The Government Buildings in Dublin are the location of several key offices of the government, all located on Upper Merrion Street. This quadrangle of buildings has borrowed themes from various era of building, but the complex itself is quite recent, being finished on 1922 and is one of the top 10 historical sites in Dublin. Immediately after its construction was completed it was occupied by new Irish Free Government. As one can imagine, there is quite an interesting history attached to the early history of this vast and iconic building.
At certain times of day, the Government Buildings are open to public visits, and here are a few reasons visiting this significant and iconic place is one of the best things to do in Dublin.
The building, destined to be the Government Buildings Complex
was the very last building to be built and established under British rule. It was King George VII, who set the foundation stone for the building. Before this building, the Upper Merrion Street had a row of Georgian houses which were demolished to make room for the new Government Buildings. This was the last building to be built by the British, and the architect was also British. Sir Aston Webb designed this building. He would later be knighted for his services in redesigning the façade of Buckingham Palace. The construction started in 1904 and by 1911, it was ready for occupancy.
The building’s initial intended purpose was to be the Royal College of Science, but by the time that it was finished, it fell under Dublin Castle administration to decide its fate. The Lord Lieutenant chose it to be the meeting place of the new Parliament of Southern Ireland. The State Opening however, was a failure. The House of Commons has many members but only four showed up. As for the Senate of Southern Ireland, it was also represented by a severe minority. 1922, Executive Council of the Irish Free State commandeered a part of the college for office use. Gradually, however, the entire building was transformed for official needs.
Architecture and Design
It is the Edwardian baroque style of architecture that gives this building its unique theme and aura. The building is an architectural marvel, and that is why it should be on of your things to do in Dublin. The building is arranged around a central square quadrangle. This center is also the focal point of the building with its imposing portico. In the spirit of Irish Nationalism, a lot of the materials used to generate the building are Irish. One example is the Wicklow granite used on the exterior. The Portland stone detailing is also made with domestically acquired materials.
Despite its baroque architecture and medieval design, the building features the same steel skeleton and reinforced concrete construction that is used for modern buildings. The design is dramatic, but it does not compromise the safety and the longevity of the buildings in any way. Another thing to admire about the Government Buildings is the marvelous quality of work that has evidently gone in to finish the buildings. From the highest quality of marvels lining the floors to intricate and perfectly sculpted statues that decorate the central space and other spots, every segment of the construction is execute as close to perfection as possible.
Art fans are also in for a treat. The building features very diverse styles of art. Where some places are designed to be monotonous, in lieu with their use as government offices, other areas feature vibrant selection of paintings and artworks. One example would be a majestic luminous Stained-glass window designed by Evie Hone. There are installments designed by Mary FitzGerald. The building also commissioned various artists and design houses to produce some exclusive pieces and articles for the building. One prominent example would be carpets made by Munster Carpets Ltd. All the walls and the rooms which are open to public visit are embellished with paintings from the Office of Public Work Collection. Even the furniture and wood installments are meticulously picked and selected in order to best depict the grandeur and the authority that this building holds.
Government Buildings History
The first ever students of science inhabited the building, its lecture halls and its laboratories in October, 1911. The complex was still under construction at parts, and it would continue to be under construction for the next eleven years. By 1922, just when the Government Buildings were completed, civil unrest has engulfed Dublin. Many of the official buildings across town were destroyed by fires or by angry mobs and the government was in short supply of administrative buildings and department headquarters. The Executive Council, therefore immediately took occupancy of the North Wing. The College was gradually shifted out of this building and moved to Belfield in 1989.
Government Buildings Today
The Government Buildings have evolved greatly over the years. It is now a quadrangle of some major government departments. It is the place where some of the most significant Irish legislative decisions for the past century have been made. Some of the major attraction include:
Address: Government Buildings, Merrion Street Upper, Dublin 2
- Office of Attorney General
Address: Dublin 2,
- Department of Public Expenditure and Reform
Government Buildings Tour
Guided tours of Government Buildings:
take place every Saturday @ 10.30 am 11.30 am 12.30pm, and 13.30pm
Each tour is approximately 40 minutes.
Free tickets are available on the morning of the tours at the National Gallery (open at 9:30 am) on Clare Street entrance. There you’ll meet up with the informative tour guide who will escort you through the buildings.
There is no advanced booking. Please be aware, that due to Government business tours can be cancelled a a short notice. To avoid disappointment call 619 44 11.
It’s a unique opportunity ! Not every country does free tours of Government Buildings including a Prime Minister’s office and President residence. In Dublin it is possible.
Explore the fine rooms including the cabinet room, the thematic art in all the major chambers and halls. It’s a breathtaking insight into Irish History and amazing Art, beautifully combined.
You’ll be blown away by the sense of history, the grandeur and the works of art, the cabinet room, the original 1922 table and Sycamore room, full of beautiful modern art.
See an impressive Barracks Obama’s gift of a Katz ,Oisin Kelly’s miniature bronze replica of his ‘Garden of Remberance’ master piece, Eva Hone’s stained glass and much much more. It’s a must do tour when in Dublin.