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One of the main problems behind the boom-to-gloom economy is the illusion that buildings create value, or at least some kind of buildings. As I’ve written before, making things is crucial for our survival, but to keep making the wrong things for the wrong reasons is counterproductive, or put it more direct – stupid. Making things is good if these things are needed. If they are not needed, don’t make them. This applies to buildings as well. There’s no point building a garden shed if you don’t need it.
But more seriously, do we need more shopping centres in Limerick? I read in the Limerick Post today that the current Mayor of Limerick, Jim Long, wants more of the UK chains further dilute the viability of the few existing shops in the city.

“…my own preference here is for the Sainsbury, Marks and Spencer and the Asda chain, so successful in the North of Ireland.”

Now, that is the most stupid thing I’ve read, when said by a Limerick politician while the Limerick City Centre is decaying due to that the City and County have built an almost endless number of retail parks (what an oxymoron!) around the city. For each big chain store that opened along Childers Road, Ballysimon Road, etc., the local and often family run shops in town were forced to either close or relocate. You get what you plan for.

Parkway Valley chaos

Looking at the Parkway Valley area, there was a plan approved to build one of the largest shopping malls in Europe, which is totally insane when you consider that the population of the Limerick area is only about 140,000. The originally almost useless land on the east side of the Singland plane was envisaged to be worth multimillions if commercial rents and rates could be extracted for every square meter of soggy old flood plain. With the current state of the site, with massive unfinished concrete structures in place, the land is even worth less, and in my opinion it now has a negative value as the land cannot be used for anything sensible.

With the so called Opera Centre (which is a silly name), we still have time to do something more sensible. I think we should apply the term un-building to the site, which basically means to remove the derelict buildings and restore the land to a state where grass, trees and plants can grow, people can walk, play and breath and perhaps even have a few allotments for growing vegetables. Just imagine how inviting the city may look if the entrance to the city centre was green. By un-building, we open up all kinds of possibilities for the future while being able to enjoy the place now.


  1. The things I sometimes notice sometimes alert me to just how complacent Limerick people actually are. And it surprises me not that we have stupid people in such influential positions. After all, Limerick did set its fate when it chose its first Mayor. With almost a handful of rare exceptions we have marched blindly on ever since.
    Peculiar how we choose to take no notice at all.

  2. Very interesting article, Mikael. If we strip away all the various agendas relating to the site, what we effectively have is a 3.2 acre site with great potential due to it’s location at the very centre of Limerick City. It’s important for us all to realise just how great this potential is. Limerick City could be changed radically, and for the better, if the right decisions are taken with a long term view.

    In Transition Limerick, we’ve identified this issue as being a very significant one for our city. While we all have ideas as to what should become of the site. we believe, first and foremost, there should be a proper forum in which these ideas are thrashed out. The unbuilding suggestion definitely merits discussion, and so do countless others. As indicated at the meeting held in the Raggle Taggle building before Christmas, we will have a website up very shortly which we hope can be a forum for airing and articulating intelligent ideas.

  3. You are so totally correct here. It’s a stupid name and stupid concept. An Unbuilding is what is needed. Ironically, that creates value too, since it cost money and employs people to tear down a decaying site. The proximity to the river and canal creates some nice possibilities.

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