The team behind Mart, a local arts organisation that runs a visual arts gallery, provides studio space and puts on community events, are afraid they could be kicked out of the beautiful old Rathmines Fire Station they restored.
This probably wouldn’t be an issue if a Dublin City Council bureaucrat hadn’t mistakenly given protected status meant for the fire station to the cafe next door.
Now a couple of Green Party Dublin city councillors are trying to put right the mistake by calling on councillors to give the building the protected status it should already have.
But Labour Party councillor Mary Freehill is afraid that could jeopardize a future development.
She thinks the building may, at some point, need to be torn down to make way for a future development of the council’s cleansing depot site, also known as the bring centre, which is behind the fire station. Like, perhaps, some “age-friendly” apartments.
Giving the fire station protected status would mean a new road to the site couldn’t be built.
The suggestion that the building may be torn down to make room for an access road to the council’s cleansing site terrifies the curators at Mart, who went through a lot of trouble to bring the building back from the dead.
“There was a lot of sweat and tears put in there, but we got there in the end,” says Matthew Nevin, curator and artistic director at Mart, of the renovation process.
The fire station was derelict when Mart started leasing it from the council, and it took about a year and a half of work plus a lot of money to bring it up to usable standard.
“We had lots of volunteers – we couldn’t afford contractors – we learned different trades, it was really community, hands-on type of thing,” says Nevin.
The building itself was constructed in the 1830s and extended in the early twentieth century to house a fire truck. With big bright red doors that open into the old garage space, its façade on Lower Rathmines Road is hard to miss.