Re: Re: O’ Connell Street, Dublin

Home Forums Ireland O’ Connell Street, Dublin Re: Re: O’ Connell Street, Dublin


That’s good news Stephen – hopefully we’ll see some action for once. Ironically, they shot themselves in the foot on this one, as it was only the change in signage that triggered enforcement proceedings.

Good news also on the Irish Nationwide signage. It says a lot about the implementation of the ACA and Special Planning Control Scheme that the only designated signage to come down on O’Connell Street in nearly a decade has occurred through the horrendous death of a window cleaner in 2005, who pulled down the Chas F. Ryan signage over Ann Summers in an attempt to save himself, and in the case of Irish Nationwide – well, the implosion of the world’s financial system and the decimation of the Irish economy. One dreads to think what is needed to remove the other advertising on Eden Quay – World War III? With any luck Helga II will sort things out for us.

The removal of the lettering (if not yet their substructure, which probably requires planning permission) makes a considerable difference.



The fine late Edwardian facade decluttered.

Unfortunately, that nasty floodlighting, which only went in a few years ago as part of the equally crude repainting job seen below, was not removed.


This site was of course occupied by a fine red brick building that comprised part of the Wide Streets Commissioners’ 1780s set-piece composition framing the entrance to Sackville Street.

The corner building, as with that that still survives on the opposite side of the street, was a relatively narrow building in appearance (though the same width as the other plots on Sackville Street) that hosted a feature tripartite window at first floor level – its principal elevation facing onto Eden Quay.

The famous jewellers Hopkins & Hopkins occupied the ground floor shop unit both before and after the 1916 Rising reduced the building to rubble. Famously, they were the makers of the original Sam Maguire cup (now replaced with a replica for match use).

Their fine new premises, built from a hefty insurance claim, was erected to the designs of the architectural practice O’Callaghan & Webb, who made considerable hay out of the rebuilding of the area post-1916.

The building is one of the firm’s more successful designs – robust, decorous yet streamlined, and above all elegant in massing and detail. The masonry is a little gauche in places, but for the most part ingenuity is displayed with deep voids, confident channelling and a well proportioned hierarchy of storey treatment. The building composes itself much more successfully from a distance, as intended to be viewed from O’Connell Bridge.

Unfortunately, the building’s sophistication is considerably diluted and its architectural expression cheapened by the painting of its double-height timber window bays in white. These are not simply an accent or a detail of the building – they are a central element of its facades’ composition. To decorate the frames with the frivolous notions of the 1980s, rather than carefully selected finishes that give full acknowledgment of their equal importance to the cut stone that surrounds them, is to change the building into something it was never intended to be. The bays are supposed to read as heavy, punchy, robust voids in the facades – not as trashy, garish white effects that clash rather than harmonise with the overall composition.

Here is an original photograph of the building from shortly after its completion in 1922. What a pleasing and thoroughly elegant composition it makes on the corner.

The deep, dark voids are reminiscent of the luxurious bronze bays of Selfridges and the many banks and insurance offices of early 1900s Britain.

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