Dublin's civic buildings transcript
The following is a transcript of 'Dublin's civic buildings in the early modern period', the thirteenth Sir John T. Gilbert Commemorative Lecture by Professor Colm Lennon, at Dublin City Library and Archive on 22nd January 2009. Audio
Welcome to the Dublin City Public Libraries and Archive Podcast. In this episode, Professor Colm Lennon looks at Dublin's civic buildings of the 17th and early 18th centuries, a hugely important time in the development of the city. The twelfth annual Sir John T. Gilbert Commemorative Lecture, was recorded in front of a live audience at Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street on 22 January 2009.
Thank you very much Lord Mayor, ladies and gentlemen. It’s a great honour to have been asked to deliver this John T. Gilbert commemorative lecture here in the place which houses his manuscripts and books, which are so important for a history of Dublin. And indeed, I’d like to thank very much the City Librarian, and all concerned with organising the lecture, and also to pay tribute to the work of the City Library and Archive in preserving so much of the history and the heritage of Dublin, as we’ve been hearing in the City Librarian’s introduction. We’ve been hearing about it.
So I’ll get on then by taking first of all a perspective from the west side of Dublin, a traveller approaching in 1699. Here we have a painting by Thomas Bate. And in this we can see, on the south bank of the Liffey, we can see the newly built, just jutting in there the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham, on the southern bank of the Liffey as it flows eastwards. Scanning the skyline of the city itself, we can see the outline of the Tholsel which is the tallest of the buildings on view. The other dominating edifices are mainly ecclesiastical, Christchurch Cathedral, and St Patrick’s Cathedral. The only building of note on the north bank of the Liffey at this time is St Michan’s parish church. But all that was to change within 50 years, as we’ll see. From this assemblage of buildings, we may divine symbols in stone, of the powers that bound the lives of citizens at the end of the 17th century. The civic corporation had recently enhanced its headquarters at the Tholsel in the heart of the old city. To the extent that the building rose above all others, at least from this viewpoint. By the 1680s and 1690s, the state had become a key participant in the building of Dublin and its environs, providing a magnificent addition to urban architecture, with the hospital for veteran troops at Kilmainham. The influence of the established Church of Ireland was reflected in the continuing prominence of spires and towers. But an era of church construction in many new suburban areas was yet to begin. In the Historic Towns Atlas for Dublin, which the Lord Mayor kindly mentioned, 1610 to 1756, I listed most or all of the topographical features, including buildings. But my lecture tonight provides a brief gloss or opportunity really, to interpret this their gazetteer, exploring how the set of public buildings acquired by the city in the period, matched its aspirations to cosmopolitanism.
The 17th and early 18th centuries were crucial for the construction of Dublin. John Rocque for example, listing over two dozen public buildings in the index to his Exact Survey of Dublin in 1756. As well as centres of civic administration, I shall be referring to other public structures which touched the quotidian lives of men and women in Dublin, including churches. In seeking to explain why this early modern period, as it’s sometimes called, was so significant for the buildings of Dublin, we shall examine the reasons that drove the planners and architects to construct them in the manner and locations in which they did. The history of Dublin’s buildings is intertwined with that of the city’s rise to political, economic and social dominance of its region, and in time, the rest of Ireland. These public structures set in their social context, have much to tell us about patronage and urban consciousness and attitudes to political power, economic progress, welfare and charity and leisured culture. We may also take account of the spatial disposition of the buildings of the early modern city, in order to establish the social topography of Dublin. A survey of the purposes, forms and locations of Dublin’s early modern buildings may help towards an understanding of the ascendancy of the Irish capital among European capital cities by the later 18th century.
