The Bank of Ireland
The Bank of Ireland may have an entirely underwhelming name, but this building offers tourism quite a mesmerizing peak into the politically volatile and significant phases of Irish history. The Bank of Ireland is a must visit- it belongs to most historical Dublin attractions. You must have a visit to this building in your itinerary concerning things to do in Dublin. This building is constructed in the Georgian and Greek Revival Style with a massive paladin upfront. But more than the architecture, it is the history of this majestic building that makes it one of the most significant buildings for Dubliners.
What is the Bank of Ireland
The Bank of Ireland is a building located on one side of College Green. This building was the first ever purpose-built Parliament House in the world. It served that purpose for over a century, until the Act of Union made Ireland a part of the United Kingdom in 1800. The significance of this building is highlighted in its role in various movements and various events across Irish history. Let us look at some things that make this building a must-visit destination in Dublin.
Bank Of Ireland Building History
The Bank of Ireland was designed by Edward Lovett Pearce. It was unique and quite revolutionary for its time because Pearce had essentially designed a semi-circular building which was massive enough that it could comfortable host both houses of Parliament. This building is only one of the two purpose built Irish Parliament buildings in history.
During the seventeenth century, the parliament had settled in the Chichester House. This was a town house that belonged to Sir George Carew who was the Lord High Treasure of Ireland. Before the house was built, it used to be a site for a nunnery which was laid to ground by King Henry VIII. However, since this building was not purpose built as a parliament house, its utility was dwindling and also, the parliament would sit in a chapel. It was these factors that necessitated entrusting the designs of a new building to the leading Irish Architect of the era.
The design of the building is unique, and for its time, it was simply revolutionary. Pearce had designed a semi-circular building. The purpose of many if the design features was to make the building imposing and beautiful to the eyes. The building itself spans over 1.5 acres. The entrance too was designed to be as majestic as possible. It was surrounded on three sides by Ionic Columns in the Greek Revival style of building. The portico is a massive segment of the façade of the building, but it is the three statues that will catch the visitors’ eyes. These three statues show Hibernia, Fidelity and Commerce. The entrance also featured a coat of arms, a large-scale design that was cut into stone and it stood over the entrance to the building.
However, Pearce was never around to see his work come to fruition. The design of the primary building and its construction went to his credit, but the extensions were installed and designed by James Gandon. James Gandon was perhaps one of the most influential architects in Irish history and he designed many other buildings of repute and significance. A new entrance: the peers’ entrance was installed on the east of the building. On the western side of the building, a third entrance would later be made, being design by an architect named Robert Parke. It was this contribution of different architectures, that gives the design of the building a unique appearance.
The Parliament Ceremonies and the Abolition
The Irish house of parliament conducted its sessions similar to the British house of Parliament. Interestingly, seasonally, the parliament house also proved to be a boon to the city’s economy. It was because the parliament house attracted wealthy Irishmen from all the Irish lands and also Anglo-Irish ascendancy. To cater to their needs, these individuals had richly houses constructed in the area surrounding the parliament, along the Merrion Square and along the Fitzwilliam Square. There coming and going would be a great blessing to the local businesses.
However, that was soon to end. It was in this building that the Irish parliament was abolished. It was King George III who decided that there should be a radical shift in the relationship between Britain and Ireland. Consequently, in August of 1800, the Parliament held its last session, and after that the states and the parliaments of Ireland and Britain were merged.
The Bank of Ireland Today
Ever since the parliament was abolished, the building was unused until it was purchased by the Bank of Ireland and they built it as their headquarters. However, in 2010, during the banking crisis, the Government of Ireland offered to bailout the bank in return for handing over the building. Ever since then, the building is back in the hands of the government and there are plans to incorporate a museum and a public library in the building as well. This building, after more than 200 years of establishment, is still evolving to cope with changing times. That is why it must be on your list of things to do in Dublin.
Dubliners hold fondness for this building in their hearts. It is packed with symbolism regarding their past, and it holds the memories of some of their heroes. There were multiple attempts to restore this parliament to its original purpose and to restore the house of commons and the parliament. In fact, the sentiment is still shared among many to this day! There is a lot to see on a visit to the Bank of Ireland.
Bank Of Ireland Tours
Address: Bank of Ireland, 2 College Green, Dublin 2, D02 VR66.
Visit the former Irish Houses of Parliament, that was built in 1729.
in 1803 the building was bought by the Bank of Ireland
Access may not be allowed to the House of Lords Chamber due to private functions.
The House of Lords is open to public during banking hours and Dublin historian Sean Ó Laocha does prearranged tours of the chamber on Tuesdays between 10.30am and 12.30pm.