25/25 – View of Dublin from the Magazine, Phoenix Park

If you wander through the Phoneix park today you may arrive at a small roundabout, located in the center of the park, containing a tall Corinthian column with a proud golden phoenix bird atop. You might idle why one of the largest city parks in Europe, many miles from Greece, should be dedicated to a mythology bird. The question then might rapidly disappear as you try to cross the busy road but I suspect you would be surprised that the reason has to do with water, specifically a clear spring pool that used to exist in the area. If you’ve read the first article in this series, which mentions how Dublin got it’s name, then you may guess where this is going. In the local Gaelic tongue “clear water” would be “fionn uisce” which, anglicized, became “Phoenix”. The old name however can still be found in the official Gaelic name; Páirc an Fhionnuisce

The park, as currently constituted, is a subset of the lands which Strongbow, the Earl of Pembroke, 21 View of Dublin from the Magazine, Phoenix Park. July 1796 granted the Knights Templar in 1174. Kilmainham, south of the river, would also have been included – indeed the Knights Templar built their abbey on what is today the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham – the building right of center in Maltons print. The Office of Public Works however claims 1662 as the Parks birth year when the Duke of Ormond created the Phoenix deer park. We will leave the OPW to their foibles.

In 1611 the land was granted to Sir Edward Fisher who had constructed Phoenix House just north of the river. Fisher sold the land and house back to the crown in 1618 and the building would be used by the viceroys until 1665. In 1735 the building was removed and replaced by The Magazine Fort; the major distribution point for arms and munitions to other barracks in the Dublin area. After independence the fort would carry on in it’s designated role for the newly formed Irish Army but would be suffer a major indignity in December 1939 when the fort was raided by the IRA who stole 1,084,000 rounds of ammunition. Today the fort is closed and abandoned.

21 View of Dublin from the Magazine, Phoenix Park
magnify-clipView of Dublin from the Magazine, Phoenix Park. August, 2013


24/25 – Barracks

Standing in his Revolutionary French Military uniform he must have seemed like an esoteric bird to the members of the Barracks courtroom.  A very dangerous esoteric bird.  10 Barracks. July 1793
Malton’s “Barracks. July 1793”
Although Irish, a month before he had been captured attempting to land with a French force of 15,000 troops in Bantry – not to conquer Ireland to but to unite with a projected Irish Rebellion to expel British troops. He was very aware what his love of country would cost. “For it I became an exile; I submitted to poverty; I left the bosom of my family, my wife, my children, and all that rendered life desirable. After an honorable combat, in which I strove to emulate the bravery of my gallant comrades, I was forced to submit”. Found guilty of treason he was sentenced to be hanged. Instead he attempted a botched suicide and Theobald Wolfe Tone died eight days later in Barracks Provost’s Prison.

The Barracks, located on the west side of Dublin on the banks of the Liffey, was to be Thomas de Burghs first recorded building. Erected in 1701 it is one of Dublin’s earliest public buildings and one of the largest of it’s type in Europe. It was the main British garrison for Dublin with up to 1,500 troops being stationed there. In December 1922, it was handed over to the Irish free state and was renamed Collins Barracks in honor of the Commander-in-Chief of the Irish army Michael Collins who had been killed four months earlier.

In 1988 it was decided to close Collins Barracks and when, in 1997, the 5th Infantry Battalion marched out it brought to a close 290 years of continuous service – the longest serving army barracks as noted by the Guinness book of records.

Collins Barracks was soon to re-open as part of the National Museum of Ireland with an emphases on the Decorative Arts & History of Ireland and, appropriately, Ireland’s military history from 1550.

