I am unable to resist posting a few photos, showing some of my own highlights Open House Dublin 2106..
Saturday: First to the lovely Art Deco Kodak factory in Rathmines. (original building 1930, by Donnelly, Moore and Keatinge) Unfortunately access was unexpectedly denied for the planned tour on Saturday morning of the interior. But we still enjoyed the discussion outside by Craig, from Paul Keogh architects, the practice who converted the factory into offices during the 1990s.
we to another visit just a hundred yards away, at the new Military archives at Cathal Brugha Barracks, Rathmines. This was very exciting for me, as an avid researcher, who had made much use- this year in particular- of the online 1916 Witness Statements for example- which are kept here and digitized here.
Designed by McCullagh Mulvill acchitects, using international archiving, conservation and fire proofing best practice throughout, this is a first class 21st century conservation and archival resource, with several members of the army working on it full time. The army officer who gave the talk was very impressive, clearly aware of the huge value of the collection. This includes the 1916 witness statements, the equally detailed pension statements and the Ministry of Defense records, (subject to the 30-year rule) All of it an essential record, in other words for present and future researchers and historians.
Next on Saturday I attended a walking tour with Frank McDonald, well known as the former long serving environmental editor of the Irish Times for many years and for his many books. Frank, a long term resident of Temple Bar, treated us to a insider and residents’ view of the area, from its development in the 1990s, its many well known contemporary and historic buildings, and to the long running disputes with noisy bars and night clubs!
Just time for one more tour. Guided by a fortuitously-timed tweet by the Department of Foreign Affairs, I then found myself on a nice walkabout of their spectacular home, Iveagh House on Stephens Green. The core of this huge mansion was an original 18th century townhouse designed around 1736-37 by the renowned Georgian architect Richard castle, for the Bishop of Cork, Robert Clayton. But a later, 19th century owner, of even greater wealth, Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, (later Lord Iveagh) vastly expanded the house, buying, modifying and expanding into the adjoining houses, working with his architect James Franklin Fuller (Kylemore Abbey, Ashford Castle, Parknasilla and Farmleigh) to create the sort of plutocratic mansion rarely seen outside of the late 19th century and early 20th century American super rich (Astor, Carnegie, Vanderbilt types) and I suspect, unique in Ireland. Her are some details of the wood paneled library, which of course had a secret door leading to a secret spiral staircase) and of the large ballroom.
But the most jaw dropping single element of the whole, extraordinary ensemble is the hallway and staircase, the whole thing walled in alabaster and Algerian topaz. Mind boggling.
Sunday: I was keen to see inside this house again. (I was lucky enough to get a private tour a couple of year back, when it was still being made and still a building site inside)
It is the the Kearney House, just off the main road Ranelagh, by Tom Maher, (who I think I’m right in saying used to work with Tom de Paor) It would have been great to see the house complete. Unfortunately around 80 people had had the exact same idea and they were only puting 8 people on each tour. So the long queue defeated us!
Instead we decided to hop in the car and drive to Beggars Bush end of Haddington Road, There, on a quiet side lane, we found this beautiful little contemporary Mews style house, (below) by Darragh Brenthnach. I loved the simplicity of the design, the flow of space upstairs, the use of wood throughout, and, especially, all the light coming from almost every angle.
After another forlorn attempt to get into another very popular building, the AirB&B HQ on Hanover Quay, also with a huge queue outside, we had to give up again and console ourselves with coffee nearby.
I then went on a wild goose chase, going the whole length of the river from the diving bell on John Rogerson Quay right down to Hueston Station, trying to catch up with a walking tour that was somewhere on the Liffey exploring Dublin bridges! Unsuprisingly, given the needle i haystack nature of this msssion, I never quite found them.
Instead I ducked into Collins barracks for another look at their 1916 Proclaiming a Republic exhibition. Although I’d been before, and although I used to live just off Arbour Hill, near the church (and knew perfectly well who was buried there) I hadn’t noticed before that, as you approach the entrance to the exhibition , you can just see, on the hill behind it, the spire of the church where the men who actually proclaimed the Republic are buried. That is what I call site-specific.
And from there, it was a very nice walk down Benburb Street, (surely now one of the most interesting stretches of Dublin) to another 1916 Exhibition. I’d won tickets from Open House to the new museum at the GPO. The museum space, by Kavanagh Tuite architects, involved restoring the surrounding walls of the huge interior east courtyard, (below) and making two new additions on either side of it, while also raising the level of the whole courtyard to allow for the new museum below. It was all very interesting to see, and our architect-guide was very nice and did a very good job of explaining the design brief and the whole approach behind the finished build. As well as loving history, I’m also very interested in museum design and even in interested in commemoration as a topic in itself, so I’ve been curious to see this museum and I was very glad to see it all on Open House.
And that was it, for another year. Yet again Open House came up trumps, one of my very favourite weekends of the whole year. Thank you to the IAF, all their guides and volunteers, all the owners and institutions who opened their doors, and all the architects and others who give up their time. It is wonderful. Thank you.
I’ll be back doing my own Dublin Decoded walking tours of Dublin from next week. So it was lovely to get a break and let somebody else do the talking! Thank you again OHD. And see you again next year.
Photos by Arran Henderson