To judge by John Speed’s map of 1610, the small city of Dublin at that time was graced by few public buildings of note, apart from the churches and the dissolved monasteries. These latter premises had been converted to a variety of purposes, including a college in the case of All Hallows, just off the map there, an Inns of Court, St Saviour’s and residences such as Whitefriars and Thomas Court. Such administrative centres as were standing, had sustained extensive damage during the great explosion at the quayside in 1597, from which the city was still recovering. The Custom House, with its crane for example, which had stood about here, was still not replaced. It was only being rebuilt or being planned at this particular stage. The old Tholsel number 46 here, in the centre of the old city, on this map it doesn’t really appear to be much bigger than the surrounding buildings on St Nicholas Street and Skinner’s Row, but it was very dilapidated and in much need of repair. The buildings of Dublin Castle were also badly decayed at this juncture. The King’s Hall for example, which housed the parliament, being described as still ruinous in 1609, 1606 rather, nine years after the explosion. And the Four Courts of Justice, had moved to the former monastic precincts of Christchurch Cathedral, right in the heart of the city. Apart from the college, two new institutions, the Bridewell and the Hospital, thirteen and ten, are depicted to the east of the walls by Speed, and these are indicative of the beginnings of urban expansion in an easterly direction in the early modern period. The Bridewell and Hospital did not fulfil their original functions for long. The confinement of vagrants and the care of sick and wounded soldiers respectively. But were soon made over for other purposes. A residence and later parliament house in the case of the Hospital, as a school and university residence in that of the Bridewell. Although in 1577, Richard Stanihurst had described the public buildings of his native Dublin as “gorgeous”, his view was not generally concurred with by travellers from abroad. In 1635 for example, William Brereton deemed many of the public structures and public places that he visited to be “mean and ordinary”. Though he did state that the expanding city was gaining “much additions of building lately and some of these very fair, stately and complete”.
This physical growth of early modern Dublin, obviously necessitated a great deal more of public construction, whether in the form of administrative buildings, charitable and educational institutions, commercial facilities and parish churches. In terms of numbers, Dublin had perhaps between 10,000 and 20,000 people in the early 17th century. But by 1750, there were almost 150,000. In terms of extent, the urbanised area increased at least threefold, between 1610, the year of Speed’s map and 1756, the year of John Rocque’s famous delineation. Contemporaneous with this increase in size and number, the centre of gravity of Dublin shifted ever eastwards, away from the old urban core around Christchurch Cathedral and the Tholsel, to the pivotal Essex Bridge, which came to link the new suburban estates to the north of the Liffey with the administrative hub to the south.
Just as the religious houses provided nodal points for extra-mural suburban buildings in the medieval period, a centrifugal force was exerted by the early modern development of the green spaces around Dublin, marked by the disposition of new monumental building and churches on a larger canvas. This Historic Towns Atlas map of Dublin from 1610 to 1756, shows the widespread dispersal of public buildings throughout the newly expanded urban environs. And there’s a mixture of different categories of buildings here. But you can get the idea of the spreading out of the city from the initial core, which is marked in the centre there by the black perimeter of the old walls.
Our first opportunity to take stock of some of these trends is offered by Bernard de Gomme’s map of 1673. After a decade and more of peace under the restoration, this chief engineer of Charles II was sent to Ireland to report on the defensive fortifications of the country. In the process of proposing an elaborate citadel to the east of Dublin, de Gomme mapped the city in some details, including in his delineation, several civic and public buildings, new and old. The Tholsel is still very much a central feature of the old walled enclave. And it’s still though in its un-refurbished state. And it doesn’t really look as if it has many distinguishing features. Separate from it is the Merchant’s Exchange, which is just outside the walls and it’s in Cork House on Cork Hill. St Stephen’s Green is taking shape here, down in the south east, under municipal auspices as we heard, with a garden laid out and the western lots built upon.
Under the Lord Lieutenants of the late Stuart period, there were courtly aspirations to a centralised set of state offices. But as yet, there is a diffusion of the functions of government evident here. In spite of some improvements in the castle buildings, down to the time of the great fire in the 1680s, the parliament had moved out to the former hospital and later Chichester House on College Green, which we mentioned already. The council chamber is located near the Custom House. And the Treasury, which is located here actually, off Christ Church Lane, was also in the same vicinity, more to the east of the old walls. The military establishment is dispersed between the castle, with its magazine and powder house and St Michael’s Hill, where the lifeguard was based. A newly designated charitable building appears in the form of the Bridewell in Oxmanstown. Meanwhile, no obvious development of port or riverine facilities is recorded on de Gomme’s map, apart from the presence of a new bridge across the Liffey. This one here to the west. The first to be built at the city in over 600 years. de Gomme’s assistant in 1673, Thomas Phillips, revisited Ireland 12 years later in 1685 and produced another map, which shows the remarkable pace of development in the intervening years.
