Dublin Civic Trust - Tel: 353 1 874 9681
Address: 18 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7, Ireland Click here for map



Thomas Street, Dublin 8
Improving the Public Face of an Historic City Centre Street

This exhibition focused on one of Dublin’s most historic thoroughfares – Thomas Street.

It followed from a report that the Trust published in 2012 outlining the historical, cultural, economic and social importance of Thomas Street to the Liberties and what can be done to preserve and enhance these attributes through considered attention and enlightened intervention.

The exhibition explored the history of the street, its architecture, building types and materials - business, cultural and social life - infrastructure and the public realm. It highlighted challenges and opportunities, and put forward a vision for the regeneration of strategic sites on the street, such as the former Frawley’s terrace which contains a number of important historic houses, and hidden, formerly gable-fronted ‘Dutch Billy’ houses near The Digital Hub.  

Dublin Civic Trust has maintained a strong interest in Thomas Street since the establishment of the Trust in 1992. In 2001, it compiled and published Thomas Street: A Study of the Past - A Vision for the Future, vividly documenting the built heritage of the street and proposing practical solutions to the issues faced by the property owners and occupiers. The publication continues to be a valuable source of historical information for Thomas Street and is intended to be read in conjunction with this study. The book also forms part of a series of street studies undertaken by the Trust, which includes a study of adjoining Francis Street and Meath Street, published in 2008.

In 2008, Dublin Civic Trust compiled and prepared the written statement and supplementary inventory for the Thomas Street and Environs Architectural Conservation Area (ACA), which was adopted by Dublin City Council in 2009. 

This exhibition complemented the 2012 study, providing an analysis of the street in its current condition and articulates a vision for the renewal of its historic fabric and the protection of its unique charm and character. The stimulus for the study is the increasing recognition of the importance of the street to the vitality of The Liberties and to a greater appreciation of the historic core of the city. 

Admission Free

Running: January – June 2015
Opening Times: Monday – Friday, 10am – 6pm

Read the full Thomas Street study online here


June - December 2014

Mick Brown's Dublin

Our new exhibition for summer 2014, Mick Brown’s Dublin, Portrait of a City, covers in words, pictures and in colour, a vanished world, the end of an era in Dublin’s long and winding history.

Here in his photographs, we see just how neglected and unloved the inner city had become in the 1960s and 70s. We also see Dubliners going about their business with their long held fortitude and resilience, not to mention a smile or two. In markets and streets long gone, the last of Joyce’s Dublin is shown as it was; rich in character, humour and spirit. These images are evidence of Dublin and indeed Ireland during a time when no one could ever have imagined how great the changes could or would be. Most of the photographs were taken in the Liberties, but the North side too is covered in those days before the blitz of redevelopment, with its deliberate disregard for heritage and history.

Elegant bridges, businesses large and small, people and street life are all captured here. Colourful, sad, funny, intriguing, they record life around the city in quieter, simpler times. The photographs record the end of an extraordinary era in Dublin’s rich social and cultural history. They show people at work, on the streets, and at leisure in places which have since been demolished and rebuilt on a scale that dwarfs the former locations. Mick recalls his childhood spent in and around the Coombe and the Guinness Brewery area with its trains, canal barges and horse and cart transport. School life, the Iveagh Market, pawn shops, local history and tenement life are all covered in Mick’s first-hand account of his experiences in the 1950s and 60s. Throughout this exhibition, his affection for the people and places is clear in the photographs he took while still a teenager.

From bicycle messenger boy to bus driver, to an Arctic and Antarctic guide, Mick recounts life in that period of Dublin’s development with humour and fondness, but without a wish to return to any nostalgic or imaginary sense of the past. From a thirteen year old bicycle messenger boy in the 1960s, to an Arctic and Antarctic guide and wildlife specialist, Mick Brown’s passion for Dublin and its people remains intense and enduring. A native of the Coombe, Dublin, he began photographing its street life at the age of fifteen with a box camera. Moving to London aged seventeen, and to Wales at nineteen, he returned home regularly and caught on camera the end of an extraordinary era in Dublin’s social and cultural life. This selection of his photographs dates from between 1966 and the late 1970s.

Forged in the Liberties, he now returns to Dublin regularly and enjoys the new city life, but always running parallel are his memories of life lived ʻin the realʼ in the days before Rock and Roll.

Mick's richly illustrated new book: The Past has a Great Future, is available to purchase from the Dublin Civic Trust bookshop, priced €16.00.

Exhibition open Monday - Friday, 10.00am - 5.30pm


Designing Georgian Britain & The Irish Connection

Wednesday 4th June 2014 
George's Hall, Dublin Castle

Julius Bryant
Keeper of Word and Image,
Victoria & Albert Museum, London

DISCOVER the versatility and artistic inventiveness of William Kent, the most prominent architect and designer in early Georgian Britain, in this lecture delivered one of the most respected art historical experts in the United Kingdom.

