History of Dublin City Council

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Dublin Corporation (now Dublin City Council) was established in 1840 as a result of the Municipal Corporation Reform (Ireland) Act.

This law implemented many important reforms that were needed to improve the operations and accountability of local government. One of the most significant of these was to greatly increase the number of people who could vote in city elections.

Key dates: 1840 to Independence (1921)

1841: October: The first elections under the new system are held. The old City Assembly is replaced by a more representative City Council. Daniel O’Connell becomes the first democratically-elected Lord Mayor of Dublin. Read more about the Lord Mayors of Dublin

1849: The City Council takes over the duties of the ‘Wide Streets Commission’ and the ‘Paving Board’ as a result of the Dublin Improvement Act, 1849.

1852: The Council moves its headquarters from the City Assembly House to the Royal Exchange building. The Royal Exchange is then re-named City Hall.

1862: The Dublin Fire Brigade is established. Find out more about Dublin Fire Brigade.

1868: The Vartry Water Scheme starts supplying clean water to the citizens of Dublin. 

1875: The Council is given power to build housing for working people. One of the first schemes starts work at Benburb Street in 1887 and is designed by City Architect, Daniel Freeman.

1875 : The Council begins to acquire property for conversion into public parks. This is made possible by the Open Spaces Act, 1875.

1884: Public Libraries are opened in Thomas Street and Capel Street. Read more about libraries in Dublin.

1892: Dublin’s first electricity power station begins operations in Fleet Street.

1908: The Council starts registering new motor vehicles

1908: The Main Drainage Scheme for Dublin City is completed.

Key dates: Independence (1921) to today

1921: Following the War of Independence, some members of the City Council oppose the Anglo Irish Treaty.

1924: As a result of the Civil War, the Council is suspended in May and replaced by three commissioners.

1930: The Town Clerk (in existence since 1230) is replaced by a Dublin City Manager and Town Clerk. This new position is intended to reflect the role of a Chief Executive in a large company. Read more about the City Manager.

1930: The city’s boundaries are extended to include the townships of Rathmines and Pembroke.

1930s: Housing becomes a main focus for the Council. Suburbs are expanded to include Drumcondra, Crumlin and Cabra

1940s-1950s: Dublin’s suburbs are further expanded to encompass Ballyfermot and Ballymun.

1970s: Dublin City Council requires further office space and—after examining a number of sites—decides to build at Wood Quay on the banks of the River Liffey. The decision proves controversial as the site holds the remains of Dublin’s ancient Viking town.

1978: 20,000 people march in protest against the proposed office block in an attempt to save the Viking site. However, following excavations by the National Museum, building goes ahead.

2001: The Local Government Act abolishes the old county borough corporations and replaces them with city councils. Dublin Corporation (known to generations of Dubliners as ‘The Corpo’) changes its name to ‘Dublin City Council’.

2001-present: Dublin grows at an unprecedented rate. Many major projects are completed or are underway. This includes the port tunnel, tram system (Luas), metro system, new housing and street regeneration. 

For more information

Dublin City Archivist
Pearse Street Library
Dublin 2

Tel: (01) 674 4999
Email: cityarchives@dublincity.ie

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