Rathmines Public Library

Rathmines Public Library was built in 1913 with the aid of a Carnegie grant. Andrew Carnegie was an American millionaire who gave money to build libraries and museums in America, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland.

This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.

Rathmines Public Library

The first public library in Rathmines was opened in June 1887 at 53 Rathmines Road. It soon became very popular and needed more space. In 1899 it moved to 67 Rathmines Road, where it stayed for 14 years, Rathmines Fire Brigade later used this building.

The lovely library that we know today was built with the aid of a £8,500 Carnegie grant. Andrew Carnegie was an American millionaire who gave money to build libraries and museums in America, England, Scotland, Wales and Ireland. One of his most famous buildings is Carnegie Hall in New York.

There was a competition to design the new library. Frederick Hicks won the competition and the firm of Bachelor and Hicks of Dublin were the architects for the new building. The new library opened on 24th October 1913. The library was built using red brick and was designed to fit in with the style of the Town Hall, and it was intended to be an ‘ornament to the township’. The library and technical school next door were part of the same building but each had a separate entrance.

The library had a lending department where people could borrow books and a reference library where they could sit and read. It also had a special room where people could come to read the newspapers each day. This was a large sunny room on the ground floor where it was pleasant to read. Newspapers were expensive for ordinary people in those days, so people looked up the news and the jobs pages in the library. Half way up the beautiful double staircase is a stained glass window designed by William Morris. William Morris was a famous English artist and designer who designed beautiful furniture and fabrics.

In the beginning there was no children’s library. Mary Kettle, a councillor in Rathmines, and other women councillors were very interested in making poor children’s lives better. They voted to provide school meals to make sure that children were not hungry. They also supported the opening of a children’s library in Rathmines and this happened in 1923.

The library was used by lots of different groups in the community. Rathmines chess club used the library as its headquarters. The Public Health Department held clinics there. The Thomas Davis branch of the Gaelic League also held meetings in the library.

The library holds the only surviving plaque from the Princess Cinema. This cinema was opened as the Rathmines Picture Palace on 24th March 1913, just a few months before the library opened. It is not there now as the building was sold in June 1981 and was demolished in 1982.

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