WILLIAM KENT (1685-1748) was the leading architect and designer of early Georgian Britain. A polymath, he turned his hand from painting to designing sculpture, architecture, interior decoration, furniture, metalwork, book illustration, theatrical design, costume and landscape gardens. His life coincided with a major turning point in British history - the accession of the new Hanoverian Royal Family in 1714. A new exhibition, curated by Julius Bryant, currently showing in London's Victoria & Albert Museum, reveals how William Kent came to play a leading role in establishing a new design aesthetic for this crucial period when Britain defined itself as a new nation. Kent also helped stimulate a new era of design in Ireland by influencing architects working on notable Irish buildings, including Isaac Ware at Leinster House and James Stuart at Rathfarnham Castle.

Learn about the background and life's work of this extraordinary man in this stimulating evening lecture brought to you by
Dublin Civic Trust and the Office of Public Works.


To reserve a place at the event, please email info@dublincivictrust.ie with your name or telephone (01) 475 6911.

Julius Bryant

Julius Bryant, FSA, is Keeper of Word & Image at the Victoria & Albert Museum, with responsibility for paintings, prints, drawings, designs, architecture, miniatures, watercolours, photographs, The National Art Library, the Archive of Art & Design and for liaison over the Royal Institute of British Architects’ collection of architectural drawings at the V&A. Between 1990 and 2005 he was Director of Museums and Collections and Chief Curator at English Heritage (based at the Iveagh Bequest, Kenwood) where he specialised in the restoration, redisplay and reinterpretation of historic houses open to the public, such as Kenwood, Chiswick House, Marble Hill, Ranger’s House, Osborne, Brodsworth Hall, Darwin’s Down House, Eltham Palace and Apsley House. He has served as the V&A’s lead curator for two exhibitions co-curated with Dr Susan Weber in collaboration with the Bard Graduate Center, New York: JamesAthenian’ Stuart (2006-7) and William Kent (2013-14). His publications include Kenwood: Paintings in the Iveagh Bequest (Yale, 2003), Art and Design for All: the Victoria & Albert Museum (ed., Bonn, 2011) and Caro: Close Up (Yale, 2012).


Reassessing Architectural Conservation Areas Conference

Conserving Heritage, Managing Change, Promoting Investment



Dublin Civic Trust is pleased to announce details of a one-day conference assessing the role of Architectural Conservation Areas since their introduction under the Planning & Development Act, 2000.

Placing a special emphasis on historic urban landscapes, this timely symposium will address how the ACA instrument has performed in Ireland to date, and how it may serve as a framework for best practice building and landscape conservation, urban design, property management and district enhancement. Appropriately, it will be hosted in the gracious environment of George's Hall, Dublin Castle, at heart of Dublin's historic centre.

View the programme below or download here

Conference Subject

AREA-BASED built landscape conservation has been a planning tool of many European countries since the mid 20th century, recognised as a means of protecting areas of distinctive heritage value. From urban to rural, conservation areas are used to preserve the character of places as diverse as formal neoclassical streetscapes, market squares to isolated religious settlements. Designed to encompass more than individual buildings and structures, conservation areas typically aim to consolidate the character of what makes a place distinctive, by protecting elements such as public realm, planting, traditional settlement patterns and building materials, and by controlling the nature of new development.

The United Kingdom first officially introduced the instrument of Conservation Area under the Civic Amenities Act 1967, while in Ireland, Architectural Conservation Areas (ACAs) were first recognised as a legally binding instrument under the Planning and Development Act, 2000. An ACA is defined as "a place, area, group of structures or townscape that is of special architectural, historical, archaeological, artistic, cultural, scientific, social or technical interest or contributes to the appreciation of protected structures."

Under the Planning and Development Act, a planning authority must include an objective in its Development Plan to designate ACAs if it is of the opinion that their inclusion is necessary for the preservation of the character of specific areas.

Taking Stock of ACAs - The Issues 

Since their inclusion in the 2000 Act, ACAs have been adopted by most Irish planning authorities and are administered by their planning departments and conservation/heritage offices. To date, the relative success of ACAs has yet to be fully quantified, in terms of public awareness of designation, protection of heritage, tangible enhancement of places, encouragement of design excellence in new development, and related socio-economic impacts.

Their roll-out has been somewhat inconsistent across the country, with some local authority areas such as Cork featuring dozens of ACAs, but major urban areas such as Dublin city hosting only 7 ACAs within its canal ring and a further 7 beyond. The approach to ACA policy drafting also varies considerably, from in-depth character analysis in some cases, to little more than ‘red line’ boundary exercises with brief attendant descriptions in others.

Similarly, the active operation of ACAs has yet to be reviewed in the context of translating written descriptions and character appraisals into active development control, planning enforcement, enhancement initiatives and forward planning schemes. At a time of constrained public resources, the involved management of ACAs is often considered burdensome by local authorities, while in many cases their designation is perceived as overly restrictive of development and a hindrance to investment. By contrast, they are often welcomed by residents groups as a means of protecting and enhancing the character and property values of residential areas.

Objective of the Conference

The aim of this event is to highlight the purpose of ACA designation as originally designed under the 2000 Act, to assess how it has performed to date, and to learn from international best practice in the implementation and management of similar area-based conservation initiatives.

