Tailors Hall

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      A Tailors Hall Website has been created

      For the first time a historical perspective for the building has been documented online

      The Tailors’ Hall is the oldest surviving Guild Hall in the city of Dublin. Built in the first decade of the eighteenth century (or earlier) it is of considerable architectural and historical interest and has been at the heart of Dublin for nearly 300 years.

      A Jesuit college was established on the site in 1627, which continued there until the middle of the 17th century. The Tailors came to the site in 1706 and it appears that they transformed the old college into the buildings that exist today. Other guilds met in the hall other than the tailors’. They included the hosiers, tanners, saddlers and barber surgeons. It was also used at various times for balls, entertainment, musical performances and auctions.

      At one stage there was a dance school there on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays, while a fencing master gave lessons on Thursdays. Tuesday evenings were reserved for Methodist meetings.

      The Grand Lodge of the Freemasons met there on a regular basis over 50 years and Dublin Corporation held meetings there in 1791. In 1798 the building was commandeered for use as an army barracks and in the 1820’s it served as a Court House when the Court for Insolvent Debtors was set up.

      However, Tailors’ Hall is best known for the series of important meetings held there in 1792 organised by the Catholic Committee. These came to be known as The Back Lane Parliament. Delegates came from all over Ireland. Wolfe Tone was the secretary of the committee and their objective was to secure relief from the remaining penal laws. The Dublin Society of United Irishmen also held meetings in Tailors’ Hall until 1792. A room on the first floor of the building is now called after Wolfe Tone in his memory. In the early eighteenth century Tailors’ Hall was the largest public room in Dublin and in 1731 Lord Mountjoy entertained the Viceroy and nobility there.

      In 1841 the guilds were abolished and for the following 32 years the Hall was used for the Tailors’ endowed school. In 1873 the building was placed at the disposal of the Mission to the Liberties, which continued there until 1949. In the 1950s the Hall was used by the Legion of Mary but became derelict and was declared unsafe by Dublin Corporation.

      The recent history of the Hall began in 1966 when a group of interested people came together as the Tailors’ Hall Fund with the objective of saving and restoring the building. A 99-year lease was granted to the Fund and work began on restoring the hall. The building was then let to commercial interests in order to pay off the overdraft they had run up. This franchise came to an end in March 1984. At this stage An Taisce approached the directors of the Tailors’ Hall Fund with a view to acquiring the building for its national headquarters. It was agreed that the organisation should take over the building. Dublin Corporation who is the ground landlords of the building gave its blessing to this agreement. The lease was assigned to An Taisce at a “peppercorn” rent of 5p per annum payable to Dublin Corporation. An Taisce moved its offices there in the summer of 1984 having carried out some necessary alterations.


      It is believed that the Hall is by far the largest early house remaining in Dublin. Maurice Craig, the noted architectural historian, says of it in ‘Dublin 1660 – 1860’, “The hall lit by its round-headed windows, is on the present entrance floor. At its west end is a fine carved wooden screen – perhaps a remodelled reredos from an extinct church. It may have been placed here in 1706 and is probably older. The chimney-piece is of veined white marble: the gift of Christopher Neary, Master. At the east end, over the door is a delicate semi-oval balcony, with wrought iron railings and a dome shaped surrounding board or hood, opening from an upper room. It is probably later than the chimney-piece. The staircase, very similar to the now destroyed example at Molyneux House, must date from 1706. It has beautiful barley-sugar balusters, and is built in a projection at the back, extending from basement to attic. The attic rooms, in their clean-plastered simplicity, are especially attractive. Richard Mill, the Assistant to the Masters of the City Works was the overseer and presumably architect of the building”.

      The building today consists of a large entrance hall, the great hall, the lower hall, and the Wolfe Tone room on the first floor. The attic storey, now used as offices, has deep window recesses. There is a legend that Edward Fitzgerald hid in these attics.


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