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31st Oct 2021

Paschal Donohoe says “we all have to play our role” to keep Irish culture alive

Dave Hanratty

Paschal Donohoe cultural spaces Ireland Chapters

The Minister for Finance has spoken about the erasure of public and cultural spaces, following the announcement that Chapters Bookstore is set to close after 40 years.

Minister for Finance Paschal Donohoe has argued that everyone in Ireland needs to play their part in order to keep cultural landmarks alive.

On Friday, Chapters Bookstore in Dublin announced plans for closure in 2022 following 40 years of trading.

One day prior, Trinity College confirmed that it will shutter the Science Gallery on Pearse Street, with the space expected to close permanently at the end of February.

Earlier in October, protests took place in opposition to proposed developments affecting the Cobblestone pub and Merchant’s Arch in Temple Bar.

Though the capital was named as one of the top 10 cities to visit in the world just this week by Lonely Planet, the phrase ‘Dublin is dying’ has become a depressingly common refrain on social media and beyond.

The juxtaposition is unavoidably stark as people rightfully ask what, if anything, the Irish government will do to protect unique cultural amenities going forward.

In a piece written for The Currency, the Finance Minister took the time to pay loving tribute to Chapters, noting that he had made several great literary discoveries in the Parnell Street shop over the years.

“Like all great bookshops, Chapters was imbued with a sense of creativity in the broadest sense, an openness to new ideas, new literature and new forms of literature,” said Donohoe.

“If we do really value books – and I am sure we do as a country  – then we do have to buy books in bookshops,” he later added.

Donohoe then turned his attention to the obvious problem at hand.

“I know there are those who are concerned that the closure is another sign of cultural erosion in Dublin,” he wrote.

“There is no doubt that we have a real challenge in our city centres at the moment as we emerge from the pandemic into a world where people’s behaviours have changed.

“I am optimistic about the cultural life of this city but there must never be complacency.”

Highlighting the work that Dublin City Council is currently doing in order to prepare for the future, Donohoe surmised that culture and Dublin need to work “hand in hand” to imagine that future.

“The responsibility goes beyond our city planners. It goes beyond those who set up and run bookshops. It goes beyond those who want to run theatres,” he said.

“We all have to play our role. If you value bookshops, if you value cultural landmarks then the best way of ensuring their existence is to support them and use them.

“But that may not be enough on its own. As we make further progress in emerging from the pandemic, city planners and the government are going to have engage in what is the future for our city centres.”

You can read the full piece here.

Featured Images via Julien Behal and Sam Boal / RollingNews.ie