The conference seeks to dispel the widespread perception of ACA as a barrier to development, instead redefining it as a tool for the active management of heritage places that sustains and fosters their character as a distinctive attribute that attracts investment.

The programme of national and international expert speakers will articulate the need to use ACAs as a means to guide high quality new development through attendant management and framework policies. This includes the conservation of period buildings to best practice standards, the design of new buildings and structures, the preservation of landscape and planting, and the treatment of the public realm.

The economics of area-based conservation will also be highlighted and the generally positive effects on property values recorded in various studies. Exercising the 2000 Act from a legal perspective will examine its effectiveness as an enforcement tool, while regular opportunities for discussion and questioning will facilitate an exchange of expertise amongst attendees and speakers.

This is a must-attend event for design, planning, conservation and property-related professionals, students of these disciplines, and members of the public with an interest in the built environment.


The conference takes place in the elegant surroundings of the newly refurbished George's Hall, located in the Upper Yard of Dublin Castle. Constructed as a Supper Room for the royal visit of King George V and Queen Mary to Ireland in 1911, the hall comprises part of the rich layers of tapestry of the Castle complex that are expertly managed by the Office of Public Works. It is this ethos of preserving built heritage and engaging dynamic new uses that Dublin Civic Trust wishes to impart as part of this ACA conference.

Right: Bedford Tower, Upper Yard, Dublin Castle, 1761



Conor Skehan, Lecturer, School of Spatial Planning, Dublin Institute of Technology

Nigel Walsh, Solicitor

James Kelly, Conservation Architect and Chairman, Dublin Civic Trust

08.45 - 09.15       Registration

09.15                     Doors close (sharp)

09.15                     Welcome & Introduction
                               Geraldine Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, Dublin Civic Trust

09.25                     Opening Address 
                               Robin Mandal, President, Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

09.35                     Conservation Areas and the Identity of Place                             
Dr Michael Short, Senior Lecturer in Planning and Urban Conservation,
                               University of the West of England

10.00                     ACAs and the 2000 Act                               
                               Colm Murray, Architecture Officer, The Heritage Council

                ACA as a Planning and Design Instrument
                                Philip Geoghegan, Architect, iCON Architecture | Urban Design | Conservation 

10.50                     Discussion

11.00                     Tea/Coffee Break

11.30                     The Legal Framework - Enforcing the 2000 Act 
                               Tiernan Lowey, Barrister-at-Law

11.50                     Conserving and Enhancing Dublin's Historic Landscapes 
                               Nicki Matthews, Conservation Officer and Conservation Architect, Dublin City Council

12.15                     Developing Custodianship on the Ground - Fingal's Experience                               
                               Helena Bergin, Conservation Officer, Fingal County Council

12.35                     Mountjoy Square ACA - A Catalyst for Regeneration?
                               Garrett Fennell, Chairman, Mountjoy Square Society  

12.50                     Discussion

13.50                     Lunch

14.00                     ACA as an Urban Design Tool
                               Alan Mee, Architect and Lecturer, School of Architecture, University College Dublin

14.25                     On the Ground in the UK - Managing Historic Areas
                               Graham Bell, Director North of England Civic Trust

14.50                     The Economics of Conservation Areas
                                Dr Gabriel Ahlfeldt, Associate Professor of Urban Economics and Land Development,
                                London School of Economics

15.15                     Panel Discussion - Questions and Answers
                               Chaired by James Kelly, Chairman, Dublin Civic Trust

15.30                     Close

Download programme


The conference day includes lunch on location mid-way through the programme, and tea, coffee and light refreshments during the morning session.  

How to Book

To book a place on the conference, please follow the booking link below. Two ticket types are available:

ADMIT ONE - €50: This is the standard admission ticket to the conference.

ADMIT ONE + CPD CERTIFICATE - €65: This ticket provides admission plus a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) certificate of attendance at the event, of relevance to professionals including architects, surveyors, planners, engineers and other relevant disciplines. The event will amount to 6 structured CPD points. Please note that due to administrative costs, CPD certificates will not be issued to attendees who opt for the standard admission option.


Main Cork Hill Entrance

Approaching from Dame Street, attendees may enter Dublin Castle through the Cork Hill/Castle Street pedestrian gate beside the main double gates. Upon entering the Upper Yard, the conference venue entrance is located to your diagonal right at the far side of the courtyard. 

Palace Street Pedestrian Entrance

Upon entering the Lower Yard from Palace Street, proceed up the steep hill to the Upper Yard and pass under the central arch into the Upper Yard. The conference venue is located in the far left-hand corner of the courtyard.


Please note there is no car parking on location. Hourly and daily rate pay parking is available in Jurys Christchurch hotel on adjacent Werburgh Street.


Forging The City - Dublin's Historic Domestic Ironwork

November 2013 - January 2014

This exhibition showcased the wealth of craftsmanship and original fabric that graces Dublin's streets and squares in its decorative ironwork from the period 1660 - 1900.