Barracks, Sept. 2013
magnify-clipNational Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks, September 2013

Photographic note: Malton would have positioned himself a good distance south of the Liffey in an area today heavily built up including not least the Guinness factory. I choose to take the photograph on the north side of the Liffey from The Croppies Acre

23/25 – St Stephens Green

Walk through St Stephens Green at lunchtime on any hot sunny day and you will be greeted by what feels like the population of the entire city trying to enjoy the sun’s rays. Happy people trying to find a free blade of grass to sit and have their lunch. Maybe some music will waft over from the bandstand while a Shakespeare play might be performed over in the Yeats memorial garden. Definitely you will find children at the water feeding the birds. Such an outburst of life and fun is at odds with the dark and divisive history of the park.

The leper hospital, founded in the late 12th century, was dedicated to the first martyr of Christianity; St. Stephen. The hospital is long gone but the name stuck to the 60 acres or so of marshy grazing land south of the river Liffey. In the 17th century Dublin Corporation decided to divide the area up into plots in an ambitious plan to develop the area. Building would center around a large walled private park. It foreshadowed the movement of the Ascendancy to the unfashionable south side that the Earl of Kildare James FitzGerald would begin in the middle of the 18th century. Indeed FitzGerald’s move would result in these 17th buildings being replaced with newer Georgian era dwellings.

In 1758 the park got it’s first statue – King George II. Created by John Van Nost the Younger it was situated at the center of the park. The King, seated on a horse, stood raised upon a large pedestal.

20 St Stephen's Green. June 1796
St Stephens Green. June, 1796

It was good that James Malton took his print from this period in the parks history because the statue immediately became the target for anti-British sentiment with many attempts to amputate body parts. It was blown up by nationalists on 13th May, 1937 to ‘celebrate’ the coronation the day before of the statues namesake King George VI.

The 19th century saw changes to the parks layout by Arthur Neville, George Hemans, and William Sheppard. However the biggest change was that the park was made public in the later part of the century. Up to then it had been a private park only accessible by the residents in the locale. One of the structural changes, suggested by Herman, was the construction of four entrances at each corner of the park. Two of the most notable entrances show the extremes of Irish political history. At the Grafton Street entrance stands a Roman arch called Fusiliers’ Arch and insultingly called Traitors Gate by nationalists. It honors the men of the Royal Dublin Fusiliers who were killed in the Second Boer War. Representing the other extreme of Irish politics and history, at the northeastern corner of the park, is a statue of Wolf Tone, Irish revolutionary leader, and a memorial of the Great Famine where a million died and another million were forced to leave the country.

The park history saw it view one of the early skirmishes of the Easter 1916 rebellion where troops of the Irish Citizen Army, led by Commandant Michael Mallin and Constance Markievicz, took control of the park. They were quickly routed however by British troops and retreated to the Royal College of Surgeons building on the park’s east side.

20 St Stephens Green. June 1
magnify-clipSt Stephens Green. June 1, 2013

Photographic note: From photographic evidence of the location of the King George II statue I think Malton would have been somewhere around the Fusiliers’ Arch. However scale suggests he was halfway down Grafton Street too. Location above would be closer and to the left of Maltons. The statue itself, I think, would have been middle, left of center, through the trees.

Name note: Lot of debate over Saint v St v St. and Stephens v Stephen’s. Rules of grammer can run aground against entity names and I’ve chosen to use the name as used by the Office of Public Works; “St Stephens Green”. Being almost dyslexic and grammatically challenged who am I to argue.

22/25 – View from Capel Street

Dubliners, like citizens of other countries, have a habit of simply ignoring the official names of structures and coming up with a more practical and apt name; if their humor doesn’t get in the way that is. The newest bridge in Dublin was recently christened “The Rosie Hackett Bridge” after the trade union leader and independence fighter. However it’s more likely the bridge will be called by the locals after it’s function – “The Luas Bridge”.

The bridge over the Liffey joining Capel Street to Parliament Street causes even more grief as regards names. It has had two over it’s history – Essex Bridge and Grattan Bridge – and of course is known to the locals by neither. Instead it’s Capel Street Bridge.

