It Took 10 Years To Build Dublin's Custom House At A Cost of £200,000 And in 1921 The I.R.A. Burned the Imposing Building
How did the ancient craftsmen of Ireland build such magnificent buildings such as cathedrals, government buildings and monuments dotted all over Ireland. The construction is only part of any major building project and before any shovels or trowels are seen, the architects as designers and the sculptors as craftsmen, put in a huge amount of hours into pre-planning.
We are referring to TIMES PAST for our Irish Heritage Website and we are also talking about many historic buildings/venues built in 18th century Ireland. It was an era long before Henry Ford invented his Model T Motor car and transport was by horse and cart and long before modern day style scaffolding made reaching great heights an everyday routine.
It is an 18th century neoclassical prominent building which now provides offices for the Department Of Housing, Planning and Local Government. Its location is in the north bank of the famous river Liffey and adjacent to the Talbot Memorial Bridge and Butt Bridge.
In 1707, engineer Thomas Burgh built the original Custom House, but this building had outlived its purpose and was condemned in the late 18th century as unsafe for use.
The cost of a new Custom House did not seem to bother John Beresford who was the instigator behind the project. At that time, Ireland under British rule, had John Beresford as head of finance for Ireland.
Beresford did not get off to the start he envisaged when the original architect he appointed, Thomas Cooley, died unexpectedly. Into the breach Beresford brought James Gandon, a relatively new architect, now tasked with a huge design project and little experience of major projects.
The area selected as the site was marshland and the acquisition of the land proved extremely expensive. Protests at the development were mounted but Beresford took on all comers who were negative towards his grandiose plan and he ploughed on regardless.
1781 marks the commencement of the building work and James Gandon chose some of the very best artists and stone cutters in the land. Any Dublin mason who wanted work need look no further than Beresford and Gandon.
After a mighty ten years of intensive toiling, the new Custom House welcomed its first workers through the doors on 7th November 1791.
Over £200,000 was spent on the structure, a mighty sum in that far off era of Times Past. The completed project rose the profile of James Gandon as an architect to new horizons and he never again had to wait for new commissions.
The Custom House intended use was the collection of custom duties but as the Port Of Dublin rapidly expanded and moved downriver, use of the large building was greatly diminished.
The Local Government Board For Ireland would later take up tenancy but when the Irish War Of Independence erupted in 1921, the Irish Republican Army decided to burn down the place to displace British Rule in Ireland.
Many facets of the imposing building were gutted but the I.R.A. destruction also had a negative effect as historic records were lost and several volunteers were captured as they retreated.
Following the Irish Treaty of 1921, the property was now under the ownership of the new Irish government who set about rebuilding the property.
The Custom House is a huge building to maintain and considerable sums have been spent over many years preserving this monumental Dublin building.