Maximising the city's Georgian heritage 

Friday 13th September 2013 

Dublin Civic Trust is delighted to announce a major one-day conference assessing the role and significance, past, present and future, of the historic squares of Dublin. 

Placing a special emphasis on the north Georgian area of the city in collaboration with The Mountjoy Square Society, this major one-day symposium will be hosted in the magnificent environment of the former ballroom of the Assembly Rooms of the Rotunda Hospital on Parnell Square, once the focus of social life in eighteenth-century Dublin.  

Follow the link to reserve your place today > > > 

View the programme below or download here

Event generously supported by Dublin City Council's:

Parks & Landscape Service and Central Area Office

Conference Theme

DUBLIN’S five major historic squares are emblematic of the city’s internationally renowned eighteenth-century heritage, synonymous with Enlightenment principles of urban planning, ordered street architecture and classically inspired park and garden design. The square has ancient roots in Greek and Roman civilisations, and later in the Renaissance civic planning of continental Europe, however it is the local, vernacular interpretation of the urban square in the Dublin context, and the social and economic dynamics that forged it, that lend these surviving built and natural landscapes a unique interest in the modern world.       

Speakers and Topics

This major conference will feature a host of expert national and international speakers highlighting the architectural, cultural, social and economic significance of the five major historic squares of Dublin and their hinterlands. It will showcase their historic evolution through estate planning and management, building speculation and development, public landscape design, and the various international influences that helped shape the now familiar landscape of the city.

It is also recognised that the role of the squares in Dublin is much greater than as an isolated cultural asset, as they also serve as a key social and economic resource for the city at a time of growing environmental awareness and international competition between major urban centres. Much discussion and academic research in recent decades has rightly centred on the historic evolution of the squares, but much less so on their modern-day role as hubs of living, working, leisure and community life.

For the first time in a public forum, this conference aims to stimulate public discussion about the conservation of the built and natural environments of Dublin’s squares through exploring new uses for buildings, reinventing the public realm and promoting new perspectives on the role and design of their public gardens and parks.

It also seeks to explore how the economic and social vitality of the city can be enhanced through changing perceptions about the squares and their attendant streets, reshaping predominately commercial uses on the south side and widespread inadequate residential standards on the north side, into world-class community and commercial centres that innovatively embrace this unique heritage asset. 

Left: Mountyjoy Square Park

Conference speakers will assess international best practice of managing streetscape, presenting historic planted landscapes, and financing building and landscape conservation through public and private funding and incentivisation. Please find programme details below.


The conference takes place in the magnificent surroundings of the Pillar Room, the ballroom of the former Assembly Rooms of the Rotunda Hospital on Dublin's Parnell Square. Begun in 1784 to the designs of architect Richard Johnston, the New Assembly Rooms is one of the forgotten civic complexes of Georgian Dublin - a largely intact, architecturally significant series of public entertaining rooms that originally addressed the Rotunda Pleasure Gardens.

The rooms complemented the earlier round room or Rotunda erected by John Ensor in 1764, but shared a similar purpose of raising revenue for the hospital, playing host to balls, musical events and fashionable society gatherings. The New Assembly Rooms featured a ballroom to the ground floor opening onto the gardens (The Pillar Room), a grand supper room on the first floor (now the auditorium of The Gate Theatre), and a Tea Room at ground floor level (part of which has been subsumed into the entrance of The Gate).

Our choice of location reflects the need to refocus public policy towards the latent resources of the city, in this case the unique heritage asset of Parnell Square with its combination of former public buildings, pleasure grounds and spectacular collection of mid-Georgian town houses. We hope the conference and its venue will reshape perceptions about the value of the North Georgian Core of Dublin and showcase its potential to the wider public.

Left: Stuccowork of The Pillar Room


The conference day includes lunch mid-way through the programme, and tea, coffee and light refreshments in the morning and afternoon.  

Access to The Pillar Room is gained via the blue pedestrian gate on Parnell Square East, located immediately adjacent to the new extension to The Gate Theatre. Please note there is no parking available on-site and we encourage all attendees to use public transport where possible. The nearest multi-storey car parks are located a five-minute walk away on Parnell Street and Q Park on Marlborough Street.

How to Book

To book a place on the conference, please follow the booking link below. Two ticket types are available:

ADMIT ONE - €65: This is the standard admission ticket to the conference.

ADMIT ONE PLUS CPD CERTIFICATE - €80: This ticket provides admission plus a Continuous Professional Development (CPD) certificate of attendance at the event, of relevance to professionals including architects, surveyors, planners, engineers and other relevant disciplines. The event will amount to 6 structured CPD points. Please note that due to administrative costs, CPD certificates will not be issued to attendees who opt for the standard admission option.



