64 Eccles Street

64 Eccles Street

Postby Max » Sat Aug 30, 2003 2:18 pm

Does any one know anything about the four carvings (three rectangular and one circular) on number 64 Eccles Street?
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Max
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Postby trace » Sat Aug 30, 2003 11:41 pm

Maurice Craig's 'Dublin 1660-1860', p280-2 (Allen Figgis & Co Ltd, 1980 reprinting): "Francis Johnston is, after Gandon, the greatest name in Irish architecture. Though he never did anything to equal the parliament House or Castletown [mainly because nobody ever asked him to], he left so much work and such evidence of versatility, that his place cannot be disputed. . . [Johnston also built houses in Eccles Street. His own house, No 64 (next door to that of Sir Boyle Roche, No 63), was apparently already existing before he doubled its width with the part adorned with round-headed windows and placques emblematic of the Arts. It appears that this addition was later increased in height. The joinery of his house is very Johnstonian in feeling. At the rear is an octagonal room with a lantern roof. Inset in the outer wall of this room, overlooking the garden, are busts of George III and Queen Charlotte. Johnston's politics were very 'loyal'.]" The circular decorative relief plaque from the facade is pictured on p439 of Peter Pearson's 'The Heart of Dublin: Resurgence of an Historic City' (The O'Brien Press Ltd, 2000).
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Postby GrahamH » Sun Aug 31, 2003 1:07 am

I find it absolutely extraordinary how a whole Georgian world in this area literally disappeared overnight, in the form of the demolition of Hardwicke Street and the cresent that surrounded St Georges (Dublin's only major 18th century cresent) in the 1930s (ish), not to mention many houses around the Mater and countless other terraces.
It is such a shame, an uncalculable loss to Dublin - with the exception of Merrion Sq & Fitzwilliam St & Square, the city now has no exclusively Georgian area, extraordinary - in what many term a 'Georgian City'.

I have possibly the earliest photograph ever taken of a Dublin street at home in a book, of Hardwicke St in the 1840s, and whereas I am indulging in shameless nostalgia, it is incredible to see the area so free of modern intrusions, cobbles still line the st, there are people posing in top hats, but above all, the st is utterly deserted - these people aside - indicating how just exclusively residential this area was.
It was taken in the last straggling years of 'respectability' on the Northside.

Today, the street and cresent is now lined with CC flats, the flats around St Georges still forming the cresent.
I wonder how many of their inhabitants are aware of what used to exist on these streets, many would be very surprised to find it was once one of the most eclusive streets in the city.
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Postby trace » Sun Aug 31, 2003 10:06 pm

There's a better picture of the circular plaque on p60 of the "Phaidon Architecture Guide to Dublin" (by John Graby and Deirdre O'Connor, 1993), which dates No. 64 "c1810". Julie Craig's "See Dublin on Foot: An Architectural Walking Guide" (Dublin Civic Trust, 2001) says on p16 that one of the plaques depicts Michelangelo's 'Moses'. (It also says that Johnston (1761-1829) rented the house to Isaac Butt (1813-1879), founder of the Irish Home Rule Party - which seems improbable.)

Vivien Igoe's "Dublin Burial Grounds & Graveyards" (Wolfhound Press, 2001), describing Johnston's tomb in St George's Cemetery (Whitworth Road, Drumcondra) on pp237-8, mentions 64 Eccles Street, "where he kept a number of bells in the stable to the rear of his house. These were rung on special occasions. Understandably it did not make him too popular with his neighbours. He presented these to St George's Church [in Hardwicke Place, his masterpiece, built between 1802 and 1813] in 1828. He endowed the bells with an annual sum, which was given to the ringers to hold a dinner, the condition being that the bells were to be rung on certain occasions, one of which was his birthday! Sadly too, they tolled on his death. The bells of St George's are immortalised in Ulysses: 'A creak and a dark whirr in the air high up. The bells of St George's church. They tolled the hour: loud dark iron.' With the closure of St George's Church, and its conversion into a theatre, the bells were transferred to Christ Church in Taney [Dundrum] and rang in the new millennium."
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Postby trace » Sun Aug 31, 2003 10:51 pm

http://www.bellringingireland.org/North/Holywood/Home.html claims that six of the ten bells from 64 Eccles Street went to Hollywood, Co Down following an 1844 auction. All but one of them, now in Ballyclare, Co Antrim, were melted down in 1891.

From "Dublin: A Historical and Topographical Account of the City" (by Samuel A Ossory Fitzpatrick, with illustrations by W Curtis Greene, 1907): "It was commonly believed that the organ on which [Handel] played the Messiah was that now in St. Michan’s Church, but the instrument so used was a chamber organ, and was preserved at 64 Eccles Street in the collection of curiosities of Francis Johnston, the architect [and first President of the RHA]." http://indigo.ie/~kfinlay/ossory/ossory6.htm
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