City Hall 12 Murals
The twelve paintings in the Rotunda of Dublin’s City Hall represent scenes from the early history of Dublin, from the Druidical Age to the coronation of Lambert Simnel in 1487 AD.
The Murals in City Hall
Although the paintings have always been described as frescoes, they are in fact murals, as they are painted onto dry stone in the panels between the Rotunda’s columns and under the cornice of the cupola.
Each panel measures a little over eight feet by four feet. Historical and legendary scenes occupy eight of these panels and the remaining four contain the heraldic arms of the four provinces of Ireland. The central shield of each coat of arms is supported on either side by fanciful Celtic animals and surrounded by interlaced designs, inspired by the Book of Kells. The murals are striking examples of the arts and crafts movement in Dublin.
James Ward (1851-1942)
James Ward was headmaster of the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art (today the National College of Art and Design) from 1907-1918. He was an important figure in the Irish and British art scene of the late 19th and early 20th century. In 1913, he approached Dublin City Council with an offer to decorate the plain panels under the dome of City Hall – an original feature of the building as designed by Thomas Cooley in 1769.
The Royal Institute of Architects of Ireland advised Dublin City Council to accept Ward’s offer and work began on the murals in 1914. The project was completed by 1919 and to show its appreciation of Ward’s services, Dublin City Council voted him a grant of £350. The murals were restored for Dublin Corporation by Matthew Moss in 1968.