Session Chairs

Elizabeth Morgan, Landscape Conservation Architect, Office of Public Works

Ciarán O’Connor. State Architect, Office of Public Works

Ali Grehan, City Architect, Dublin City Council

Aidan Pender, Director of Strategic Development, Fáilte Ireland


08.30 - 09.10       Registration

09.10                     Doors close (sharp)

09.10                     Welcome & Introduction
                               Geraldine Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, Dublin Civic Trust

09.20                     Opening Address 
                               Phil Hogan T.D., Minister for Environment, Community & Local Government

09.30                     Changing the Rules: The Social Construction of the European City Square, 1500 - 1900
                               Dr. Desmond McCabe, Historian & Author

10.00                     Grand Ambitions - Development of the Gardiner Estate 
                               Merlo Kelly, Architect & Conservation Consultant

10.25                     The Square in the Town Plan 
                                Dr. Todd Longstaffe-Gowan, Landscape Architect & Historian

10.50                     Discussion

11.00                     Tea/Coffee Break

11.30                     The Design and Redesign of Urban Squares – A Scottish Perspective 
                               Christopher Dingwall, Landscape Historian & Heritage Consultant, Scotland

11.55                     Dublin’s Forgotten Pleasure Grounds - Parnell Square 
                               James Kelly, Conservation Architect & Chairman, Dublin Civic Trust

12.15                     Can the Past Serve the Present? Artists as a Source for Examining Dublin's Squares 
                               Adrian Le Harivel, Senior Curator, National Gallery of Ireland

12.40                     Discussion

12.50                     Lunch

13.50                     An Outsider’s Perspective - Appraising Dublin’s Squares 
                               Chris Sumner, Chair of Planning & Conservation, London Parks & Gardens Trust

14.10                     Challenges and Opportunities - The Squares as an Urban Resource
                                Nicki Matthews, Conservation Officer & Conservation Architect, Dublin City Council

14.30                     Maximising the North Georgian Core 
                                Karin O’Flanagan, Mountjoy Square Society and Resident

14.50                     The Future of the South Georgian Core 
                                Paul Kearns, Senior Planner, Dublin City Council

15.10                     A Strategy for Dublin City Parks and Garden Squares 
                                Leslie Moore, City Parks Superintendent, Dublin City Council

15.30                     Discussion

15.40                     Tea/Coffee Break

16.00                      Financing Regeneration - The Economic Case for Renewal 
                                Garrett Fennell, Mountjoy Square Society                   

16.20                      The Campaign for London's Squares - A Tale of Two Funders 
                                Drew Bennelick, Head of Landscape & Natural Heritage, Heritage Lottery Fund

16.40                      The Lanes and Approaching Streets of Mountjoy Square: A Contemporary View 
                                Mary Laheen, Architect and Lecturer, School of Architecture and Landscape, UCD

17.00                      Debate & Discussion 
                                Chaired by Aidan Pender, Director of Strategic Development, Fáilte Ireland

17.15                      Concluding Address 

                                Frank McDonald, Author, Journalist and Environment Editor of The Irish Times 

Download Programme



21st Century Liffey: A Boulevard of Rooms + Corridors

June - September 2013

This stimulating new exhibition by David Jordan and Fergus Browne is the follow up to 2012’s well-received Connector + Divider exhibition and represents the urban design vision stage to their project.

Following its successful launch at darc space gallery by Lord Mayor of Dublin, Naoise Ó Muirí in May, the exhibition will be on display at Dublin Civic Trust, 4 Castle Street, Dublin 2 throughout the summer.

The work addresses the concept of the mise en scène as a central theme for realising the Liffey Quays as a grand civic boulevard, by addressing the symbiotic relationship between form, space and water. The linchpin to achieving their vision is a Rooms + Corridors strategy, which capitalises on existing spaces within the urban form to create a number of 'rooms' or public spaces designed to punctuate the Quays, while also maintaining their traditional linear nature. The work promotes a long-term approach in dealing with the future of the Liffey Quays.


The Lord Mayor described the project as “inspiring, thought provoking and timely” which “encapsulates the importance of the River Liffey for Dublin and highlights the need for a long term strategic vision”.

It is hoped that this exhibition and research will inspire debate, creativity and ultimately contribute towards achieving positive action which will see the Liffey Quays become the central civic spine and green boulevard of Dublin. 

Opening Hours: Monday - Friday 10.00am - 5.30pm.  

Website: www.urbannexusinitiative.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/21st-Century-Liffey/454972471222281

Twitter: https://twitter.com/Urban_Nexus



Revealing Aungier Street

January - May 2013

Discover the hidden history behind one of Dublin's most fascinating streets in this stimulating new exhibition. 

Aungier Street is one of Dublin’s oldest planned thoroughfares, laid out in 1661 as a high class residential suburb by Francis Aungier, first Earl of Longford. Cutting through ancient medieval lands of Whitefriars and the Church of St. Peter on the Mount, the new thoroughfare measured an unprecedented 70 feet in width – then the widest street in the city. Over the next twenty years, a series of prestigious town houses and large-scale city mansions were erected, catering for a privileged population that included bishops, earls and high ranking military. Most of these houses were of an architectural style all but extinct in Dublin today - stone and brick dwellings with high pitched roofs and dormer windows, or fronted with plain or decorative gables in the Dutch manner.

