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  • Northside West

Artists team up for museum project

Wednesday, 7th August, 2019 1:00pm
Artists team up for museum project

Poet Paula Meehan and photographer Dragana Jurišić pictured in 14 Henrietta Street. Photo: Marc O’Sullivan

Artists team up for museum project

Poet Paula Meehan and photographer Dragana Jurišić pictured in 14 Henrietta Street. Photo: Marc O’Sullivan

NORTHSIDE poet Paula Meehan who was recently awarded an honorary doctorate from DCU has joined forces with award-winning photographer, Dragana Jurišic, for a book project that tells the story of a very special Georgian townhouse in the north inner city.

Museum was launched recently by author Roddy Doyle and it celebrates the varied history of 14 Henrietta Street, Dublin’s museum of social history.

Officially opened in September 2018, 14 Henrietta Street tells the story of the building’s shifting fortunes through 300 years of city life - a journey from its grand Georgian beginnings to the tenement dwellings of its later years.

Through people and memory, it aims to deepen the understanding of the history of urban life and housing in Ireland.

Reflecting on the house and its history, both Meehan and Jurišic created new work for the project. Meehan’s poetry sequence was commissioned by Dublin City Council as part of a creative development project while Jurišic was invited to collaborate and respond to the poetry and the house. 

Museum is the end result and it’s a beautiful 68-page book, featuring 11 sonnets inspired by the house, with accompanying photography taken in and from the house.

Meehan, who grew up in tenement housing around Sean McDermott Street and Gardiner Street, spoke about her involvement in the project.

“I feel privileged for a myriad of reasons to have been invited to respond to the house and to make this poetry sequence,” she said.

“14 Henrietta Street and its hauntings gripped my imagination from the moment I first crossed the threshold.

“The house inspired me to create this sequence in recognition of the people I grew up amongst, who formed my moral and social compass; of the original architects, builders and craftspeople, who created such an elegant and enduring building; of the people who made their homes there over the years, who leave behind stories of survival and courage, and of the committed people who worked incredibly hard to realise this project.”

Jurišic described Meehan as “a magician of words” and said working with her on the book and with the people who brought 14 Henrietta Street back to life was an experience she would cherish forever.

“It was the walls of the house that fascinated me the most; with layer upon layer of old wallpaper or paint, pictures, graffiti, they were like secret maps inviting you to imagine the hundreds of destinies 14 Henrietta Street witnessed,” she added.

Dublin City Council Heritage Officer, Charles Duggan, also spoke at the launch of Museum.

“When Dublin City Council undertook to save and renovate 14 Henrietta Street, it was in a derelict state,” he said.

“Work was carried out over a 10-year period to stabilise, preserve and restore the building. The collaboration with Paula Meehan came about after she gave an early reading there, when we were just setting about recovering the stories and histories of the house. Her words really resonated with what we were trying to achieve.”

14 Henrietta Street is owned and conserved by Dublin City Council and operated by Dublin City Council Culture Company. Chief executive of Dublin City Council Culture Company, Iseult Byrne, said the building museum traces its story from a Georgian townhouse to tenement dwellings

“It aims to give a very real insight into the history of urban life and how people lived in Dublin, from the 1700s right up to the 1970s,” she said.

“Both Paula’s words and Dragana’s photography beautifully capture the story of the building and the lives lived in it. Museum is unique to 14 Henrietta Street and it will allow people to take home a piece of this fascinating museum and to reflect on and to share its story.”

Museum is the first in a series of publications planned in response to the museum. It costs €18 and is available to purchase from 14 Henrietta Street.

The house is only accessible by guided tours, which take place on the hour, five days a week, from 10am to 4pm Wednesday to Saturday and from noon to 4pm on Sundays. Tickets cost €9 and are available from www.14henriettastreet.ie.

Read the digital editions of the Dublin People Northside East, Northside West & Southside here