City Hall, Dublin

The City Hall, Dublin (Irish: Halla na Cathrach, Baile Átha Cliath), originally the Royal Exchange, is a civic building in Dublin, Ireland. It was built between 1769 and 1779 to the designs of architect Thomas Cooley and is a notable example of 18th-century architecture in the city.

City Hall, Dublin
Halla na Cathrach, Baile Átha Cliath
City Hall, Dublin-5198644 fc442a39.jpg
Dublin City Hall, as viewed from Lord Edward Street
Former namesThe Royal Exchange
General information
AddressDame St,
Dublin 2
Town or cityDublin
Coordinates53°20′38″N 6°16′02″W / 53.343854°N 6.267154°W / 53.343854; -6.267154
Elevation8 metres (26 ft)
Construction started1769
Design and construction
ArchitectThomas Cooley


18th century view of the Royal Exchange; one of "Malton's views of Dublin"

Located at the top of Parliament Street on the city's southern side, the City Hall building stands next to Dublin Castle, the centre of the British government in Ireland until 1922. Parliament Street had been laid-out in 1753,[1] providing a continuation of Capel Street on the north bank of the Liffey, across the newly widened Essex Bridge.[2]

Originally built as the Royal Exchange, the structure was designed by Thomas Cooley, who had won a design competition run for the project between 1768 and 1769.[3] The exterior of the building is primarily made out of white Portland stone from a quarry in Dorset.[4] The large size and fittings of the exchange, with carved capitals by Simon Vierpyl, and plasterwork by the leading stuccodore Charles Thorpe, reflect the standing and prestige of Dublin in the 18th century.[citation needed] The neo-classical building contains a central entrance hall or Rotunda, with a large dome supported by twelve columns which are surrounded by an ambulatory where the merchants strolled and discussed business meetings.[4]

The function of the building was to act as the Dublin Stock Exchange and to provide a meeting place for Dublin's businessmen. It was also close to the then Customs House that stood on the site of today's Clarence Hotel, making it convenient for overseas merchants. The cost of building the exchange was met by the Parliament of Ireland, and this is reflected by the initials "SPQH", standing for "Senatus PopulusQue Hibernicus", meaning "The senate and people of Ireland" (an Irish version of SPQR).[5]

The city government had originally been located in the mediæval Tholsel at the corner of Nicholas Street and Christchurch Place, approximately 300 metres to the west (where the 'Peace Park' is today), and before that on the Thingmount, where Suffolk Street now runs.[6] In the 18th century, meetings were held in South William Street (formerly the Civic Museum).

In 1815 the metal balustrade of the exchange fell, owing to the pressure against it by a crowd, which led to the death of nine people, with much more injured. This led to crowd restrictions in the building.[7]

In the 1850s, the City Corporation bought the Royal Exchange and converted it for use by the city government. The changes included partitions around the ambulatory, the construction of a new staircase from the Rotunda to the upper floors and the sub-division of the vaults for storage. On 30 September 1852, the Royal Exchange was renamed City Hall at the first meeting of Dublin City Council held there. (The ward name "Royal Exchange" was retained, corresponding to the current electoral divisions of Royal Exchange A and B.)[8][9] A series of frescos were later added, representing the regions of Ireland.

During the 1916 Easter Rising, the City Hall was used as a garrison for the Irish Citizen Army. Sean Connolly seized the building using a key which he obtained as he worked in the motor department and had access to the building. There were 35 people based here, mostly women. It was in this area where the first casualty of the rising, a guard named James O’Brien, occurred at Dublin Castle and he was shot by Sean Connolly while on duty. In total, the entire siege lasted about 12 hours.[10]


Main entrance to Dublin City Hall

The building was restored to its 18th-century appearance at the beginning of the 21st century, and Dublin City Council won an award for the conservation work on the building.[citation needed]

Floor mosaic showing city arms and motto

Most Dublin City Council staff are located in the newer and brutalist design Civic Offices, controversially built from 1979 on the site of a national monument, the Viking city foundations on Wood Quay.

Dublin Corporation itself was renamed in the early 21st century as Dublin City Council, previously the name of the assembly of councillors only. Some council meetings take place in City Hall.[11]

There is an exhibition on the history of Dublin City, called "Dublin City Hall, The Story of the Capital", located in the vaults.[12]

See alsoEdit


  1. ^ "NIAH Entry - Parliament Street Medical Practice, Parliament Street, Dublin". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  2. ^ Lennon, Colm (22 January 2009). "Dublin's Civic Buildings in the Early Modern Period". Dublin City Council. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  3. ^ "Thomas Cooley". Dictionary of Irish Architects. Irish Architectural Archive. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  4. ^ a b "Dublin's City Hall - Story of the Capital (History brochure)" (PDF). Dublin City Council. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  5. ^ McParland, E (1972). "James Gandon and the Royal Exchange Competition, 1768-69". The Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland. 102 (1): 58–72. JSTOR 25509772.
  6. ^ Collin, James (1913). "Life in Old Dublin, James Duffy and Co., Dublin". Archived from the original on 9 November 2007.
  7. ^ McGregor, John James (1821). New Picture of Dublin. Johnston. p. 40.
  8. ^ "S.I. No. 12/1986 - County Borough of Dublin (Wards) Regulations, 1986". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  9. ^ "S.I. No. 45/2014 - City of Dublin Local Electoral Areas Order 2014". Irish Statute Book. Retrieved 22 October 2015.
  10. ^ "History of City Hall". Dublin City Council. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  11. ^ "Your City Council". Retrieved 25 October 2018. [Council] meetings are convened in City Hall or other locations around the city
  12. ^ "City Hall". Retrieved 25 October 2018.
Panoramic view of the entrance hall

External linksEdit

Coordinates: 53°20′38″N 6°16′02″W / 53.344012°N 6.26725°W / 53.344012; -6.26725