Although Aungier Street predated St. Stephen’s Green, which was set out in plots by Dublin Corporation in 1664, the nearby square was ultimately to prove the downfall of Aungier Street, as fashionable society migrated towards the more appealing environment of the Green and the adjacent new parish set around Dawson Street. By the early 1700s, many of the grand houses of Aungier Street were described as ruinous or ‘waste’ as the first batch of leases approached expiry. This prompted a second wave of development on the street and the wider Aungier estate by James Macartney and Michael Cuffe, much of which was built in the gable-fronted ‘Dutch Billy’ idiom then fashionable, contrasting with the older, dormer-roofed typology of the 1600s.

Today, Aungier Street is a complex layering of successive centuries of change that requires careful analysis, research and understanding in order to realise the significance of the archaeology, building stock and decorative interiors that still survive.

Come in and visit the exhibition - a collaboration between Dublin Civic Trust and Dublin City Council City Architects.

Open Monday - Friday 10am - 5.30pm

Postcards of Our City

October 2012 

This exhibition invites the citizens of Dublin (UNESCO City of Literature) to write their thoughts about their city on a postcard to the citizens of Tel Aviv (UNESCO City of Architecture). Curated by Paul Kearns and Motti Ruimy.

A Proposed Exhibition for The Irish House, Wood Quay 

September 2012

Eight artists propose an exhibition for The Irish House - formerly one of Dublin's most famous pubs 

One  of  the  most  flamboyant  buildings ever  erected  in  Dublin,  The  Irish  House  was unique in the city as a large-scale expression of nationalistic design with influences of the Celtic Revival era. Constructed in 1870 as a public house, it stood at the corner of Winetavern Street and Wood Quay next to the River Liffey, diagonally opposite from James Gandon’s stately Four Courts. Elaborately decorated by Burnet and Comerford, its façade was brought alive by a series of decorative plaques, motifs and flourishes recalling scenes from Irish history.

The  building  became  something  of  a  curiosity  on  Dublin’s  quays  and  a  familiar landmark that was to last for nearly a century, until its demolition was first mooted by Dublin  Corporation  in  1964.  However,  through  the  generous  intervention  of  Lord Moyne, then vice-chairman of the Guinness brewery, a project to salvage the building’s exterior was negotiated and financed in 1968. Following a period of display in the Hopstore, it spent many years in storage, before being donated to Dublin Civic Trust in 2003.

This stimulating new exhibition, running from Thursday September 20th until Monday October 1st, explores the cultural messages and nuances of the building through sculpture, craft, interactive and audio installations.   

The Artists

Simon Cummins, Hannah Fitz, Katie Mooney-Sheppard, Helen O’Dea, Stephanie Ita Russell, Dan Tuomey, Eimear Walshe and Tanad Willims.

The work is on display in Dublin Civic Trust from 10.00am - 18.00pm, Monday-Friday.

Buy the book on The Irish House in our online shop.

A series of short essays by those who knew and have studied the building, this well illustrated 35-page colour booklet, in both English and Irish, shines a light on one of the many forgotten buildings from Dublin's past.

Price: €6.50 (including postage) 


Dublin and Thereabouts

A new collection of watercolour perspectives of Dublin by leading artist, Thomas Ryan, R.H.A.

May - August 2012

This exhibition of watercolours of Dublin landmarks and street scenes coincides with the launch of a new publication of Thomas Ryan’s latest work – a picture book of Dublin showcasing two years of his study of the city and its outlying areas.

Thomas Ryan at the exhibition launch on May 2nd.

As he notes in his introduction to the book:

“A picture book of Dublin, while accommodating its notable architectural adornments, must also find room for the wayward and the commonplace. All cities reveal their identity less in the notable than in the general; the general look of the place rather than a line-up of its key buildings is more contributory to the curiosity of the visitors and the surprise of the citizens than yet another showcase of our architectural prima donnas.”

A select original collection of these views is now on display in Dublin Civic Trust, varying from a brooding National Concert Hall and other signature buildings of the city, to romantic vistas of the canals and bustling street scenes.

A selection of watercolours on display: National Concert Hall, Mountjoy Square and Hubband Bridge.

Ryan's insight on Dublin, tinged with a characterisitc dry wit, introduces his new book which is also on sale as part of the exhibition, through a series of essays on the various depicted districts of Dublin, interwoven with delightful vignettes and full-scale reproductions of his watercolours.

The hardback book Dublin and Thereabouts is available for sale in Dublin Civic Trust, priced €30.  


Dublin Street Architecture 1600 - 1750

Wednesday 12th October 2011

Conference Review 

Houses from left to right: Mill Street, Molesworth Street, Marrowbone Lane, Sweeney's Lane, Aungier Street

Dublin Civic Trust’s major conference Dutch Billys – A Hidden Building Tradition: Dublin Street Architecture 1600 – 1750 was held in front of a capacity audience in the spectacular surroundings of the House of Lords in the Bank of Ireland, College Green on Wednesday 12th October 2011.

