Re: Re: O’ Connell Street, Dublin

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It should be noted – as evidenced in gunter’s image above – that the terrace wasn’t entirely unified. In typically pragmatic, eighteenth century Dublin form, only the five bays closest to the O’Connell Street corner were composed into a single ‘pavilion’ unit, matching that of the other five-bay building on the opposing Eden Quay corner. The remaining two buildings on Bachelors Walk were an afterthought, neither matching the neighbouring pavilion by way of roof detail, fenestration or even window size in the case of the first and second floors. The equivalent ‘tack-on’ buildings on Eden Quay were more successful in this respect, apparently being built by the one builder with a single shallow pitch roofline – thus the pavilion and its neighbours almost read as one. They’re pictured below with various Victorian signage accretions, hence the darker appearance, but you get the idea.

We probably don’t need to rehearse the usual points about the matching tripartite windows with bracketed cornices on the pavilions facing O’Connell Street, but a little noted feature was the rather limp cornice that adorned the top of the central window of the first floor facades fronting the river. This is an original – if bizarre – WSC feature as it originally featured on both pavilions, including, to more successful effect, on the O’Connell Street elevation at second floor level. Granite quoins also adorned the corners of the blocks – indeed all street corners up O’Connell Street – hence the oddly stranded quoins in the middle of the Bachelors Walk terrace which still survive today.

The fact that the five-bay pavilions were incredibly shallow buildings, being only one room deep, and that they were only five bays wide and not nine or ten to present fully formal compositions to the river, is an indication of the reluctance of the WSC to interfere in private property where they weren’t expressly required. Aside from setting the building line of the quay, they reserved their strict architectural guidance only for the approximate depth of the buildings on O’Connell Street – namely five bays.

As to the shopfronts here, it would appear that the five-bay pavilions did not conform to the semicircle – semi-ellipse – semicircle – semi-ellipse format of the shopfronts on O’Connell Street, as depicted below from a working drawing of the WSC dated 1789.

Every image we have, including Shaw’s Pictorial Directory of 1850 (if a bit stunted in that instance), shows five uniform arches on the Bachelors Walk pavilion – the O’Connell Street elevation obviously having been altered by this point. (Also note the window cornice at first floor level)

It appears elliptical arches only were deployed on the pavilion section. It’s possible this is a nineteenth century makeover, not unlike The Cornerstone on Wexford Street, but it seems to be original as the thin detailing looks correct.

Famously, this corner got a hammering in 1916, hence the application of render over the pockmarked brickwork. This is the greatest challenge facing the removal of the render today, also not disregarding the handsome dentilated cornice of the same vintage. It’s still well worth doing though.

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