15/25 – Lying-in Hospital

In Ireland building developers and suspected corruption go hand in hand back through history. However if every developer left the legacy that Dr. Bartholomew Mosse did then the country would be far better for it.

Mosse was born in Annefield House, Portlaoise in 1712. The fifth of seven children he decided to become a surgeon and, at the age of 17, became an apprentice to Dr. John Stone. In 1734 he married Mary Mallory but she died three years later giving birth to a baby boy. Shortly afterwards Mosse left Dublin for Minorca as a surgeon assigned to the troops station there. After leaving his commission he traveled Europe visiting hospitals. One of the hospitals probably visited was the Hôtel-Dieu de Paris. This hospital, the oldest in Paris, included a revolutionary maternity ward called “La Charite”.

Returning to Dublin Mosse set about raising the money to build the first maternity hospital in the British Isles. His fundraising allowed him in 1744 to purchase “The New Booth” theatre in Georges Lane. This was converted to the Dublin Lying-In Hospital and it delivered it’s first baby, a boy, to Judith Rochford on the 20th March 1745. Being a good Catholic country the demand for the hospital soon outstripped it’s capacity and Mosse set about raising funds to build the first purpose built maternity hospital. To get the funding Mosse organized plays, oratorios by Handle, concerts and lotteries. It was the lotteries however that got Mosse into trouble and he was arrested in Wales on charges of fraud. Luckily for everybody he escaped and, now back in Dublin, was able to exonerate himself.

17 Lying-in Hospital. December 1795
James Maltons “Lying-in Hospital. December 1795”

Richard Cassell, architect of Leinster House, was commissioned to design the new hospital. Cassell and Mosse became good friends and, as noted by J.T. Gilbert, Cassel ‘when in Dublin, passed his evenings with Dr. Mosse of the Hospital, and a few more, at a tavern, which they seldom left before three or four in the morning’. Cassel died in 1751, not helped by these late nights I’m sure, and the work on the hospital was completed by Cassel’s assistant John Esnor. With both the funds raised and his own money as well as loans Mosse leased four acres of land which was laid out as a pleasure garden with an area in the south end for the new hospital. Construction began in 1751 and the hospital, now called the New Lying-in Hospital, opened in 1757. Exhausted from the work Mosse died penniless two years later.

In 1995 the Rotunda Hospital celebrated it’s 250th anniversary, dating itself from the Georges Lane era, and it remains one of the leading maternity hospitals in the world. A testament to Dr. Bartholomew Mosse’s work, and the work of the Doctors and nurses in the Rotunda and similar hospitals in Ireland, is that Ireland is ranked sixth safest place to give birth in the world by a 2009 UNICEF study. To put that in context, Germany was 13th, the United Kingdom was 23rd, France 31st and the United States 39th.

17 Lying-in Hospital
magnify-clipThe Rotunda Hospital Dublin, 2013


14/25 – Blue-coat Hospital


, ,

A school magazine is usually only of interest to teachers, students and their parents but in 2012 Dave Clarke, former teacher in the Blue Coat school, handed a manuscript over to Professor Jonathan Coleman of TCD called “Fragment From An Unpublished Dialogue Of Galileo”. In 1955, when a friend of Ronnie Anderson, English teacher and Editor of the Blue Coat magazine, accepted a new job in Vienna he decided to leave Anderson a parting present by writing an article for the magazine. It’s not many school magazines that have articles written for it by one of the international standing of Erwin Schrödinger, 1933 Nobel Physics laureate, and something that the school, at the time situated in the 18th century Blackhall Place building, is rightly proud of.

The school itself dates back to 1669 when it opened on Queen Street. 24 Blue-coat Hospital. March 1798
James Malton’s “Blue Coat Hospital, March 1798”
In the latter part of the 18th century a site on nearby Blackhall place was purchased and an architectural competition organized for the design of the new school. Thomas Ivory’s submission was selected although he did need two bites at the cherry to convince the judges. The 1772 competition, won by Ivory, didn’t contain any entries that were really deemed right. A second competition was organized and the committee encouraged William Chambers, who had designed Charlemont House, to enter; he declined. The Cupola AffairThomas Ivory again won the competition and construction began. It was not to be a happy time for Ivory and in 1779 he resigned when, due to budget constraints, the quadrangle to the rear of the building and the tall tower were canceled. The dome today dates from 1894 but it does raise a question of what exactly Malton was drawing as his print shows the tower as it would have been in Ivory’s design.

The school moved to Palmerstown in 1971 and the tenancy passed to the Law Society of Ireland.