The major new public building acquired is the Royal Hospital in Kilmainham, and it’s prominently displayed to the west of the city. The only remaining named public structures that figured here are the Castle and the College. But St Stephen’s Green is more or less fully developed now, with its northern and southern sides at least built upon. A foreshadowing of the great engineering works in the 18th century is perhaps the concentration upon the location of the channels of the Liffey, as they flow out into the bay, with a view to obviating the tremendous handicap which the coagulated channels presented to mercantile and maritime activity down to that time. But the most spectacular progress in the 12 year interval, I think is seen in the evolution of a whole new urban estate on the old St Mary’s lands to the north of the Liffey, which had been laid out in the interim by Humphrey Jervis. To encompass this northern suburban growth, there are three new bridges depicted by Phillips on his map, Essex Bridge and Ormond Bridge, which is slightly erroneously located here, and Ellis Bridge or what’s now Queen’s Street Bridge. So the Liffey now has its five bridges of the early modern period, down to, of course the later building of Sackville Bridge.
Several factors drove the planning and construction of new civic buildings in Dublin during the 17th and early 18th centuries. Perhaps most important, was the city’s new status as a real national capital of a centralising polity. Contrasting with its former role as a regional focus for the late medieval pale. The apparatus of government had to be accommodated in appropriately monumental structures, capable of bodying forth the authority of the state. Moreover, as an entrepôt and port for the commerce of most of the island, Dublin needed mercantile and maritime facilities to cater for the increasing volume of trade and services. The municipal administration which entered a phase of sometimes uneasy co-operation with central government, was expansive in the scope and range of its services. Besides the older civic families, its personnel incorporated large numbers of newcomers who were less bound by urban traditions and attracted to building in hitherto peripheral areas, away from the old intra-mural core. Gradually, an overarching mentalité of civic improvement took hold, which fuelled much public and private enterprise. Even to the extent of intrusion on the medieval commons of Dublin. Once urban estates were developed, mostly though not exclusively through private entrepreneurship, new forms of public buildings were elicited in the spheres of administration, charity, education and leisure. Particularly notable in this respect was the new parish church building in the early decades of the 18th century, which helped to form countries of streets and lanes into self identifying parochial units.
So in order to elucidate the spirit of this new phase of public construction, more or less at its inception, I’d like to highlight three buildings of the 1670s and 1680s in the municipal, state and ecclesiastical spheres. Each has aspects of innovativeness, functionality and display eluded to in respect of early modern governance. The first is the aforementioned Tholsel, effectively the city hall, fronting on to Skinner’s Row, now Christ Church Place. The headquarters of civic government since the middle ages, the Tholsel was the venue for civic assembly and the recorded court. As mentioned, the premises were in a state of great disrepair in the earlier 17th century. A great cleft in the eastern flank causing real fears of collapse. By the 1670s, even running repairs were held to be inadequate. And so a decision was taken to rebuild on the same site, though enlarged by adjacent land acquisition. The rebuilding took up to nine years, from 1676 to 1685 under the supervision of Thomas Graves. Whereas the old building had been apparently a plain edifice, to judge by de Gomme’s sketch in 1673, Thomas Dineley presented it in 1681 as an ornate construction with pillars, arcades, niches for statues all topped by an elaborate lantern containing a clock. This latter feature is the one that juts up above the skyline in the painting of Thomas Bate in 1699 and the sketch of Francis Place in the previous year. The niches were filled by monarchical statues of Charles I and Charles II, though other scholars have claimed that perhaps James II was the subject of the statue mooted to be that of the father. But in any case they were the first secular statues to be erected in Dublin. Charles Brooking’s vignette of 1728 depicted the finished building. But by the time of Malton’s painting in 1793, the elaborate upper structure had been removed. Incorporated in the rebuilt Tholsel was the Exchange, which had previously been housed in the grounds of Cork House, on Cork Hill. Now, the arcaded ground floors served as a venue for mercantile transactions, while the council room on the upper floor was the meeting place for the guild of merchants, as well as the civic assembly. The recorded court and the assembly continue to be held there and the building was also used as a place of civic entertainment on occasions such as the king’s birthday.
