THE SETTING of one of the most famous short stories ever to come out of Ireland is to be converted into a tourist hostel.
The house where iconic Irish writer James Joyce's grand-aunts lived, and the setting of short story 'The Dead', can be found on Usher's Island on Dublin's quays.
Described in the story as "a dark gaunt house on Usher's Island", the building was also used as the set for the film version, but deterioration of the building means it has been closed to the public for years.
Now Dublin City Council has given the go-ahead to controversial plans which would see the building transformed into a 50-bed hostel, claiming it is "the best way to secure its long-term conservation".
The Irish Times reports that the decision to give the green light to the plans comes after the Department of Heritage lodged an objection to the proposal, stating it would "undermine, diminish, and devalue a site of universal cultural heritage, importance and part of the Unesco City of Literature designation".
The planning report pledges to protect the structure of the building, stating "any harmful extensions or modifications have been removed from the scheme", and the Council said the building's "current condition is of concern".
Writer Colm Tóibín had also lodged an objection to its conversion, as "the atmosphere in the house and the way the rooms are configures are mostly untouched since Joyce's time", and turning it into a hostel "would wreck the uniquely valuable interior which still maintains the character of the house so splendidly described" in Joyce's short story.
While Dublin City Council have given permission for the conversion to take place, the decision may be appealed further to An Bórd Pleanála, The Irish Times reports.
In recent years, there has been huge public backlash to cultural areas being demolished or converted to make rooms for hostels and hotels; last November, a mural depicting Derry Girls' Sister Michael rolling her eyes appeared at the former Bernard Shaw pub which had been closed to make room for a hotel.
And just last month, the Dublin home of one 1916 Easter Rising leader was demolished to make way for luxury flats, despite it being a listed building.