24 Blue-coat Hospital. Marchmagnify-clipLaw Society of Ireland, Blackhall Place, 2013

13/25 – Royal Infirmary, Phoenix Park

15 Royal Infirmary, Phoenix Park. July 1794
James Malton’s “Royal Infirmary, Phoenix Park. July 1794”

Mention James Gandon and Dublin and you start to think of buildings such as the Four Courts or The Custom House on the banks of the river Liffey. A building that would rarely be thought about, mainly because it’s pretty much hidden away, is the Royal Military Infirmary. Located in the south east corner of the Phoenix Park the building was designed by Gandon and constructed between 1786 an 1789. George Newenham Wright wrote “It is impossible that the site could have been selected with greater taste and judgement”. Constructed on a natural raise in the park, and separated from the main park by small ravine and stream, it’s intended purpose was to treat the more serious medical cases from the nearby Barracks. It was to remain a military hospital until 1913 when it was replaced by the George V Hospital, now St Brican’s Military Hospital, in nearby Arbour Hill.

Today it is still a military establishment and is the Headquarters of the Irish Defence Forces

15 Royal Infirmary, Phoenix Parkmagnify-clipDefence Forces Headquarters, 2013

12/25 Old Soldiers Hospital, Kilmainham

The history of a hospital in Kilmainham goes back to the 12th century. The Knights Templar constructed an abbey on a corner of land granted to them by Hugh Tyrrel, Baron of Castleknock. It was funded by the Earl of Pembroke Richard de Clare or “Stongbow” as he is known in Irish history. After the Knights Templar were infamously suppressed in the 14th century the land was given to another order of Knights -The Knights of St. John. These Knights, who used the building as a hospital, held the land until 1537 when they lost it due to the Dissolution of the Monasteries. The old hospital was demolished in 1670.

Dublin’s golden age of architecture is considered to be synonymous with the British Georgian era of 1714 to 1830. In reality the age started before and ended later.14 Old Soldiers Hospital, Kilmainham. February 1794
James Malton’s “Old Soldiers Hospital, Kilmainham. February 1794”
Arguably the first major public building of the golden era was commissioned in Dublin by The Duke of Ormonde, James Bulter, and built on the site of the old Knights hospital. Inspired by Louis XIV’s Les Invalides in Paris he laid the foundation stone in 1680 and, four years later the Sir William Robinson building, designed to home and hospital army pensioners, was opened. It would serve in this role until 1927. The building, in the Palladian style popular at the time, encloses an inner quadrangle. The north wing of the building, captured by Malton in his etching, contains a baroque chapel and dining hall.

After 1922 the newly independent state looked at the possibility of using the building as the center of government but, due to the dire financial conditions that Ireland found itself in at the time, it was decided it was too costly to renovate and instead Leinster House was selected. The hospital then found itself as the Garda Headquarters but in 1950 the Commissioner and staff returned to their original building in the Phoenix Park.

The building was extensively restored in 1984, it’s 300th year, when it reopened in it’s new role as the Irish Museum of Modern Art.

Irish Museum of Modern Artmagnify-clipIrish Museum of Modern Art. August, 2013

11/25 – Tholsel

On the 26th July, 1728 a storm hit Dublin. In his “Diary of the Weather and Winds” Robert Corbet noted: “the Storm Continued to the 27 at Even: in the Morning of that Day it blew down the Cock of the Tholsel, several chimneys, and houses were stript”

During the medieval period a number of “Thosels” were built in Ireland. The name “Thosel” is supposedly derived from two Early Modern English words “Toll” and “Sael” meaning Tax Hall.  Whatever the initial function of the buildings they took on more generic civic roles over the years;  courthouse, market place, guild hall to name a few.

07 Tholsel. June 1793
James Malton “Tholsel. June 1793”
The Thosel in Dublin was nearing the end of it’s life when Malton did his print.  The storm mentioned by Corbet in 1728 was only part of the deterioration of the building with the tower having been removed on safety grounds and the building was falling into neglect.  Much of the purpose of the Thosel was also gone; the courts had their fine new building on the banks of the Liffey and the civic and merchant business had moved down the road to the new Royal Exchange built in 1779.

In 1820 the building was torn down and today the site is the Dublin Peace Park.  Some of the Thosel can still be viewed however.  Across the road from where it stood, in the crypt of Christchurch, you can find the Royal Coat of Arms and statues from the building.

07 Tholsel

magnify-clipPeace Park, 2013

10/25 – View of the Law Courts looking up the Liffey

Early on Wednesday morning Emmet Dalton looked out across the Liffey at the green copper-domed building. Designed by two of the great architects of Georgian Dublin it’s white portland stone facade was reflected off the Liffey. Dalton gave the order and moments later the artillery guns began firing.

