Re: Re: college green/ o’connell street plaza and pedestrians

Home Forums Ireland college green/ o’connell street plaza and pedestrians Re: Re: college green/ o’connell street plaza and pedestrians


Graham: I’ll try and come back to this in more datail later, but I just want to clarify the point that I’ve been trying to make about the Trinity railings and front lawns.

The current railings are magnificent, there’s no question about that and together with the lawns they create an oasis of calm which is much loved my lots of people, including legions of Dubliners who’ve waited here to meet their dates, in the era before mobile phones. Although, why we can’t just have our transition to an oasis of calm, 10m further on, when we go through the archway is beyond me.

If you say that the previous railings (the ones we see in the Malton print) were erected by 1761, I’ll accept that too.

I also accept that the an enclosure at the front of Trinity existed before then. The half hexagonal enclosure we see on Brooking’s map of 1728 proves that the old front of Trinity was also, for a time, protected from the rough and tumble of the city by a railing enclosure. Brooking’s accompanying print shows this half wall / half railings in all it’s artless horrow.

Sorry for the image quality, my copy of Brooking’s map is tiny. The copy that used to hang on the half landing in the Civic Museum in South William Street, has obviously gone into storage somewhere.

Sorry, another bad quality image of the old front of Trinity, shown here above an elevation of the Library, again from Brooking’s map of 1728.

My point is that at some point between 1728 and 1756, an extraordinary thing happened, something which would never happen today. The college authorities, possibly in tandem with city officials, threw down their defensive railings and briefly embraced the notion that Trinity constituted one edge of an emerging urban space, and one of some magnificence. My guess is that this happened about 1735 or so, when the new parliament house had been completed and College Green had assumed the role of the central civic space of the expanding city and, arguably, the nation (in whatever form that was perceived to be).

Whether, and for how long, the ground floor windows of the new west front were exposed to the grand civic space of College Green (as depicted on Rocque’s map) without the protection of a forward railing enclosure is a matter for speculation. I would point out, at this juncture, that the standard (Europe wide) solution to exposed ground floor windows, since Renaissance times if not earlier, has been simply to design in hefty iron grills.

An example from Rome, can’t remember which palazzo.

I fully accept that there are plenty of other things wrong with College Green, as you have clearly identified, but I don’t think that it would do us any harm to include an appraisal of the existing railings and lawns in any future urban review of College Green, (not that there’s ever likeky to be an urban review of College Green, or anywhere else in Dublin).

Btw and at the risk of stirring the hornet’s nest again, your triangular urban space / traffic island opposite the Lord’s portico, would make a great square urban space, if we just got rid of the . . . .

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