A few years ago, The Wife and I went on an extra long-weekend trip to Dublin. As U2 fans, we wanted to see some of the relevant sites, so one of the first stops we made was at a tourist information centre at the foot of Grafton Street. The conversation with the guy behind the counter went something like this:
Me: I’d like some information on any U2 tours.
Tourist Guy: Some wot?
Me: U2 stuff. You know, guides, walking tours, maps with points of interest.
Tourist guy: [Genuinely puzzled] Why would you want to do that for?
We ended up using my iPhone to find our way around. That included a tiny room in a Dublin city museum that had around the same amount of U2 memorabilia one might find at a mall record store. Given the number of U2 fans that descend on Dublin every year–and we met quite a few of them–this lack of resources seemed kinda shortsighted.
U2 is well aware of this, which is why they’re working on a “world class U2 visitor centre and exhibition space” in Dublin’s docklands area, right in the same spot as Hanover Quay, the site of a former U2 rehearsal space and recording studio. The planning documents describe it thusly: “a destination experience for the millions of U2 fans around the world” that will attract around 400,000 people a year.
The project has been in the works for at least four years, but nothing has happened. This explains why the company formed by U2 recently bought out its partner and is going to forge ahead on its own. U2 has until March 24, 2024, to get their act together before planning commission permits expire.
Can they do it? U2 tried once before to build a grand real estate project but failed. Maybe this time.