Exchequer, Common Pleas, King’s Bench and Chancery – the four medieval courts of law and justice. Since the early 17th century they had been located in buildings around Christ Church.25 View of the Law Courts looking up the Liffey. March 1799
James Maltons “View of the Law Courts looking up the Liffey.
March 1799”
  In 1775 Thomas Cooley was commissioned with the design of a new building to combine the courts under one roof. It was to be situated across from Christ Church on the north side of the Liffey.  Cooley died before his designs were complete and the commission was given to James Gandon – architect of The Custom House and erstwhile employer of James Malton.  He expanded on Cooleys work and building commenced in 1786. Long time collaborator of Gandon, Edward Smyth, created the decorations, both inside and out. Niches filled with statues of judges and lawyers, beautiful stone flagged floor and looking down from the roof the five statues of Moses, Justice, Mercy, Authority and Wisdom. It opened for business in 1796.

Forty years later in 1840 more buildings were added. Offices of the Law Society of Ireland and, in what would turn out to be a fateful decision, a building to hold the Public Record Office.

“Early on the morning of the 28th June my wife wakened me and told me there had been a heavy explosion in the centre of the city. I realised, of course, that the Four Courts had been attacked”
– Michael O’Flanagan

In April 1922 the Irish Republican Army (IRA), a force opposed to the treaty that had partitioned Ireland into two, had occupied The Four Courts. Their intention was to provoke a military confrontation between themselves and what remained of British forces in Ireland in the belief that if this happened then the pro and anti-Treaty sides would unite to fight the British for a united Ireland.four_courts_shelling
The Four Courts, June 1922

Instead they found themselves facing the very men that they had fought alongside in the War of Independence but now reformed as the fledgling Irish Army of Saorstát Éireann – the Irish Free State.  A stand-off developed but events away from the Four Courts would force the issue. The IRA’s assassination of British Field Marshal Sir Henry Wilson in London and their capture of Irish Chief of Staff J.J. O’Connell would result in action. On the morning of the 28th Major General Emmet Dalton’s two 18 Pounder field guns, borrowed from the British Army, opened fire. Two days later the IRA forces in the building surrendered but the building itself was in ruins.

In one of the most contentious points over the events of these few days the west wing, containing the archives of the Public Records Office – almost six hundred years of Irish history – was destroyed when a large explosion ripped through the building.  Whether this happened on purpose or by accident the loss to Ireland of much of it’s documented history was painful.

T.J. Byrne, the then State architect, managed to convinced the leader of the country – W.T. Cosgrave – that the building could be saved and in 1932, slightly modified and lacking the grand interior of Edward Smyth, the building re-opened. By 1940 however steel used to save the building had rusted and further repairs were needed. In 2011 one of the column capitals supporting the dome broke and, like the country itself, highlighted that the dome was in need of some serious repair. This restoration work, under the supervision of conservation architect John Cahill, got underway in late 2013 and is expected to be completed before 2016.

25 View of the Law Courts looking up the Liffey. March
magnify-clipFour Courts, 2013. Note the scaffolding around the dome

09/25 – Custom House


It’s strange today to think that the Eiffel tower was hated by the Parisians when it opened in 1889. Equally difficult is that one of the most beautiful buildings in Dublin should have met with resistance from Dublin Corporation and the businesses of Dublin. However, as it was to be the headquarters of the Commissioners of Custom and Excise, then maybe the resistance was less for the design than for it’s function.

English architect James Gandon was commissioned by John Beresford, the Chief Revenue Commissioner, with designing and building The Custom House.  02 Custom House, July 1792
Custom House, July 1792 
Irish sculptor Edward Smyth was employeed to create the sculptors and friezes that would adore the Portland stone building and in doing so also created a lasting partership with Gandon. It took 10 years from 1781 to 1791 and during that period, as it happens, James Gandon would hire another James, one James Malton as a drawing clerk. Malton would work for Gandon for three years before a falling out would lead him to be dismissed. Whatever the facts behind the dismissal it would not stop Malton including not just The Custom House in his prints but other works of Gandons – The Four Courts, Royal Infirmary and parts of the Rotunda.

For almost a century the view eastwards down the Liffey from Carlise Bridge, would you believe yet another of Gandon’s designs, would be graced by the Custom House 738052_354421467998587_918257682_o
View of Custom House before the Loop Line bridge was built.
but in 1891 a controversial new bridge was constructed – the Loop Line Bridge. Controversial because the wrought iron bridge would block the view of the Custom House. Dubliners had forgotten their opposition a hundred years prior and had fallen in love with Gandons work. Opposition to the bridge failed and view down the Liffey all but stops now at the Loop Line bridge.

This was to turn out to be the least of the insults that the Custom House would suffer.  Within thirty years the building was a burned out husk; the dome collapsed and Gandon and Smyths interior of the building lost.  During the War of Independence the building, now a centre of local government, was attacked and occupied by Irish Republican forces.  In the ensuing battle the Custom House caught fire and burnt for five days.

Luckily, post independence, the new Irish Government decided to restore the building rather than tear it down.  The dome was reconstructed but instead of using (British) Portland stone (Irish) Ardbraccan stone was chosen.  This stonework is noticeably darker in colour than the Portland stone used in the rest of the building.  In time for it’s 200th birthday in 1989 the Office of Public Works carried out more restoration and cleaning of the stonework.