The first Essex Bridge was built in 1676 by Sir Humphrey Jervis and named after Arthur Capel, the 1st Earl of Essex. It joined the street named after the Earl to where, as Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl worked in Dublin Castle.

22 View from Capel Street, looking over Essex Bridge. February 1797
James Malton’s “View from Capel Street,
looking over Essex Bridge. February 1797”
By the middle of the 18th century the bridge was in poor shape and a new bridge, designed by George Semple and funded by a one guinea lottery was opened in 1753. Although this is the bridge capture by Malton it is not the bridge that exists today. Today’s bridge, like O’Connoll Street Bridge, was widened as well as flattened in 1872. It also gained some beautiful cast iron ornate lamps and a new name; Grattan Bridge – named after the Irish MP Henry Grattan.

An attempt in 2004 by Dublin Corporation to turn it into a bridge contain booking selling kiosks failed but the new granite paving and odd wooden benches with glass backs remain.

22 View from Capel Street
magnify-clipView from Capel Street. August, 2013


21/25 – Powerscourt House

16 Powerscourt House. July 1795
James Malton’s “Powerscourt House. July 1795”

In Christine Casey’s book “The Buildings of Ireland” she describes the townhouse of Lord Powerscourt as “a lumbering granite-fronted essay in last-gasp Palladianism”. That shot across the bow of the building however is balanced with her reference to the “marvelous transitional interior”. Indeed the Robert Mack designed building is an odd building. Hemmed in by the narrow streets it’s hard to get a feeling for the building itself. Malton mentions that “the house is unhappy in point of situation”. It’s not helped that many people would fail to see the front as they would enter it via Clarandon street; the rear of the building. You really do need to step back to appreciate it and realize that it’s a little gem in the city center.

Designed by Robert Mack for the 3rd Viscount of Powerscourt, Richard Wingfield, it was built between 1771 and 1774 from granite mined from the Powerscourt estate in Co. Wicklow. This is one of the few works of Mack who wasn’t the most successful of the era. Thomas Eyre, with an axe to grind, described Mack as “an obscure journeyman stonecutter”. Nevertheless Malton ranked the building as the third best example of town house in Dublin, presumably after Leinster and Charlemont House. The interior that Casey was so impressed by was created by Michael Stapleton and the staircase by James McCullagh.

Only 33 years later the building was sold in 1807 to the government for £15,000. A bargain taking into account it had cost £80,000 to build. It was the home to the Dublin Stamp Office and the Commissioners of Stamp Duties until 1833 when it was sold to a textile firm. Today it’s a rather grand, if cramped, shopping centre.

16 Powerscourt House
magnify-clipPowerscourt House, 2013

20/25 – Charlemont House

Sir William Chambers style has been described as eclectic, which is probably apt for a man born in Sweden to Scottish parents, well traveled in India and China, who studied in Paris and Italy – where he met Lord Charlemont – and then became architect to the Prince of Wales and on his coronation to King George II.

Lord Charlemont, remembering his friend that he met on his grand tour, and needing an architect to remodel his estate, employed Chambers to re-design Marino House and, as was the style then, to design a casino (from the italian ‘Casa’ meaning little house) on the grounds. 08 Charlemont House. June 1793
Maltons “Charlemont House. June 1793”
Pleased with this Chambers was requested to design Lord Charlemont’s town house. Finished in 1763 on the north side of Rutland Square it differed significantly from the buildings around it. Recessed in from the street with sides curving out in a welcoming embrace it lived up to Chambers eclectic reputation. Equally eclectic Chambers would never see this or any other Irish buildings he designed; his travels would never include a visit to Ireland.

When the Earl of Charlemont died in 1799 he left an estate in serious financial condition that required the 2nd and 3rd Earls to sell off much of it – including reportedly one of the finest private libraries in Europe. Charlemont house itself was sold to the government in 1870 to become the General Register and Census Offices for Ireland. However with independence the building was to take on a new brief. Beginning with rebuilding in 1929 Charlemont House opened in 1933 as the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art and later as the Hugh Lane Gallery with works by Manet, Monet, Renoir and Degas to name a few.