The second building is the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham. And here we have an extract from the painting of Thomas Bate, which we looked at at the beginning. The Duke of Ormonde promoted very strongly the construction of a hospital for veteran and wounded troops outside Dublin in the early 1680s. As we’ve seen, a previously planned institution failed in the early 17th century and concerns had persisted about old soldiers of the army in Ireland becoming a burden on the towns, in this case Dublin. At a site Kilmainham, to the west of Dublin, part of the then Phoenix Park, there was chosen the place for the erection of the Royal Hospital, to the design of the surveyor general William Robinson. It was built over four years at a cost of 24,000 pounds raised from state grants for infirm soldiers as well as a levy on serving soldiers’ pay and was first occupied in 1684. The hospital had accommodation for up to 400 army pensioners on three floors of the quadrangular building, and incorporated an infirmary for thirty inmates, a chapel and tower being added later. It was by far the largest public edifice erected down to that time in Ireland and was described as a “noble building that looks like a pallace”. Ormonde was so proud of the hospital which bears his coat of arms over the main entrance that he resided in the master’s lodging there for a time, while Dublin Castle was being rebuilt. We have a later drawing from Charles Brooking’s map of 1728, complete with tower and spire. By addressing a perennial social problem, state philanthropy benefitted the citizens and presented them with a magnificent addition to the modest stock of late medieval public buildings, at a safe distance from the urban core.
The third building of this early phase of public construction is the new St Andrew’s Church built near Hoggen Green, between 1670 and 1674, to replace the former church of that dedication near Dublin Castle. Although commonly called the Round Church, it was in fact oval in the design of William Dodson, the architect. It became the parish church for the developing suburb between the old city and Trinity College. Recent research has established that the church of S. Andrea in Quirinale, designed by Bernini, is the probable inspiration for Dublin’s St Andrew’s. The unusual shape being perhaps less surprising than the passage from the main door to altar being along the shorter axle axis of the oval. So this configuration which was highly unusual may have reflected the devotion of predilections of the minister at the time. But in any case, it certainly is a new type of architecture, a new kind of influence being brought to bear on the buildings of Dublin. It’s depicted on de Gomme’s map as an oval and then Place drew the building in 1699.
What marks this ensemble of buildings apart from their late medieval predecessors, was their specialised functioning, at least in the case of the Tholsel and Hospital, and their self-regard. The Tholsel brought together the Town Hall and Exchange. While the Hospital catered for a designated category of the deserving. All three response to contemporary administrative, charitable and liturgical needs. In terms of their styles, the buildings displayed an eclectic range of external influences. The Tholsel with its elaborations of lantern, clock, statutory and pretentious classicism could be called English urban renaissance. The Hospital was redolent of the French influences imbibed by the Duke of Ormonde during his Parisian sojourn and St Andrew’s unexpectedly summoned up, Counter-Reformation Rome. Whatever about this melange, the buildings were designed to remind their respective admirers of the centrality of municipal and mercantile authority within the community, the munificence of the state and the cultivated solidity of established Anglican authority. The location of each was telling. The Tholsel claimed the old urban core. The Hospital reflected outreach to the west, in the pure environs of Phoenix Park. And St Andrew’s gave a focus to the eastern extension of the city between town and gown.