Customs House
magnify-clipCustom House, August 2013

Photographic note: The Loop Line bridge blocks the position that Malton used. I felt that today, if Malton was doing his prints, he would have chosen a spot a few feet east of the bridge.

08/25 – Royal Exchange


The 18th century saw Dublin entering a prosperous period that wouldn’t be seen again for centuries until the tiger roared. To protect their interests the merchants formed a society for “the defence of trade against any illegal imposition and the solicitation of such laws as might seem beneficial to it”. The Dublin Guild of Merchants then sought submissions for designs for a new exchange building. It was to be built on the site of the old church of Sainte Marie del Dame – land which the Wide Street Commission had allocated for this purpose – at the south end of Parliament Street. At the time the main axis of the city was Capel Street / Parliament Street and this building would have a commanding view down those streets

03 Royal Exchange. July 1792
Maltons “Royal Exchange. July 1792”

The submissions arrived and, narrowly beating his more illustrious compatriot James Gandon into second place, Thomas Cooley was giving the task of designing and building the Royal Exchange. Completed in 1779 the highlight of the neo-classical styled building was the impressive light filled rotunda as you entered with it’s impressive dome.

The Royal Exchange was subsequently sold to Dublin Corporation as their new headquarters in 1852 gaining with it it’s modern name; City Hall. Dublin Corporation then set about partitioning the inside of the building to create more office space closing down much of the lightness of the Cooley’s rotunda. In the 1980’s the Dublin Corporation moved their offices out of the City Hall and into their controversial new buildings on Wood Quay. This allowed the City Hall to be restored to it’s Thomas Cooley layout in time for the Dublin Millennium in 1988.

Royal Exchange
magnify-clipCity Hall, 2013

07/25 – West Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral


It may be an apocryphal story but if true I wonder what thoughts went through Gerald FitzGeralds mind as he thrust out his arm, through the gap in the doorway, into a building containing armed enemies. Would the trust be rewarded with a shake of his hand and peace or would it be met with the blade of a sharp sword hacking down?

In 1479 Gerald FitzGerald had been re-appointed Lord Deputy of Ireland, much to the annoyance of the Earl of Ormond Piers Butler who wanted the position himself. By 1492 this grievance had descended into war between the two families.12 West Front of St. Patrick's Cathedral. November 1793
Malton’s “West Front of St. Patrick’s Cathedral”
Legend has it that Bulters nephew ‘Black’ James’ forces were routed in a fight led by FitzGerald and he had sought sanctuary in St. Patricks. Trying to finish the fighting Gerald FitzGerald pleaded with James to agree to peace but James rebuffed the attempts so FitzGerald had his men cut a hole in the door of the Cathedral. Informing James that he wanted peace between the families FitzGerald thrust in his arm through the hole. His courage was rewarded when Butler shook his hand, peace was restored and a contender for the origin of the phrase ‘Chancing your arm’ was born.

magnify-clipWest front of St. Patricks, 2013

06/25 – St. Patrick’s Cathedral

Johnny King was only a little boy but he was on a mission; he was chasing the ducks that had escaped from his fathers shop on Bride Street. In the shadow of the spire of St. Patricks, he was happy to note that none of them had gone into the Cathedral – that would have been trouble …

Christianity in Ireland goes back to the 5th Century when another boy was kidnapped from Roman Britain and, for six years, was to be a slave in Ireland. He escaped back to his family but he was to return to Ireland years later as a missionary and, as he says in his “Confessions of St. Patrick”, he “baptized so many thousands of people”.  06 Saint Patrick's Cathedral, March 1793
Maltons “Saint Patrick’s Cathedral, 1st March 1793”
A wooden church, where some of those baptisms occurred, was built outside Dublin and was later to bare his name.

In the 12th and 13th century a new much grander church was built. It was given the status of Cathedral which was odd; Dublin already had a Cathedral – Christ Church. Turbulent times were ahead; the reformation saw St. Patricks switch from being Catholic to Anglican and demoted from Cathedral back to church status – but not for too long before Queen Mary restored it. The churches history reached it’s nadir in the 17th century when, to show dis-respect to both the Catholic and Anglican religions, Oliver Cromwell was to use the building as a stable for his horses. Things were to start to improve though. The 18th century brought with it the arrivals of both it’s most famous Dean – Jonathan Swift of “Gulliver’s Travels” fame – and the new cathedral spire. James Malton was to capture the church at this point with two prints before the 19th century would see major reconstruction and restoration of the church.

06 St. Patrick's Cathedralmagnify-clipSt. Patricks Cathedral, 2013

Photographic note: Today the Bridewell Garda Station occupies Jame Maltons location used for the print.