Customs House, Dublin


The Customs House, Dublin
Early 1920s

The Custom House in Dublin is regarded as one of the jewels in the city’s architectural crown. A masterpiece of European neo-classicism, it took 10 years to build and was completed in 1791. It cost the then not inconsiderable sum of 200,000 sterling. It was the greatest achievement of James Gandon who had been brought over from England to carry out the work. Gandon had been chosen by John Beresford, Chief Revenue Commissioner and a small coterie of the Irish ascendency who were then in the process of enhancing the streets and public buildings of Dublin.
Government of Ireland

Construction started in 1781, and for his assistants Gandon chose Irish artists such as Meath stone-cutter Henry Darley, mason John Semple and carpenter Hugh Henry. Every available mason in Dublin was engaged in the work. When it was completed and opened for business on 7 November 1791, it had cost £200,000 to build – a considerable sum at the time. The four facades of the building are decorated with coats-of-arms and ornamental sculptures (by Edward Smyth) representing Ireland’s rivers. Another artist, Henry Banks, was responsible for the statue on the dome and other statues. . . . As the port of Dublin moved further downriver, the building’s original use for collecting customs duties became obsolete, and it was used as the headquarters of the Local Government Board for Ireland.

During the Irish War of Independence in 1921, the Irish Republican Army burnt down the Custom House, to disrupt British rule in Ireland by destroying tax records. Gandon’s original interior was completely destroyed in the fire and the central dome collapsed. . . . After the Anglo-Irish Treaty, it was restored by the Irish Free State government. The results of this reconstruction can still be seen on the building’s exterior today – the dome was rebuilt using Irish Ardbraccan limestone which is noticeably darker than the Portland stone used in the original construction.
Wikipedia.

“The new picture of Dublin : or Stranger’s guide through the Irish metropolis, containing a description of every public and private building worthy of notice”, Philip Dixon Hardy, 1831

This great edifice is jointly the House of Customs and Excise ; and, besides all the offices necessary for these purposes, contains dwelling houses for the Chief Commissioners, Secretaries, &c. The doors on each side of the portico in the south front, lead into passages running the whole depth of the building, with a range of offices down them on one side. The great stair-case, with its Ionic colonnade, is deservedly admired. The Long-Room is a superb apartment, 70 feet by 65, ornamented with composite columns, and enlightened by two large circular lanterns. The Trial and Board-rooms, in the north front, are also very handsome apartments ; but the Long-room is the only one worthy the visitor’s notice.
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On the east of the Custom-house is a wet dock, capable of containing forty sail of vessels ; and along the quay that bounds it on the east and north is a range of capacious and commodious houses. . . . To the north-east of the former docks and stores an extensive piece of ground has been enclosed with a wall fifty feet in height, three sides of which are to be occupied with stores. Inside of this a new dock, measuring 650 feet by 300, has been formed, with a basin 300 feet by 250. In a line with the Custom-house, to the east, stands the Tobacco-store, which covers nearly an acre of ground, and in the construction of which no materials of a combustible nature have been used.
“The new picture of Dublin : or Stranger’s guide through the Irish metropolis, containing a description of every public and private building worthy of notice”, Philip Dixon Hardy, 1831

Front Elevation & plan “Monumental classic architecture in Great Britain and Ireland during the eighteenth & nineteenth centuries”, Albert Edward Richardson, 1914

The ground selected for the new building had not even been purchased at this time, but when this was arranged the difficulties that presented themselves dismayed Gandon the more he advanced. He relates soon after his arrival — “At last I ventured, but at very early hours in the morning, to walk over the grounds,” and the necessity for being cautious will be understood when it is told that a meeting v/as held to devise some way of preventing the project from being carried into effect, and the Sunday after the site had been marked out, hundreds of the people met there, and it was feared that the trenches, which had been dug, would be filled up. On this occasion, however, the mob, perhaps rendered good humoured by the amount of whiskey and gingerbread consumed during the day, only amused themselves by swimming in the water with which the trenches were filled. Later, however, in response to a meeting convened by the Corporation and headed by some of the leading citizens, the people paid another visit to the place and pulled down a fence that had been erected on the river side.
“Sketches of old Dublin”, Ada Peter, 1907

Innisfallen Abbey, Innisfallen, Ireland


Innisfallen Oratory
Publisher closed 1906, but card dated 1912
Publiser: John Evelyn Wrench

Google Street View (approximate).

