Dublin’s City Hall
In the last of our series of blogs to coincide with Dublin’s St Patrick’s Day Parade we’ll be taking a look at Dublin City Hall. Along with many other beautiful buildings you may see on your way through the parade, you may catch a glimpse of this neo-classical 18th century Hall.
Dublin’s City Hall came about when the Merchants of Dublin created a society, and looking for a base for their meetings set up a competition for someone to come forward with their own designs. Prior to the erection of the City Hall there had once been the Church of Sainte Marie, now a new building was needed. Thomas Cooley was to win the competition as the winning architect and construction began in 1769. It was completed 10 years later in 1779.
This was an adventurously large building the like of which Dublin had not seen before. It was certainly as beautiful inside as it was on the outside. It came with elaborate columns, a large and impressive dome decorated with Mosaics, and at the centre a window that threw light throughout the building. Near the north entrance of the Hall was a brass statue of George III.
Towards the mid-19th century the City Hall would have new occupants who would make further changes. Partitions were added and the construction of a new staircase would lead to upper floors and new windows which gave captivating views of Dublin Castle. A council chamber was added and the first meeting of the new Corporation was held in early autumn of 1852.
Disaster had struck in the early part of the 19th century prior to the Dublin Corporation’s new occupancy, where a balustrade from the front of the building had collapsed on to a number of people causing fatalities. An iron railing would be erected in its place. A stone balustrade would replace the railing in the mid-1800s by a new architect, a Thomas Turner.
Towards the end of the 19th century a mosaic floor was added which featured the City Coat of Arms by another architect, this time a Charles J McCarthy. During the period of the First World War new historical frescoes were added to the dome by James Ward. They were later repainted after the original frescoes faded.
The final changes to the City hall came in the mid-1920’s when the supporting woodwork holding up the dome was replaced with steel. This was designed by another Architect a Mr Conor McGinley.
The Corporate moved to another location in 1995, but members of Dublin’s Council still meet on a monthly basis within the Council Chamber with Dublin’s Lord Mayor in attendance.
Much of the first floor remains as it was, but much has changed below with the lower floor having been restructured completely. The reason for this has been to make way for a new multi-media exhibition which gives a broad history of the city.
Conservation and preservation
Conservation of this magnificent building is high on everyone’s priority and in the late 90’s restoration of the Hall was begun. It continues to be a beacon of pride for Dublin residents as an outstanding example of architectural splendour. Clearly everyone here in Dublin see the value of preserving this building for future generations, as it is such a fine example of 18th architecture and has a fine history. Make sure that when you pass through Dublin you keep an eye out for it.
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