Photographer's Note

Pictured here the government buildings on Upper Merrion Street, central Dublin.

This dramatic Edwardian Baroque complex of buildings is arranged around a central quadrangle. Visible in the shot here is the collosal ionic portico and the dome which faces onto the street, and is the backdrop for many Irish news articles concerning politics of the state.

Contruction began in 1904 and the site was chosen partly because of the desire in Dublin to create a block of prestigious cultural, government and educational buildings, similar to the institutions of South Kensington. As it is situated by the Natural history museum and the museum of Science and art (Now the National Museum of Ireland), if fit the bill perfectly.

The architects of the complex were London man Aston Webb and Dubliner Thomas Manly Deane.

The foundation stone was laid in 1904 and, while architect Aston Webb got on with the business of designing the complex, concern began to be expressed about what Irish materials should be used in its construction. When the preliminary designs became available in 1905 it was obvious that a combination of granite and Portland stone, already in use on the facades of Admiralty Arch, would be employed. Concern grew until the architects were obliged to give an undertaking that four fifths of all building materials would be Irish. Portland stone would be used only in the decorative facings of the buildings. Granite for the rest was selected from the Ballyknocken quarries in Wicklow.

The balancing north and south wings, intended to house departments of the British administration, were completed in March 1922. To allow for the eventual building of these wings the townhouses which originally fronted the site were acquired by compulsory purchase order. DATI, as well as the Board of Works, occupied the townhouses until 1913 when, building having at last progressed to this outer periphery, they were demolished. In all, eighteen four-storey over basement houses were pulled down to makeway for the additional blocks. Ironically, Thomas Manly Deane had offices in one of the houses which had to be demolished.

The interior of the building is a tribute to Irish art and furniture making. There are marble floors, richly woven carpets and rich furnishings. One of the most notable items to see here is the glorious stained glass window entitled "my four green fields" and designed by artist Evie Hone. It dates from 1939 when it was commissioned for the Irish governments pavillion at the Worlds Fair in New York. The window also resided in the CIE offices in Dublin for many years before being meticulously taken apart, cleaned and releaded and fitted in its present home.

The exterior of the complex also features beautiful carved sculptures, some are visible in this shot.

The cost of the original complex was 225,000 pounds. The cost of its rennovation in 1990 was 17.4 million pounds.

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Additional Photos by Noel Byrne (Noel_Byrne) Gold Star Critiquer/Silver Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 4173 W: 26 N: 9238] (33764)
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