Charlemont House

magnify-clipHugh Lane Gallery, 2013

19/25 – Leinster House



Leinster house had seen plenty of Fitzgeralds having been their family home for three generations. As the Oireachtas – the Irish Parliament – since 1922, it had also seen plenty of politicians.  But the politician that stood to give his only speech in the Dail Chambers was causing a stir in the Ireland of 1963.  He put at ease the members of the house by pointing out that although his name was Fitzgerald he had not come to claim back his home;  President John Fitzgerald Kennedy was just visiting.

04 Leinster House. July 1792
James Maltons “Leinster House. July 1792”
In 1745 the then Earl of Kildare James FitzGerald commissioned the German architect Richard Cassels to build him a mansion in the unfashionable south side of Dublin city prophetically commenting “Wherever I go, fashion will follow me.”.  By the time that King George III made FitzGerald the Duke of Leinster the then Kildare House, now renamed Leinster House, was the epicenter of a rapidly developing part of Dublin with Merrion Square and Fitzwilliam Square becoming home to the Irish aristocracy

The Royal Dublin Society (RDS) purchased the building off the third Duke and used it “to promote and develop agriculture, arts, industry, and science in Ireland”.  Their tenure saw Leinster Lawns being used by Richard Crosbie for the first ballon flight in Ireland and for the Great Industrial Exhibition of 1853.  Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were amongst the visitors.  Included in the changes to the building by the RDS was a lecture theatre. This addition would prove of enormous interest to the next tenets.

“Leinster House does not inspire the brightest ideas”
– Lord Edward Fitzgerald

In 1921 the Provisional Government were planning on using the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham as their new Parliament House.  However, due to the fact that it was still occupied by British troops, and would be when independence came into being in December of that year, a temporary alternative was required.  The RDS lecture theatre was deemed suitable and an agreement was reached with the RDS.  The precarious financial conditions of the new state saw the idea of Kilmainham being dropped as a venue for an Irish Parliament and instead Leinster House was bought outright from the RDS in 1924 and continues to this day as home to the Oireachtas.

Leinster House. Sept, 2013
magnify-clipLeinster House, August 2013

18/25 – Marine School


Somehow you want me to link Thomas Cooley, 18th century architect of the Royal Exchange and Blue Coat School to 20th century muscian Paul Hewson aka ‘Bono’? Difficult … it’ll be tenuous you know … really really tenuous but … but yes, I think it’s possible.

It was announced in the Freeman’s Journal on the 28th June 1766 that “the Governors of the new charitable institution of an Hibernian Nursery for the Marine have taken a house at Ringsend”. 19 Marine School, Dublin. Looking up the Liffey. June 1796
James Malton’s “Marine School, Dublin. Looking up
the Liffey. June 1796”
The school, echoing a similar one in London, was intended to school and house orphans and children of mariners. The school, initially funded by Dublin merchants, ship owners and a 3p tax on the monthly wages of Dublin sailors, was later by Parliamentary funds.  It soon found itself outgrowing it’s building in Ringsend and land was leased at John Rogerson’s Quay for a new, purpose built, building. Designed by Thomas Cooley it was completed in 1773. James Malton incorrectly attributed the buildings design to Thomas Ivory.

The school appears to have been poorly and inefficiently run coming in for harse criticisms for the quality of it’s education of the children and an increasing number of students running away. In 1872 a fire gutted the building and the school moved to Upper Merrion Street. The building itself became offices for the British and Irish Steam Packet Company before being abandoned. The remains of the building were destroyed in 1979 – one of the two buildings in James Maltons book to no longer exist. Probably the closest major feature today to where the the school was located is the Samuel Beckett Bridge.

