In 2014 Dublin City Council announced it had been gifted possession of a Georgian town house on Bachelors walk, adjacent to the O'Connell street Bridge, which they had opened for tender for development as a cultural or creative space. By that time I had been running my DIY/creative technologies business Maker Electronics Ireland for about 3 years and was acutely aware of the rise (and potential social benefits) of the global maker movement. Through my exposure to the movement, I had become convinced of the efficacy of public makerspaces for community and business development . Although there were some private maker clubs existing in Dublin, by 2014 there was no open-access public makerspace in the city. If Dublin was to call itself a global player in tech and innovation, it was lacking one ingredient to be found in all the other major cities who are.
To prepare the proposal for Dublin's first community makerspace I drafted a document on the rise of the global maker-movement, what sparked its evolution, its shared motivations, and the potential of the development of makerspaces to enable creative, business and community development, and connect it to a wider global network of innovation.
If you would like to read the original proposal it can be downloaded below.
The proposal, along with a questionnaire was sent out to about 100 of my contacts in the arts, design, business, community development and education sectors. The questionnaire asked a couple of simple questions including would they find what I proposed useful to them, and what resources would they like to see in a community makerspace. Amazingly the questionnaire got over 200 responses.
Unfortunately the proposal was rejected by Dublin City Council but was picked up by Dublin City University who offered a derelict 20,000sqft space in their innovation campus for use for the development of Dublin's First Community Makerspace, free of charge for 2 years if the funding was acquired to develop it
To facilitate that process a not-for-profit company was formed (The Irish Maker Hub GLC) with two other team members (Ronan Dunne an expert technician, artist and material specialist, and Thoran Sorrell a product designer with experience in communications) and a board of governors as representatives from the arts, business and education sector. We were also generously supported by Penelope Kenny of Emergent Management Consulting for accountancy, incorporation and business planning. The project was also supported by a group of over 50 individual stakeholders who informed and supported us as we spent 12 months putting together planning documents, funding proposals and gathering data.
Sadly, despite a huge amount of local and national support for the project we failed to secure the required funding from Enterprise Ireland. In 2016 DCU announced they would be partnering with a private company called Tech Shop (a maker-gym type space with a high-fee membership model) to take over the space. At this time I moved to Barcelona to work on a school makerspace development project. Tech Shop went bankrupt in 2017 and the space remained empty and undeveloped. Dublin city centre still has no community makerspace as of 2021 as far as I'm aware.