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Visiting the City Hall, Dublin, Ireland: 18th century neo-Classicism by Thomas Cooley

Updated on May 10, 2012
Flag of the Republic of Ireland
Flag of the Republic of Ireland | Source
Dublin City Hall
Dublin City Hall | Source
Bertie Ahern
Bertie Ahern | Source
Map location of Dublin, Ireland
Map location of Dublin, Ireland | Source

Municipal hub in Georgian splendour

This is one of the finest examples of Georgian architecture in Dublin (Irish: Baile Átha Cliath ), Ireland.

Some history and features

The structure is the City Hall (Irish: Halla na Cathrach ), and it was built between 1769 and 1779, with the lines of familiar neo-Classical style being very evident. The architect was Thomas Cooley (1740-1784)(1). Portland stone was used for the building.

Features of the building include a central, domed entrance hall with twelve pillars, in which there are statues of prominent figures in Irish history, including Daniel O'Connell and Thomas Davis; paintings depicting religious and historical scenes.

Originally housing the Royal Exchange, since 1852 the building has been the headquarters of Dublin Corporation, now known as Dublin City Council (Irish: Comhairle Cathrach Bhaile Átha Cliath ). The building is located at the junction of Dame Street with Parliament Street; its pillared frontage is a familiar landmark in central Dublin.

Among the prized contents of the City Hall are the mace and the sword of the city. In the building there is an historical display 'The Story of the Capital', tracing Dublin's past since Medieval times. In recent years the building has undergone a program of refurbishment.

The title of Lord Mayor of Dublin (Irish: Ardmhéara Bhaile Átha Cliath ) has been in existence since 1665, with the previously used title of Mayor of Dublin dating from 1229. Some of the more well-known former Lords Mayor of Dublin have subsequently gone on to careers in national politics, including former Taoiseach (Prime Minister) Bertie Ahern (2), Frank Cluskey and Seán Haughey. Some of the holders of the office have been strongly Republican: for example, Tomás Mac Giolla had previously served as President of Sinn Féin and in other prominent rôles; before Kathleen Clarke assumed her Lord Mayoralty in 1939, she had previously been prominent in Sinn Féin .

In 1922, the lying-in-state of Michael Collins was held at the City Hall.


(1) Another building for which Architect Cooley is known is the Four Courts, continued after his death by James Gandon.

(2) A brother to the former Taoiseach , Maurice Ahern, also served as Lord Mayor; another brother, Noel Ahern, also served on Dublin Council and as a government minister.

Also worth seeing

Dublin has numerous examples of fine architecture; a few of these include: the Four Courts (Irish: Na Ceithre Cúirteanna ), the GPO (Irish: Ard-Oifig an Phoist ), Dublin Castle (Irish: Caisleán Bhaile Átha Cliath ) the Custom House (Irish: Teach an Chustaim ), the Old Houses of Parliament (Irish: Tithe na Parlaiminte ), Trinity College (Irish: Coláiste na Tríonóide ), Leinster House (Irish: Teach Laighean ), Government Buildings (Irish:Tithe an Rialtais ), and many others.


How to get there: Aer Lingus flies from New York and Boston to Dublin Airport (Irish: Aerfort Bhaile Átha Cliath ), from where car rental is available. Car parking can be difficult in Dublin City centre and a good way to get around the city is by Dublin Bus (Irish: Bus Átha Cliath ). You are advised to check with the airline or your travel agent for up to date information. Please refer to appropriate consular sources for any special border crossing arrangements which may apply to citizens of certain nationalities.

MJFenn is an independent travel writer based in Ontario, Canada.

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