Re: Re: Nicholas Street

Home Forums Ireland Nicholas Street Re: Re: Nicholas Street


I would love to see a full reconstruction of the Exchange (1778 building) on Nicholas Street.

As space for re-internment of those graves could be available within the cemetery.

The original site of the exchange itself does not appear to be that large.

The ground floor was once used as a covered market and the first floor was the council chamber (1673 building).

By inserting a floor with six windows plus a little roof on top and we have our Exchange restored to its original state.

This would be an amazing add on for the Cathedral for administrative / residential purposes as their corner church house (Nicholas Street / Saint Augustine Place) is not really fitting for such a Cathedral.

Or alternatively as a civic building, as it would make an excellent location as a Registry Office for performing civil marriages.

The Exchange from a painting of 1820.

It was the headquarters of Limerick Corporation from 1673 to 1846.

Limerick Corporation itself financed the construction of its own headquarters. In 1702, the exchange, which had been severely damaged during the sieges of 1690-91, was rebuilt during the mayoralty of William Davis. After this initial project was completed, little more was done fro sixty years. During the period of the Corporation Roches, all of the Limerick civic buildings were allowed to decay. In 1761, the Committee of the Irish House of Commons which investigated abuses in the Limerick Corporation reported that ‘the thosel’ and market house (i.e. the Exchange) of the said city are in a ruinous condition, that the courthouse is pulled down and the gaol not fit for the reception of prisoners.

Thomas Smyth MP (1776-85) took control of the Corporation in 1776, Smyth had the Exchange entirely rebuilt in 1777-78. The Corporation met the total cost, amounting to £1500. The dean and chapter of St. Mary’s Cathedral had donated a part of the churchyard to the Corporation, so the new Exchange was larger than the old, and unlike the latter, it did not project onto the street.

(History of Limerick Corporation by Mathew Potter)

The Acquisition of a new Town Hall Rutland Street

One of the most striking differences between municipal authorities in Britain and Ireland in the nineteenth century was the proliferation of magnificent new city and town halls in the former as compared to the latter. Many British cities expanded rapidly in both wealth and population as a result of the Industrial Revolution and expressed their confidence and civic pride in the construction of vast new civic headquarters.

Amongst the most striking examples were the city halls in Manchester, Leeds and Glasgow. Significantly, the most grandiose city hall built in Ireland in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries was that of the industrial city of Belfast.

By contrast, the economically depressed cities and towns of southern Ireland built no such fine civic headquarters. In 1852, Dublin Corporation had to be content with taking over the former Royal Exchange (a comparatively small, though beautiful building which had been used by the Dublin Guild of Merchants as a business centre) and converting it into the new City Hall.

A similar development had occurred in Limerick in the 1840s. One of the most symbolic acts of the Reformed Corporation was the removal of the civic headquarters from the old city to Newtown Pery. By this time the old Exchange was considered to be to small, and to be situated in too peripheral a location for a municipal authority that now aspired to establish its control over Newtown Pery.

The Commercial Buildings had housed both the Chamber of Commerce and the Commissioners of St Michaels Parish. After they both relocated the building was purchased by the Corporation in 1846 and became the new Town Hall.
The fate of the old Exchange was to be a sad one. It was abandoned by the Corporation and gradually fell into ruins. In 1884, it was purchased from the local authority by a wealthy member of the Church of Ireland named Robert Hunt who then presented it free of charge to St. Mary’s Cathedral. It was immediately demolished and the site used to extend the burial ground surrounding the Cathedral. However, the colonnade at the front of the Exchange was salvaged and was incorporated into the wall of the burial ground.

(History of Limerick Corporation by Mathew Potter)

Latest News