WHITAKER SQUARE AND ROPE WALK – THE TROPICAL FRUIT WAREHOUSE AND ASSOCIATED VISUAL LOCAL HISTORY
I suspect that not many people are aware of this courtyard but I visit it a few times year in case there is anything of interest – one never knows. Anyway, today I noticed an interesting visual history of the docklands on the hoarding around the Tropical Fruit Warehouse development.
The space shown in my photographs is behind the Clayton Hotel Cardiff Lane which can be accessed via Rope Walk which connects East Hanover Street to Sir John Rogerson’s Quay [there was until recently a locked gate at the Hanover Street end of the lane]. Rope Walk [not to be confused with Ropewalk Place in Ringsend] runs parallel to Lime Street.
A ropewalk is a long straight narrow lane, or a covered pathway, where long strands of material are laid before being twisted into rope. Due to the length of some ropewalks, workers may use bicycles to get from one end to the other. Many ropewalks were in the open air, while others were covered only by roofs. Ropewalks historically were harsh sweatshops, and frequently caught fire, as hemp dust ignites easily and burns fiercely.
The court yard is named Whitaker Square and it is home to The Economic and Social Research Institute. It is amusing to see that the ESRI has received one Google Review and they received only one star.
The institute was founded in 1960 by a group of senior academics and public servants, led by T. K. Whitaker, Secretary of the Department of Finance. While conducting an economic study of Ireland, Whitaker became aware of the necessity for an independent research organisation to conduct analysis of data using up-to-date quantitative techniques in order to make the data useful for public policy makers. The US-based Ford Foundation provided seed funding to establish the Economic Research Institute in 1960. In 1966 the remit of the institute was expanded to include social research and the name changed to Economic and Social Research Institute. The first Director of the institute was Roy C. Geary, Irish statistician and founder of the Central Statistics Office.
The Tropical Fruit Warehouse development is described as follows: “Designed by Henry J Lyons Architects this cutting-edge scheme will deliver over 80,000 sq. ft. of unique river front offices and will include a new 6 storey office block at the rear overlooking an existing public square. The original warehouse building will be sensitively restored and the design incorporates the addition of two floating, fully glazed office floors which will cantilever over the protected structure providing panoramic views over the River Liffey.”