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The south west of central Dublin contains some of the most characterful areas of the city, including the Liberties, which were originally so called, not because they were free, but because they were not under the city jurisdiction and lay outside the medieval city walls. Another area in south west Dublin is referred to as the Coombe, which means a river valley, in this case of the Poddle, which has long been driven underground. Thousands of weavers toiled at their looms in the Coombe and its side streets in the past. Streets such as Chamber Street and Weaver Square are often called the "Huguenot streets" because the weaving industry was here by French Huguenot refugees fleeing the persecutions of Louis XIV in the late 17th Century.

As the main western approach to the City, it was not surprising that Thomas Street and its environs became a "hub" of agriculturally based commerce. Another tradition of this area is brewing – especially the brewing of Guinness. There has been a brewery at the present Guinness site since 1670. Yet beyond the colour of the stalls and the welcome smell of roasting malt, the area suffered throughout the 20th Century. Lack of investment and the rationalisation of traditional industry combined to cause both physical and social decay. By the end of the last century, this was an area crying out for a major urban renewal project.

In the mid-1990s the establishment of the Digital Hub alongside the Liberties/Coombe Integrated Area Plan kick-started an ongoing period of regeneration. Further plans for areas such as Cork Street and the Heuston Gateway on the western fringe of the inner city have ensured the future for this area will prove architecturally exciting.

Posted by Reflecting City Team on Wednesday, February 20, 2008
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