The decision of Dublin City Council to rebuild the Tholsel on its existing site, was indicative of its commitment to the old urban centre in front of Christchurch Cathedral. Yet other initiatives were undertaken by the Assembly in the late 17th century, which demonstrate a less sentimental attitude towards the civic heritage. The late medieval defensive features of Dublin, walls, mural towers and gates were gradually being dismantled from the late 17th century onwards. So that by 1756, most had disappeared. Their demolition was mainly due to their ruinous and dangerous condition. But there was also a major concern for the facilitating of traffic throughout the extending urbanised area. Responses to issues of public safety and health also had implications for civic spaces and buildings. The use of thatch for the roofing of buildings within the city was forbidden, and building in stone and brick increasingly replaced that in timber. Problems of hygiene compounded by those of traffic, were addressed by civic regulations governing markets and street trading in 1683. A key element of municipal policy in this respect was for markets, including fish and cattle, to be removed to purpose built facilities in Smithfield and also in the new Ormonde market in Oxmantown. Perhaps the most significant landmark in municipal planning, was the enclosing by the city Assembly of the medieval commons of St Stephen’s Green and Oxmantown Green for residential development on lots drawn for by individual investors.
When the removal of the cistern at the heart of the old city, which was described as being dry for a long time past, was urged in 1657, it was because of the very great encumbrance and annoyance on to the city coaches and carts. By contrast, when a new basin was built near St James’ Gate in 1724, it became the “pleasantest and most elegant and sequestered place of relaxation the citizens can boast of” according to Walter Harris. So a very utilitarian structure became a source of recreation for the citizens. Utility and recreation were served on the urban periphery, reflecting the corporations operating now on a more extensive scale in respect of some of its administrative adventures. One of the most ambitious projects of all was for the North and South Lotts, which were to be reclaimed as part of the construction of the new walls banking the Liffey to the east of the city. To the west, a number of civic institutions were installed, including a new Bridewell or House of Corrections, along with the City Poor House and a Foundling Hospital built in Mount Brown, to replace the old institution of Oxmantown Green. In that latter area, the King’s Hospital or Bluecoat School, had been erected in 1671 as a free school for boys and an alms house for unprivileged, with the benefaction of the citizens and others. When it came to appointing a residence for the Lord Mayors of Dublin, in the early 18th century, a plan to locate a Mansion House on Lazars Hill to the east of the city came to nothing, and instead a house, recently built by Joshua Dawson on his fashionable new street was acquired for the purpose. And I think it was a very good choice in the circumstances, I’m sure the Lord Mayor would aver to that.
Dublin’s status as a major port and trading centre brought combinations of civic, mercantile and governmental interests together in enterprises, to facilitate commerce and communication from the late 17th century. We’ve already noted the building of four new bridges within a decade and a half, from 1670. Essex Bridge was rebuilt by the Civic Council in 1753 on a model drawn from London’s Westminster Bridge. And it was the hub of the mid 18th century city. In conjunction with these crossings, the North and South Quays were constructed. While the quaying of the Liffey banks, carried out in a patchwork fashion by private and municipal agencies did not solve the immediate problems of communication between the old walled enclave and the developing extra-mural areas, in the short term, the river came to be completely banked and warped from east to west and also came to be fronted by fashionable housing. And this turning towards the river was crucial in the evolution of an architecturally coherent spine for the burgeoning of Dublin’s North and South sides.
Eastwards, the port of Dublin was substantially improved by the work of a state approved municipal agency, the Ballast Office from 1707 onwards. Their projects included the construction of a Great South Wall and Lighthouse to improve navigation in the channels of the Liffey. And on the north bank, the completion of a quay wall west of Bachelor’s Walk. In 1717, the city acting through the Ballast Office planned in a grandiose scheme to layout the partially reclaimed area behind it in 132 plots, which became known as the North Lotts. Although little building took place on what was the North Strand, ground for future development had been laid out and the north bank of the Liffey had been quayed almost continuously from Bloody Bridge in the west, to East Wall Road in the east. The only major lacuna to be filled was at Eden Quay and that was constructed in conjunction with the building of the new Custom House in the 1780s and 90s.
