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Photographer's Note

Pictured here is the original Irish Houses of Parliament in College Green, Central Dublin. The building is more commonly known today as the Bank of Ireland, as the bank now runs one of its most iconic branches from here.

Construction on the complex began in February 1729 to the designs of the architect Edward Lovett Pearce. It was the worlds first ever purpose built two chamber parliament house. The design of the building was revolutionary in Dublin, and occupied nearly one and a half acres. The entrance we see in this picture is the principal entrance featuring Ionic columns, and above the portico three statues representing Hibernia, Fidelity and Commerce. The royal coat of arms are cut into the stone in the portico.

The architect Pearce died young, and the famous architect of so many of Dublin's landmarks; James Gandon provided the designs for extensions. 1789 saw the completion of a new entrance at Westmoreland street. To mark this as a different entrance, the peers who used this new entrance way asked for the new portico to feature Corinthian columns, which can be seen still today. This portico is topped with statues of Fortitude, Justice and Liberty.

The original designs by Pearce were considered revolutionary, and this could be seen in the places where aspects of its design were copied. The British Museum in London copied the columned main entrance seen here for its own front façade, while the US Capitol in Washington DC copied aspects of this Dublin landmark.

In 1800, the abolition of the Irish Parliament, and the creation of the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland saw the country lose its own parliament, and governance of the country move to London. This move had a dramatic effect on the entire city of Dublin, but it also meant that this fine structure could no longer serve its original purpose.

In 1803 it was bought by the then young bank; Bank of Ireland. They paid 40,000 pounds to the British government with one caveat. It was insisted that the building must be adapted for use by the bank in such a way that it could never be used as a parliament again.

In recent years, there have been many suggestions that the building should come back into public ownership, with some of these including as an art gallery, as an office for Dublin's Mayor, as a parliament building, or as a cultural venue.

To date, all of these ideas have met with resistance from the bank who own it. This is annoying to many people who regard the handing over of the building to the Irish people as being appropriate, seeing as the Irish tax payers footed the bill for baling the bank out in the Irish Banking crisis.

Its position in the city overlooking College Green, and across the road from Trinity College has made it one of Dublin's most highly regarded buildings. Visible here is just one of its three main entrances, and not visible in this shot are the other two great porticos, and the huge semi circular granite wall which links the College Green and Westmoreland street entrances.

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Additional Photos by Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 2641 W: 12 N: 6312] (22106)
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