House of Lords

House of Lords Chamber

Michelle Fagan, President-elect, RIAIOpened by President-elect of the RIAI, Michelle Fagan, the audience of 120 people was reminded of the value of the historic built environment in creating an identity of place and how its protection reflects the cultural values of a society that is proud of its cultural inheritance. Ms Fagan noted how unidentified early buildings were particularly vulnerable to development pressures due to a lack of official recognition, and highlighted the potential they have to be put to dynamic use and reuse as characterful homes and workplaces.

Welcoming attendees and speakers to the event, CEO of Dublin Civic Trust, Geraldine Walsh, informed the audience about the background to the conference and the survey work and historical research that has been undertaken recently by Peter Walsh, Peter Keenahan and Graham Hickey, as well as the body of research that has been built up over the past three decades on the plan and evolution of Dublin and its buildings by experts such as Niall McCullough and the late Maurice Craig.

The proceedings were opened in an appropriately captivating manner by renowned Dublin historian, Peter Walsh, who highlighted through rare photographs, prints and deeds, the considerable diversity in gabled building types of the city from the 1500s to the opening years of the eighteenth century. His vast knowledge of the evolution of Dublin city brought to life the range of influences that shaped its vernacular architecture, ranging from migrant tradespeople and builders from Britain, to the property interests and centres of settlement of Huguenot, Quaker and other dissenter populations. Peter was followed by architect, Niall McCullough, author of Dublin – An Urban History, who brought the audience through a trail of house plans and types, assessing how interior space was used and design concepts were arrived at, and analysing the charms of his own workplace – a formerly gabled house on Molesworth Street constructed by builder, Benjamin Rudd, in 1744.

Architect, Peter Keenahan, brought the audience on a journey through gabled house types by categorisation, highlighting architectural features, construction techniques and common characteristics as shared from Dublin to Drogheda to Limerick. Pinpointing the Clancarty mansion on College Green through a Joseph Tudor engraving and a Francis Place drawing was one of the highlights. He also demonstrated his exceptional knowledge of gable types through a remarkable array of personally drafted drawings which brought the subject to life. Graham Hickey of Dublin Civic Trust followed, highlighting the hidden nature of early buildings in the city which often lurk intriguingly behind modified Regency or Victorian facades. His presentation included a round-up of vulnerable buildings, both formerly gabled and transitional types, and highlighted the inconsistent approach of the Record of Protected Structures to listing these buildings. Franc Myles, one of the few archaeologists in Ireland that specialises in the late medieval and post-medieval period, specialising in domestic buildings and industrial structures, spoke captivatingly about his extensive recent digs in the Cork Street area, exposing the substantial remains of a tannery and brewery, including watercourses and cisterns. He also assessed early plan forms of houses on Smithfield that were probably later converted to shops in the eighteenth century – an indication of the decline in the fashionability of the area by that time.

James Kelly, Kelly & Cogan ArchitectsThe afternoon session opened in insightful style, with a masterful overview by Rolf Loeber of the gabled tradition across Europe from the 1400s to the 1700s. He concluded that the term Dutch Billy was entirely inappropriate, as with most speakers on the day. He observed that while there was a significant local flavour in the style of gabled houses that were built in Ireland, the broad influence of the movement was one of an international trend that spanned nations from the Renaissance onwards. He highlighted the gabled form of the pavilion wings of Palladio’s Villa Barbaro as an example of the pervasive nature of the tradition, in that instance entering the strict canon of classicism – a theme, he noted, that is apparent in Irish country houses of the 1600s. Architect, James Kelly, explored the possible international influences on Irish interiors of the period as gleaned from contemporaneous painting, printing and engraving. He explored plain timber plank paneling adorning the walls of depicted interiors, features such as draught platforms and niches for crockery, and furniture styles and their placement within domestic rooms. Exterior elements such as early windows and pantiles, and curious structures such as cookhouses, also peppered his thought-provoking lecture.

John Montague explored the contemporaneous city as explored through John Rocque’s Exact Survey of 1756 and Bernard de Gomme’s map of Dublin of 1673, amongst others - pinpointing residences, industry and expanding new suburbs. He pointedly highlighted how our modern-day perception of the Georgian city is filtered through the relatively small and ‘sanitised’ sample of what now remains today, rather than the considerably varied streetscapes and building typologies that once defined the capital as late as the 1950s.

The day was fittingly closed by a captivating presentation by Freddie O’Dwyer, author of Lost Dublin amongst many other articles. He focused primarily on the large mansions of the seventeenth and early-eighteenth century city, including the mansion of the Earls of Kildare on Suffolk Street, the Conolly mansion on Capel Street and Ardee House on Ardee Street, amongst others. He spoke of the surviving great mansions of the Aungier estate, that while predominantly built of brick, share many of the structural characterisitics of timber-cage construction, while his show-stopping finale was a conceptual drawing of the ancient Belvedere House in Drumcondra, part of which still survives, from the roof of which he convincingly claimed Francis Place’s elusive perspective of the north side of Dublin was taken.  

