk for personal health reasons and ‘dwindling’ business.

‘I tried as far as I could to keep it going. A lot of competition has arrived nearby, but I believe the right people can make it work,’ he said.

The building was being rented from Dublin City Council and 24 years were still left to run on the lease agreement. Web reports say records in the Companies Registration Office show that Ned McCarthy and Sunil Sharma are the directors of The Kiosk (Leeson Street) Limited, which was incorporated over 60 years ago.

When the Kiosk closed, Ned McCarthy said a number of parties had shown an interest in sub-letting the building, but Starbucks was not one of them. Earlier last year, a similar coffee kiosk in nearby Ballsbridge was bought by Starbucks for €330,000. The 37 sq ft site at the junction of Lansdowne Road, Pembroke Road and Northumberland Road was bought by Colum and Ciarán Butler, who run Starbucks’ franchises in Ireland.

Tastes of Ireland and
promises of Greece
at Bloom in Dublin

‘Mamma Mia! Here we go again’ … a taste of Greece by Tünde Szentesi at Bloom in the Phoenix Park (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Patrick Comerford

I have only become aware of the joys, delights and therapeutic value of a garden in recent years.

For many years, I could say quite bluntly that I do not do gardens … nor do I do garden centres.

Then, I found I was slowly changing my mind. I first went to the Botanic Gardens in Glasnevin to see the architectural engineering involved in building the Victorian glasshouses. I found myself enjoying a garden centre in Virginia, Co Cavan. And now I truly appreciate the work of kind parishioners who maintain the gardens at the Rectory in Askeaton, making it a place of solace, quiet, retreat, and a place to read and work quietly in these summer days.

I have been in Dublin for these two days for a hospital appointment and to see my GP, and quite by accident, through the kindness of a friend of a friend, I found myself at the opening day of the 12th annual Bloom, the gardening and food festival in the Phoenix Park, yesterday afternoon [31 May 2018].

This was a completely new experience for me, and one I had never planned intentionally.

Bloom was launched in 2007 to provide a showcase for garden plants, garden design, construction, horticulture and gardening as a hobby. It was based on similar successful formats such as the RHS Chelsea Flower Shows and RHS Hampton Court Palace shows.

Since then, Bloom has seen many highly creative garden designs and plant displays that have inspired and excited the public.

Bloom takes place in 70 acres in the heart of the Phoenix Park and is as much a food and drink show as it is a garden show. Food lovers meet top food and beverage producers, with insights into Ireland’s food industry, and sampling and buying the best of Irish food and drink.

‘The Sustainable Seafood Garden’ by Andrew Christopher Dunne … the overall winner at this year’s Bloom Festival (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

This year’s overall winner at Bloom is ‘The Sustainable Seafood Garden’ by Andrew Christopher Dunne, who lives in the coastal fishing village of Clogherhead, Co Louth.

He has been creating high-end, exclusive gardens for almost 20 years, and who is one of Ireland’s foremost garden designers. His ‘Sustainable Seafood Garden’ tells the story of the journey from tide to table of Irish fish and seafood.

His garden features two piers, one traditional and one modern. Moored to one of these piers is ‘Sustainability,’ a fishing boat with a difference – it also doubles as a kitchen that is playing host to some of Ireland’s top seafood chefs, preparing sustainable seafood dishes.

‘Mamma Mia! Here we go again’ by Tünde Szentesi … and a 450-year-old olive tree (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Two other gardens that caught my imagination yesterday afternoon were one with a promise of Greece and one that challenges the Wall that separates many Palestinians on the West Bank from their own gardens.

The garden ‘Mamma Mia! Here we go again’ is the work of Tünde Szentesi, a Bloom multi-award winner who moved from Hungary to Ireland in 2006 to pursue a new career in gardening.

Her garden creates a scene in which visitors can get ready to sing and dance, laugh and love all over again in advance of Universal Picture’s release of Mamma Mia! Here we go again in cinemas next month [July 2018].

Tünde Szentesi has created a Greek-style garden inspired by ABBA songs. Her garden captures the exotic location of Kalokairi with its beautiful landscape and Greek architecture, including the famous Hotel Bella Donna.

She uses Greek architectural elements, including white stone walls, patios, blue painted wooden doors and windows, alongside a bougainvillea and vine pergola with olive trees, figs, potted red geraniums and aromatic herbs, so that visitors are transported into the magical world of Mamma Mia.

The olive tree in her garden is over 450 years old, and the garden made me wistful for my visit to Crete next week.

The Wall separating Palestinians from their gardens and olive groves … Barry Kavanagh’s ‘Garden for Trócaire’ (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

Barry Kavanagh’s ‘Garden for Trócaire’ presents the plight of Defenders of Human Rights and the Environmental in Guatemala, Honduras, Zimbabwe and Palestine. It offers a platform for Trócaire to engage with visitors about its work with Human Rights Defenders and the fact that last year alone [2017], 188 people were killed while they defended their rights and the rights of others.

Barry Kavanagh is from Bailieborough, Co Cavan, and teaches horticulture and design with the Cavan-Monaghan Education Training Board. His garden is divided into four primary areas of geographical representation: Palestine, Guatemala, Zimbabwe and Ireland.

His garden includes art by Ciaran ‘Yohan’ Brennan, including a mural representing Trócaire’s work in Israel and Palestine and a sculpture of a young boy with scorched tree trunks as legs. A digital screen depicts people who have been killed lives while defending human rights and environmental rights.

‘Children of Lír’ by Brian O’Loughlin (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)

In addition, the 2018 Bloom Sculpture in the Park garden installation offers visitors an opportunity to walk through and interact with some of the best of Irish outdoor art in a garden-style setting.

This section includes new and previously unseen works by over 40 leading Irish artists, including Orla De Brí, Stephanie Huss, Bob Quinn, Anna Campbell, Ray Delaney and Liam Butler.

Lupins at Bloom in the Phoenix Park (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2018)