A Surfeit of Quarters

Recently in Limerick I came across this:



Earlier that day I had been in Limerick’s Fashion Quarter:

limerickfashionquarter 810 x 456_0

I must admit on the Saturday afternoon before Christmas there wasn’t much evidence of living culture in St John’s Square. I have come across the Titanic Quarter in Belfast and have heard a Quaker Quarter being spoke of in Clonmel. Presumably all these are inspired at least in part by the “cultural quarter” that is Temple Bar.

I fully understood local business and cultural organisations trying to raise a buzz about somewhere being a “quarter”, but it does seem more than a little forced. Surely a meaningful “quarter” developed organically, with particular business or groups or what have you gathering in an area for some reason separate from the slightly desperate planning of a committee somewhere? (in fairness, the businesses occupying the Fashion Quarter do seem to have developed there naturally enough)

The Titanic Quarter is obviously part of a laudable effort to rebrand Belfast and shift the associations in the international mind (from terrorism and conflict to, um, the most famous shipping disaster ever) although I do find it a little redolent of the somewhat samey “regeneration” of many areas in post-industrial cities.

Just like the words iconic and genius have lost much meaning and impact through overuse, there is a strong possibility Peak Quarter has already been reached.

Perhaps Waterford has the right shape in mind with a Viking triangle.

ps The Titanic Experience in Belfast is very much worth a visit.

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