Pardon? The link between Cooley and Bono? Oh, it’s really not worth it but if you must have it. In 1968 the Marine and Mountjoy Schools merged to form the creatively named Mountjoy & Marine School. Four years later this school merged with the Bertrand & Rutland School to form the Mount Temple Comprehensive School in Clontarf where, in 1976, a 14 year old student called Larry Mullen posted a notice looking for fellow musicians to form a new band he was setting up.  I did mention this was going to be tenuous right?

19 Marine School
magnify-clipSamuel Beckett Bridge, Dublin, August 2013

17/25 St. Catherine’s Church, Thomas Street

“Let no man write my epitaph … when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written”
~ Robert Emmet’s speech on the eve of his execution, 1803

As the historian and television presenter Robert Kee pointed out the rebellion of 1803 was a “street riot rather than a rebellion” but nevertheless it did cause Robert Emmet, on the 20th September 1803, to keep an appointment outside St. Catherines. Sadly for him the appointment was with the hangman’s noose.

A church had occupied the site since 1105 but the present church dates from 1769. It was designed by John Smyth who also worked on two other churches of the period; St Thomas’s and St Werburgh’s. 23 St. Catherine's Church, Thomas Street. November 1797
James Malton’s “St. Catherine’s Church, Thomas Street. November 1797”
The architectural historian Maurice Craig, author of “Dublin 1660-1860: The Shaping of a City” noted that St. Catherine’s has “the finest façade of any church in Dublin”. As was common in the time the church is a galleried church. It was also supposed to be topped with a spire but this was not constructed due to lack of funds. In 1825, G.N. Wright noted in his book “An Historical Guide to the city of Dublin”, that the parish was estimated to contain 21,264 people in 1,638 homes. As the population was mostly Roman Catholic, the Church of Ireland church however was barely viable. In 1966, with declining attendance, the church closed and was deconsecrated in 1967.

The Church of Ireland transferred ownership of the building to Dublin Corporation on condition that it be used for cultural and community activities. This saw the church host exhibitions and stage concerts with well known acts such as Christy Moore and the Chieftains. However by 1990s the church had largely been abandon and vandalized. In 1993 Dublin Corporation sold the church to an Anglican church – The City Outreach for Renewal and Evangelism (CORE). After a £1.75 million restoration the church was re-consecrated in 1998.

23 St. Catherine's Church, Thomas Streetmagnify-clipSt. Catherine’s Church, Thomas Street, 2013

16/25 – Rotunda and New Rooms

In 1742 Dr. Bartholomew Mosse must already have been thinking about how to get the finances together to open the first maternity hospital in the British Isles. I wonder did his mentor, Dr. John Stone, invite Mosse out to the Neale’s Musick Hall on Fishamble Street in Dublin so that Mosse would get a break. If so then Mosse not only would get a idea of how to finance the hospital – staging of concerts – but would also be one of few to attend the premiere of Handel’s Messiah.

When the New Lying-In Hospital opened in 1757 Mosse had also considered the long term future of how the hospital would support itself. To that end the plans for the hospital include a Rotunda and new rooms for public entertainment as well as a pleasure garden. From admission fees and events staged here Mosse was hoping to help finance the hospital. Sadly Mosse wouldn’t live long enough to see this part of his plan implemented.

18 Rotunda and New Rooms. December 1795.
James Maltons “Rotunda and New Rooms. December 1795”.

Construction of rotunda assembly rooms were supervised by architect Richard Johnston, who designed the under appreciated Aldborough House on Portland Row, and followed plans designed by Frederick Trench and the hero of Georgian architecture in Dublin, James Gandon. The foundation stone was laid by Duke of Rutland on the 17th July 1785. Today the Rotunda Assembly Hall hosts the Ambassador Theatre while the Supper Rooms is home to the Gate Theatre

18 Rotunda and New Roomsmagnify-clipRotunda and New Rooms. August, 2013