Innisfallen Abbey is located on a picturesque island on the lake of Lough Leane (“Lake of Learning”) in Killarney national park. Tradition holds that it was founded in the 6th Century as a leper colony by Saint Fionán (Saint Finnian), whose life was dedicated to tending the sick. The church was later established as an Augustinian priory, and quickly became a centre for education in the early Christian world. It’s greatest scholar was the monk Maelsuthain O’Carroll (‘chief doctor of the Western world’), who gained great eminence and respect amongst contemporary princes. He was friend to the famous king Brain Boru, and it is claimed that in the 10th Century, the king was educated under Maelsuthain’s care at Innisfallen, and Maelsuthain is later named as the king’s counsellor during his reign. Innisfallen’s remote location did not protect it entirely from the outside world. It was twice raided by Vikings, and in 1180AD, it was plundered by Maiilduin, son of Donal O’Donoghue. The monks quickly recovered from this setback, and the church continued to flourish as a centre of learning.
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Although the abbey was formally dissolved in 1540AD, passing into the hands of Richard Harding, it is not known whether it was abandoned at this time. The monks of neighbouring Muckross Abbey remained in residence until the 1580s, and the remote location of Innisfallen may have allowed it some respite. It is know to have been abandoned by the time Oliver Cromwell’s troops ravaged Ireland, however, in the mid 17th Century.

Isle of Albion

While the abbey dates back to the seventh century, the oldest extant structure, dated to the tenth century, is the western two-thirds of the abbey church. The remainder of the church and the main abbey complex were constructed in the thirteenth century. A third structure, an oratory with a Hiberno-Romanesque doorway, dates from the twelfth century.
Wikipedia.

Cross of the Scriptures, Clonmacnoise, Ireland


Ancient Cross at Clonmacroise, Ireland
c.1909
Publisher: Shurey’s Publications (1903-1927)
On back: This beautiful Series of Fine Art Post Cards is supplied free exclusively by Shurey’s Publications, comprising “Smart Novels,” “Yes or No.” and “Dainty Novels” The Publications are obtainable through Great Britain, the Colonies and Foreign Countries””

Google Street View.

Amongst the many remains at Clonmacnois are two complete High Crosses plus the shaft of another. The most famous, the Cross of the Scriptures, also known as King Flann’s Cross, is the centre-piece of the new interpretive centre. The crosses were moved from their original positions in 1991 into the new centre and superb replicas were placed outside in the original positions. Pictured right is the west face of the Cross of the Scriptures. Shown from the bottom panel up: Soldiers guarding the tomb of Christ, the arrest of Christ, Flagellation and in the centre of the ring the Crucifixion. This cross is decorated with figure sculpture on all four sides.
Megalithic Ireland.

Cross of the Scriptures: This 4-metre-high sandstone cross is one of the most skilfully executed of the surviving high crosses in Ireland, and of particular interest for its surviving inscription, which asks a prayer for Flann Sinna, King of Ireland, and Abbot Colmán who commissioned the cross. Both men were also responsible for the building of the Cathedral. The cross was carved from Clare sandstone c.900. The surface of the cross is divided into panels, showing scenes including the Crucifixion, the Last Judgement, and Christ in the Tomb. The original was moved into the visitors’ centre in 1991 to preserve it from the elements; a replica stands at the original site.
Wikipedia.

Irish Jaunting Car


An Irish Jaunting Car
c.1910
Publisher: Valentine

A jaunting car is a light two-wheeled carriage for a single horse, with a seat in front for the driver. In its most common form with seats for two or four persons placed back to back, with the foot-boards projecting over the wheels and the typical conveyance for persons in Ireland at one time (outside jaunting car). Also with passenger seats facing each other (inside jaunting car).
Wikipedia.

