It was an excited crowd that gathered outside the Iveagh Market building in Dublin after it was announced that the Guinness family had repossessed the building to ensure its survival.

The building had lain derelict for over 20 years since Dublin City Council signed a development agreement with Temple Bar publican Martin Keane.

The Fourth Earl of Iveagh had invoked a clause that he claimed allowed ownership revert to the Guinness family if redevelopment failed to take place.

The crowd of around 50 Liberties residents that night in December 2020 did not need to be told about the loss of culture in the city - subject of much debate in recent years.

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They listed off local amenities that had gone from the area - the latest being the demolition of the Tivoli Theatre nearby on Francis Street.

Now it seemed they were getting back some of what had been lost. Consultant Paul Smithwick who represented the Guinness family was cheered when he arrived. There was a brief speech and the media did interviews. Then the crowd broke into a spontaneous rendition of 'The Rare Ould Times'.

However a year later and progress has stalled.

Read more: Publican may regain possession of Iveagh Market

Martin Keane mounted a legal challenge disputing Lord Iveagh's right to repossess and alleging trespass. Continuing legal action, including appeals, could last over four years and cost €5 million, according to some estimates.

It was feared that the Edwardian market building could deteriorate beyond repair if left much longer. Mediation which could involve allowing Mr Keane to regain control of the market is ongoing.

For those who want to keep some of the capital's character and culture, it always seems to be a hard slog.

Plans to redevelop the Cobblestone Pub in Smithfield provoked almost 700 objections and a protest march to the Civic Offices. Although the city council refused permission for the hotel development, a revised plan has been sent to An Bord Pleanála.

Conservationists feel the appeals board has favoured development over heritage in some recent decisions.

The board granted permission for the demolition of buildings on one side of Merchant Arch's laneway, which looks set to go ahead despite a petition which gathered over 50,000 objections.

The board has also given the go-ahead for high rise and modernist buildings that will encroach on views from Trinity College and Dame Street.

Many people argue in favour of development saying the city needs the housing and the jobs that come with this investment.

However what has concerned many communities in the city is how much of new development is specifically limited to transient populations with the concentration of hotels, student accommodation and build to rent apartments.

Other high profile heritage battles include the Save Moore Street campaign which has also been going on for over 20 years. A decision is due on the latest development plans from the UK company Hammerson for the site, which includes the 1916 monument.

Although a plan has been unveiled to renovate the Magazine Fort in the Phoenix Park, funding has not yet been agreed. Another protected structure in the park is the 18th Century Royal Hibernian Military School which is part of the St Mary's Hospital campus - some of the older unused buildings are now said to be in a dangerous condition.

Plans for the redevelopment of the historic Pigeon House site on the Poolbeg peninsula, including the 18th Century hotel and old power station, were shelved last year because of legal difficulties.

Then there is the Georgian Museum on Fitzwilliam St, which ESB wanted to permanently close to make way for luxury apartments as part of the redevelopment of its headquarters.

This provoked controversy and Dublin City Council refused permission last February. However the contents of the museum had already been removed and the ESB has yet to say what it intends to do about restoring the facility.

The original destruction of 16 Georgian Houses on Fitzwilliam St in 1964 to make way for the Sam Stephenson designed ESB building was one of the most controversial planning decisions in Dublin's history. It broke up the 'Georgian mile' that ran along Fitzwilliam St and Fitzwilliam Square all the way to Leeson St.

When plans were being drawn up for the building’s redevelopment, the late Desmond Guinness - co-founder of the Irish Georgian Society - was among those calling for the original facade design to be reinstated. This was unsuccessful but the final design chosen was the one most sympathetic to its surroundings.

The Guinness family's efforts at philanthropy and conservation remain a strong presence in Dublin. The Iveagh Trust is currently chaired by Rory Guinness, brother of Edward, the fourth Earl. It still provides over 1,500 social housing units in the city and the 195 bed Iveagh homeless hostel.

The Iveagh Buildings on Stephen's Green, the gardens behind them and St Patrick's Park were all donated by the Guinness family to the State. The Iveagh Market was built by the First Earl of Iveagh for local street sellers in 1906.

Meanwhile demolition and redevelopment continues at a relentless pace in the city. The amount of effort being applied to the restoration and conservation of historic buildings seems small by comparison.