James Kelly, Freddie O'Dwyer, John Montague and Peter KeenahanChristine Casey of Trinity College Dublin wrapped up the events by animatedly chairing a short discussion on the issues raised throughout the conference. While a debate persisted through the day on the derivation and appropriateness of ‘Billy’ in referencing a political aspect to the gabled movement’s success after 1690, a general consensus was reached on the broader international influence on gabled buildings in Ireland, and in particular the construction and craft skills as introduced by immigrants in shaping a vernacular style that developed in Ireland in the 1600s, flourishing into a more confident, decorous style in the early years of the eighteenth century.

Dublin Civic Trust is deeply grateful to all who made the day such a success, in particular the seven speakers who generously gave their time and expertise, including Martin Colreavy of the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht. The seamless operation of the day was also facilitated by the expert chairing of Raymond Gillespie of NUI Maynooth, Ali Grehan, City Architect of Dublin City Council, Eddie McParland of Trinity College Dublin, and Christine Casey of Trinity College Dublin.

We hope the conference has brought a new awareness and understanding of the gabled building typology and other early buildings of Ireland of the 1600s and 1700s.  We look forward to building on the outcomes of the conference by undertaking a survey of these structures that survive across Dublin city, and encouraging greater public interaction with the subject through a variety of exciting projects.

Read the article on the conference from The Irish Times, Thursday 13th October 2011      

The quaint term Dutch Billy has been used for over half a century to generically describe town houses of the pre-Georgian period, often recalling evocative photographs of triangular-gabled weavers’ houses still present in early twentieth century Dublin, or Dutch-gabled houses, usually heavily modified, surviving in the midst of some of the capital’s most fashionable Georgian streets into the 1950s and beyond. The Billy has almost reached mythical status, with relatively few examples surviving today, and only a small quantum of their forebears lasting sufficiently unaltered by the twentieth century to leave us with a vivid documentary record of their original architectural pretensions. Until now, much of our understanding of these important early houses has been influenced by nostalgia, conjecture and assumption.   

Dutch Billy does little descriptive justice to the sophisticated buildings of the largely forgotten and often dismissed period of Irish urban expansion of the late 1600s and early 1700s, and its resulting gabled architectural tradition that lasted into the middle of the eighteenth century - the theme often branching out to encompass country houses, churches and public buildings. However, recent and ongoing research being carried out with Dublin Civic Trust is revealing a wealth of new information about these early buildings, documenting in considerable detail the magnificent urban tradition that pre-dated Ireland’s Georgian expansion.

The first ever public event of its kind on the subject, featuring a host of illustrious expert speakers, this seminal conference on Dublin’s gable-fronted architecture aims to dispel many of the myths associated with ‘fabled gables’, and to highlight the extraordinary diversity, eclecticism, and noble civic spirit of Dublin’s largely forgotten tradition of gabled street architecture.

Supported by




Session Chairs
Prof. Raymond Gillespie, NUI Maynooth
Ali Grehan, Dublin City Architect
Dr. Edward McParland, Trinity College Dublin
Dr. Christine Casey, Trinity College Dublin  

09.10 – 09.30     Registration

09.30                    Doors close (sharp)

09.30                    Welcome & Introduction
                              Geraldine Walsh, Chief Executive Officer, Dublin Civic Trust

09.40                    Opening Address
                              Michelle Fagan, President-elect, Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland

09.50                    Fabled Gables and the Persistence of Antique Form
                              Peter Walsh, Historian and Archaeologist

10.30                    Morphology of a Changing City – Dublin’s Early Streetscapes
                              Niall McCullough, Architect

11.00                    Discussion

11.10                    Tea/Coffee Break

11.40                    Towards a Classification - Dublin’s Gabled House Typologies
                              Peter Keenahan, Architect

12.20                    A Hidden Legacy - What’s with us Today
                              Graham Hickey, Conservation Research Officer, Dublin Civic Trust

12.40                    Engine of the City - Dublin Industry of the 17th and 18th Centuries                              
                              Franc Myles, Archaeologist 

13.00                    Discussion

13.10                    Lunch

14.10                    Welcome Back - Government Policy on Architecture 
                              Martin Colreavy, Chief Architectural Advisor, Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht 

14.20                    How Dutch were the Dutch Billys? 
                              Continental and English Perspectives on Irish Town Houses and Mansions
                              Prof. Rolf Loeber, Author on Architectural History  

15.00                    Some Minor and Inconsequential Matters – Details of Domesticity 
                              James Kelly, Conservation Architect

15.25                    Discussion

15.35                    Tea/Coffee Break

15.55                    Charting a Changing City - John Rocque's Exact Survey of 1756                              
                              Dr. John Montague 

16.15                    Dublin’s Forgotten Architectural Tradition  
                              Dr. Frederick O’Dwyer, Senior Architectural Advisor, Dept. of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht

16.40                    Concluding Discussion 
                              Chaired by Dr. Christine Casey, Trinity College Dublin

17.00                    Close

Download Programme

Membership & Newsletter

Join us on Social Networks

Friends of Dublin Civic Trust

Copyright ©2017 Dublin Civic Trust - 18 Upper Ormond Quay, Dublin 7, Ireland
Tel: +00353 (0)1 874 9681 • Email: info@dublincivictrust.ie

Designed by Aeronstudio™