That Custom House was eventually erected after prolonged and bitter debate about its sighting in the later decades of the 18th century. Down to that time, the Custom House of Dublin was situated at Custom House Quay, just to the east of Essex Bridge and at the heart of a complex of agencies, offices and shops. This location had in itself been a compromise between those merchants who were attracted to the old commercial heart of Dublin, up river, and those entrepreneurs who sought new opportunities and development down river. Just as another building I think affected a démarche between mercantile and aristocratic interests, and I’ll mention it even though it’s outside our period, the Royal Exchange, completed in 1779, at the top of the new Parliament Street, which joined the administrative core with Capel Street and the northern suburban estates across Essex Bridge. Of course, it’s now the City Hall. But the building had two magnificent facades, one facing towards the old city, to please the more conservative elements and the other facing north towards the new, to embrace the developing mentality of civic improvement.
Several old guild halls made way for new traders’ premises, including those of the tailors, shoemakers, carpenters and weavers, as well as the new exchanges or halls for produce, including the Cornmarket House, in Thomas Street and the Linen Hall in North King Street. The location of the Weaver’s Hall in the Coombe was significant, as it was there that the industrial quarter of Dublin grew up under the auspices of the Brabazon family, Earls of Meath. A large community of cloth workers settled there, including groups of migrants such as French Huguenots, who had been encouraged to come by the state and liberty authorities. Not only did they place their stamp on the toponymy of the district, with names such as Weaver’s Square and later ‘the tenterfields’, denoting their trade. But they also fostered a distinctive architectural style of housing, sometimes referred to ‘Dutch billies’, mainly brick built residences featuring stepped or curvilinear gables.
The charitable institutions of early modern Dublin, unlike the late medieval ones, were more specialised in their functions. The dispensation of welfare and relief being more discriminating and targeted at specific cases of neediness. The Royal Hospital at Kilmainham set a headline in this respect as an initiative for superannuated soldiers on the part of the state. Municipal impulses towards the relief of poverty and sickness were focused on the Bluecoat School, or King’s Hospital which served as a free school for poor boys, and also on the City Poor House or Workhouse, designed as we’ve seen a vignette of it, designed by Thomas Burgh, established in Mount Brown for the confinement of idle beggars who were to be set to work, principally on linen making. Eventually this complex of buildings came to include a Bedlam and a Foundling Hospital as well as an Infirmary. The early 18th century also witnessed the building of hospitals through private philanthropy. Doctor Steeven’s Hospital was erected by 1733 in a westerly neighbourhood which Edward McParland has called “the hospital quarter of Dublin” as there was also there a military infirmary and later also built in that area was St Patrick’s Hospital. In the fashionable North Eastern Gardiner suburbs, Dr Bartholomew Moss’s Lying-In Hospital, dedicated to the maternity care of women was erected at the top of Sackville Mall, by the 1750s.
Attached to the Lying-In Hospital and the Rotunda, were gardens specifically laid out for the holding of charitable fundraising events. These gardens, which were compared very favourably with those at Vauxhall in London, were extremely popular with the beau monde, providing elegant walkways and places for musical performances for display and enjoyment. The vogue for charity concerts and benefits in the 18th century at venues such as The Music Hall in Fishamble Street, organised and supported by members of the aristocracy was highly important in raising funds for philanthropic institutions. Gardens and green spaces were also important in the evolution of leisured recreation in early modern Dublin. Reference has already been made to the Basin as a place where citizens disported themselves. And Phoenix Park became the city’s playground. As we can see from this painting by Joseph Tudor, dated 1753. And there were also exclusive walks in the upmarket Gardiner’s or Sackville Mall, which we’ve mentioned already and in Stephen’s Green, which became a place of recreation and great display. And as a visitor said of it at the time “the quality of both sexes makes a gay appearance”.
Among the sporting venues that were appointed in early modern Dublin, were several bowling greens, including Marlborough Bowling Green, which was used for upper class socialising. Café culture flourished in the early 18th century city in the form of the many coffee houses. The two building from the period which symbolised the intellectual aspirations of the community are the Library Building in Trinity College and Marsh’s Library which unfortunately I don’t have a slide of, but you’ll be familiar with it.
Now turning in conclusion to the way in which the spatial disposition of the buildings of Dublin came to demarcate the new cultural and political realities of the early modern city, we remind ourselves of the dominance of the established church buildings on the city’s skyline as painted by Bate in 1699. In the older areas of the city, some of the churches were rebuilt on a new or existing site and some acquired new towers. Perhaps the most impressive makeover was that of St Werburgh’s. Though, it’s burdened here with a very extravagant tower which never came to fruition and indeed Archbishop King lamented the fact that so many churches in Dublin had now towers or spires, and he likened them to cows without horns.
