01 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.

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