This is, properly, an Irish machine. The jaunting car is almost peculiar to our island. A. Scotchman or an Englishman on first landing at Dublin or at Kingstown is struck with this peculiarity; but: they soon learn to relish so agreeable and handsome a conveyance. It is true, that the cars for hire do not present very great temptations: the miserable horses, and too often the squalid, dirty drivers, clamoring for a fare, and underbidding each other with fierce vociferation, while the furious driving, and incessant attempts to take advantage of ignorance and inexperience, render the Dublin carmen almost intolerable, (we speak generally) except to those who are content to endure these disadvantages for the pleasure and ease of being conveyed to any part of the city or country. But none who have enjoyed the comforts of that pleasant vehicle, a private car, will quarrel with our designating it agreeable and handsome. Almost every citizen who can afford it, (and we are sorry to add, many who can not,) keeps a car
“The (Irish) Jaunting Car”, from the Dublin Penny Journal, 14 July 1832

Ross Castle, Ireland


Ross Castle (Reflection) Killarney
c.1910
Publisher: L. Anthony, Killarney

Google Street View.

Ross Castle (Irish: Caisleán an Rois) is a 15th-century tower house and keep on the edge of Lough Leane, in Killarney National Park, County Kerry, Ireland . . . . The castle is typical of strongholds of Irish chieftains built during the Middle Ages. The tower house had square bartizans on diagonally opposite corners and a thick end wall. The tower was originally surrounded by a square bawn defended by round corner towers on each end.
Wikipedia.

Ross Castle perches in an inlet of Lough Leane. It is likely that the Irish chieftain O’Donoghue Mór built it in the fifteenth century. . . . Ross Castle was the last place in Munster to hold out against Cromwell. Its defenders, then led by Lord Muskerry, took confidence from a prophecy holding that the castle could only be taken by a ship. Knowing of the prophecy, the Cromwellian commander, General Ludlow, launched a large boat on the lake. When the defenders saw it, this hastened the surrender – and the prophecy was fulfilled.
Heritage Ireland

Glendalough, Ireland


Glendalough
Publisher: Valentine

Google Maps (location).

Postcard for St Kevin’s Church

Glendalough (Irish: Gleann Dá Loch, meaning “Valley of two lakes”) is a glacial valley in County Wicklow, Ireland, renowned for an Early Medieval monastic settlement founded in the 6th century by St Kevin. From 1825 to 1957, the head of the Glendalough Valley was the site of a galena lead mine. Glendalough is also a recreational area for picnics, for walking along networks of maintained trails of varying difficulty, and also for rock-climbing.
Wikipedia.

Sugarloaf Mountain from Powerscourt Estate, Co. Wicklow, Ireland


Sugarloaf Mountain from Powerscourt, Co. Wicklow
Postmarked 1914
Publisher: E. Lynch, Bray

Google Street View

The beautiful Italian Garden truly offers the best in garden landscaping and design. The garden was designed to create a view that was part of the wider landscape and the result is a magnificent vista in every season. The exquisite series of terraces linking the house to the lake were constructed between 1843 and 1867 and were quite a feat to complete! Up to 100 labourers were employed in the work which took 12 years to complete. The design of the upper stone terrace nearest the house was influenced by Villa Butera in Sicily and the steep streets of Genoa and other Italian towns.
Powerscourt Estate

St Stephen’s Park, Dublin, Ireland


St Stephen’s Green Park. Dublin.

Published: Lawrence, Dublin
c.1910

Google Maps.

The name St Stephen’s Green originates from a church called St Stephen’s in that area in the thirteenth century. Attached to the church was a leper hospital. Around this time the area was a marshy piece of common ground, which extended as far as the River Dodder and was used by the citizens of the city for grazing livestock. In 1663 the City Assembly decided that the plot of ground could be used to generate income for the city and a central area of twenty-seven acres was marked out which would define the park boundary, with the remaining ground being let out into ninety building lots. Rent generated was to be used to build walls and paving around the Green. Each tenant also had to plant six sycamore trees near the wall, in order to establish some privacy within the park. In 1670 the first paid gardeners were employed to tend to the park.

