I came across a petition recently calling for the creation of a traditional Chinese style gate on Parnell Street to help create our very own Chinatown in Dublin.
In reality Chinatown already exists around the northern end of O’Connell Street, Parnell Street, Moore Street and surrounding areas.
With the arrival of huge numbers of Chinese students, entrepreneurs and immigrants in the last decade, they have formed a community in this part of the city.
Shops, restaurants, supermarkets and an underlying sense of community have been built within this area – all it lacks is an official name and the customary gate you see in other international capital.
The further north you head on O’Connell Street the dowdier it becomes. This isn’t an area of town people head to for a wander, to soak up the atmosphere or enjoy coffee, drinks, food or pints.
Unfortunately all the tourists and most of the money is spent in Temple Bar and in restaurants south of the river.
Thats not me being elitist. It’s a simple fact.
And it is one that northside businesses and the groups that represent them have been looking to address in recent times.
Put simply, how do we get people spending time and money in the evenings on the north side of the river?
Erecting a gate and officially naming the area Chinatown would be a great start.
This isn’t some sort of divine inspiration either. The very best cities in the world have already done this… London, New York, San Francisco and Sydney are just a small example of cities with an official Chinatown marked with a gate.
By creating our own and including it on maps, marketing materials and simply naming it, you’d see tourists flocking to the area and not just traipsing up and down the south side of the river from the Guinness Storehouse to Temple Bar and around the Grafton Street area.
Even more importantly you’d get Dubliners thinking of Parnell Street as a destination for an evening out.
With more footfall would come entrepreneurs opening more restaurants, bars, clubs and venues to entertain folk and a general rising of all boats with the tide in terms of an economic improvement of the area.
There might be some opposition to the idea given the importance of the area from an Irish history perspective, but this is about looking forwards and not backwards. This would be a compliment to existing history.
But how will it happen…
The leg work has already been done by the community in that area. All it needs is for the relevant officials and people with power to rubber stamp it and take the credit.
And of course for you to sign the petition.
Main image: DavidGraham86/Shutterstock.com