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Temple Bar plan is hit by history find

TEMPLE Bar's giant umbrella plans at Meeting House Square have been delayed after an unexpected archaeological discovery.

Preliminary excavation work on the square began in January, in preparation for the construction of a large retractable canopy.

The Temple Bar Cultural Trust (TBCT) hoped that the facility would expand the use of the square for events during unsettled weather.

Dublin City Council gave the green light to the TBCT to install the 21-metre tall structures.

But now the reopening of the centre will be delayed after city archaeologists uncovered a 13th Century structure.

"The finds were made on Wednesday afternoon, so at this stage it's very early," a spokeswoman for TBCT told the Herald. "We believe that it is a 13th Century structure. It will add time with our plans, but we have every confidence that we will be able to go ahead with our project."

Because Dublin is an ancient city, experts must first comb the area to find out if there are sites of historical importance before any construction work is carried out.

The TBCT has met with the Dublin City Archaeologist in order to discuss the find and decide the next course of action.

A number of the shops and residents in the surrounding areas have now been informed.

Most of central Dublin within the canals is a Recorded Monument and when a site has archaeological potential, the Dublin City Archaeologist makes a written submission to the Planning Department, who may attach an archaeological condition.

The €2m structure would allow events to take place in the area year-round.

The Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport, through Failte Ireland, is providing €1.3m for the project, while the TBCT is putting forward the rest of the cash.

Failte Ireland and the National Development Plan are also behind the construction of the large canopy.

Dermot McLaughlin chief executive of the TBCT, said that the trust was working with MDT-Tex to construct the scheme. The company specialises in outdoor umbrellas and coverings.

The Temple Bar Food Market and a number of other events staged there have been relocated due to the renovations.

The idea has been in development since 2004 and it was hoped that it would be revealed in June this year, in time for the outdoor cinema screenings.

clairemurphy@herald.ie