By the nineteenth century the condition of the park had deteriorated to such an extent that the perimeter wall was broken, and many trees were to be found in bad condition around the park. In 1814 commissioners representing the local householders were handed control of the park. They replaced the broken wall with ornate Victorian railings and set about planting more trees and shrubs in the park. New walks were also constructed to replace the formal paths previously found in the park. However with these improvements, the Green then became a private park accessible only to those who rented keys to the park from the Commission, despite the 1635 law which decreed that the park was available for use by all citizens. This move was widely resented by the public.

Sir Arthur Guinness, later known as Lord Ardilaun, grew up in Iveagh House located on St Stephen’s Green, and came from a family well noted for its generosity to the Dublin public. In 1877 Sir Arthur offered to buy the Green from the commission and return it to the public. He paid off the park’s debts and secured an Act which ensured that the park would be managed by the Commissioners of Public Works, now the OPW. Sir Arthur’s next objective was to landscape the park, and provide an oasis of peace and tranquility in the city. He took an active part in the design of the redeveloped park, and many of the features in the park are said to have been his suggestions. The main features of the redeveloped park included a three-acre lake with a waterfall, picturesquely-arranged Pulham rockwork, and a bridge, as well as formal flower beds, and fountains. The superintendent’s lodge was designed with Swiss shelters. It is estimated the redevelopment of the park cost £20,000.
St Stephen’s Park

Access to the Green was restricted to local residents, until 1877, when Parliament passed an Act to reopen St Stephen’s Green to the public, at the initiative of Sir A.E. Guinness, a member of the Guinness brewing family who lived at St Anne’s Park, Raheny and at Ashford Castle. He later paid for the laying out of the Green in approximately its current form, which took place in 1880, and gave it to the Corporation, as representatives of the people. By way of thanks the city commissioned a statue of him, which faces the College of Surgeons. His brother Edward lived at Iveagh House, which his descendants gave in 1939 to the Department of External Affairs (now the Department of Foreign Affairs).

During the Easter Rising of 1916, a group of insurgents made up mainly of members of the Irish Citizen Army, under the command of Commandant Michael Mallin, his second-in-command Kit Poole, and Constance Markievicz, established a position in St Stephen’s Green. They numbered between 200 and 250.[ They confiscated motor vehicles to establish road blocks on the streets that surround the park, and dug defensive positions in the park itself. This approach differed from that of taking up positions in buildings, adopted elsewhere in the city. It proved to have been unwise when elements of the British Army took up positions in the Shelbourne Hotel, at the northeastern corner of St Stephen’s Green, overlooking the park, from which they could shoot down into the entrenchments. Finding themselves in a weak position, the Volunteers withdrew to the Royal College of Surgeons on the west side of the Green. During the Rising, fire was temporarily halted to allow the park’s groundsman to feed the local ducks.
Wikipedia

St Kevin’s Church, Glendalough, Ireland


ST KEVIN’S KITCHEN AND ROUND TOWER, GLENDALOUGH
1932s

Street View

St. Kevin’s Church better known as St. Kevin’s Kitchen is a nave-and-chancel church of the 12th century. It is called St Kevin’s kitchen because people believed that the bell tower was a chimney to a kitchen but really no food was ever cooked there. This stone-roofed building originally had a nave only, with entrance at the west end and a small round-headed window in the east gable. The belfry with its conical cap and four small windows rises from the west end of the stone roof in the form of a miniature round tower.
Visit Wicklow

This stone-roofed building originally had a nave only, with entrance at the west end and a small round-headed window in the east gable. The upper part of the window can be seen above what became the chancel arch when the chancel (now missing) and the sacristy were added later. The steep roof, formed of overlapping stones, is supported internally by a semi-circular vault. Access to the croft or roof chamber was through a rectangular opening towards the western end of the vault. The church also had a timber first floor. The belfry with its conical cap and four small windows rises from the west end of the stone roof in the form of a miniature round tower. It is commonly known as St. Kevin’s Kitchen as the bell tower resembles a kitchen chimney. However, food was not cooked here.
Wikipedia.