In the new suburban estates to the north and south of the Liffey, topographical coherence and identity was conferred with the emergence of new parochial units. Brooking’s map shows the parish boundaries of Dublin. Now I’ve only included here the southern part. His orientation is from north to south unusually. So we can see in this depiction, for example, the new parish of St Mark’s and St Mark’s Church. The new parish of St Ann’s with St Ann’s Church and over here then we have St Luke’s parish with St Luke’s Church, as well as some of the older parishes like St Nicholas Within, St Werburgh’s, St Audoen’s and so on. And on the north side were we to get a glimpse of it, we’d see that areas such as Jervis’s suburb, organised themselves around the church of St Mary’s, and there was also then the new church of St Paul’s to the west, in the Oxmantown, Smithfield area and later then St George’s and St Thomas’s Church. Many of these new churches reflected the self-confident aspirations of the city’s gentry and professional classes in the ecclesiastical sphere. By contrast, the dozens of centres of worship for non established religions, including Roman Catholics, Presbyterians, Quakers and French Congregations throughout the city and suburbs, do not figure on Brooking, though Rocque maps them very fully. There is in fact a drawing of one of these, the Lutheran church in Poolbeg Street, which is dated 1820.
Morphologically, the scene was set of Dublin’s east-west social gradient as Edel Sheridan has termed it, to architectural projects with defensive, charitable, correctional and industrial functions on the city’s westward or landward side, which never attained the fashionability of the seaward or eastward side, in the 18th century. And here we have the famous map of John Rocque, which has been put together in the atlas, the recently published atlas, the four sheets into one which is very valuable. And some of the features of this east-west social gradient can be seen from this. Besides the Bluecoat School in Oxmantown, we now have the Royal Barracks on the north bank of the Liffey. And it was a major new acquisition in terms of both architecture and functionality, during the early 18th century. So it matched, we can’t see it here, it’s just a bit to the west, the Royal Hospital on the southern side. So both of these important military institutions were located well to the west of the city, the old city as it had been. Taken together, these institutions forms an arc on the western periphery, benefitting by the freshness of the prevailing winds, but also serving perhaps as a detriment to the western expansion of the capital in the 18th century. Moving towards the city, we can see the Tholsel in the heart of the old walled area, what was walled and now the walls of course have been removed. And the Tholsel claimed centrality in this old urban core. By contrast, the refurbished and civilianised castle was, had emphasised its courtly and palatial functions, but it was very much centred at the new crossing point of the city, as it were, the new hub of the city, just at the top of Parliament Street and facing towards Essex Bridge and the new northern suburbs. The Barracks just mentioned there, again a vignette from Charles Brooking’s map and Tudor’s depiction of the refurbished Dublin Castle, 1753. And adumbrating the relentless movement eastwards of the urban centre of gravity, the magnificent Parliament House provided a focus for the routes joining the fashionable new suburbs to the north-west, to the north-east rather, and the south-east.
Thus comparing our artists’ perspectives on the city, from the west in 1699 and 1753, we can see I think in this later view, that the burgeoned hinterland of Dublin remains unspoiled as the Liffey meanders through it. The Royal Barracks now counterparts the Royal Hospitals, so that’s new definitely since 1699, at least rather it’s come to take its place in these environs very much, betokening the development of the left bank of the Liffey. Although the city in the distance is enveloped in a haze, we get the impression that the skyline in this later depiction is punctuated by many more structures, towers, spires and cupola. And the city’s rural smock has contracted as there is an impression from Tudor of creeping suburbanisation reaching out into the countryside, especially on the south side towards Kilmainham. In the fifty odd years that separate the two paintings that we have looked at, Dublin was sloughing off its rural bound provincial appearance and donning that of a metropolitan centre. And I think the nature and locations of its building reflects this very well. Thank you very much. (Applause)
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