City Hall, Dublin

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City Hall, Dublin
Halla na Cathrach, Baile Átha Cliath
Dublin City Hall 2018a.jpg
Dublin City Hall from Cork Hill
Former namesThe Royal Exchange
General information
AddressDame Street, 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
Architect(s)Thomas Cooley

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. Originally used by the merchants of the city, it is today the formal seat of Dublin City Council.


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

City Hall is located on a slope on Dame Street, at the southern end of Parliament Street, on Dublin's southern side. It stands in front of part of Dublin Castle, the centre of British government in Ireland until 1922.


Floor mosaic showing city arms and motto

The building occupied the site of what was formerly Cork House, the home of the Earl of Cork until his death in 1643, as well as Lucas’s Coffee-House.[1]

Parliament Street had been laid-out in 1753,[2] providing a continuation of Capel Street on the north bank of the Liffey, across the newly widened Essex Bridge.[3] 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.[4]

The function of the building was to act as a form of stock exchange and to provide a meeting place for Dublin's businessmen. It was also close to the old Custom House 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 (at the current headquarters of the Irish Georgian Society, formerly Dublin's 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, Dublin Corporation bought the Royal Exchange and converted it for use by the city government. The changes included construction of partitions around the ambulatory, the addition 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] 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.[9]


Main entrance to Dublin City Hall

The exterior of the building is primarily made out of white Portland stone from a quarry in Dorset.[10] The carved capitals were by Simon Vierpyl, and plasterwork by the stuccodore Charles Thorpe. 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 merchants strolled and discussed business meetings.[10]


Some council meetings take place in City Hall.[11] Dublin Corporation itself was renamed in the early 21st century as Dublin City Council, previously the name of the assembly of councillors only. Most City Council staff work in the newer, brutalist design, Civic Offices, controversially built from 1979 on the site of a national monument, the Viking city foundations on Wood Quay, a short distance away.

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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "The Royal Exchange, now Dublin City Hall | Dublin Castle". Retrieved 16 November 2022.
  2. ^ "NIAH Entry - Parliament Street Medical Practice, Parliament Street, Dublin". National Inventory of Architectural Heritage. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  3. ^ Lennon, Colm (22 January 2009). "Dublin's Civic Buildings in the Early Modern Period". Dublin City Council. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  4. ^ "Thomas Cooley". Dictionary of Irish Architects. Irish Architectural Archive. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  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. ^ County Borough of Dublin (Wards) Regulations 1986 (S.I. No. 12 of 1986). Statutory Instrument of the Government of Ireland. Retrieved 22 October 2015, from Irish Statute Book.
  9. ^ "History of City Hall". Dublin City Council. Retrieved 25 October 2018.
  10. ^ a b "Dublin's City Hall - Story of the Capital (History brochure)" (PDF). Dublin City Council. Retrieved 12 September 2014.
  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.
Stitched panoramic photograph showing the entrance hall of City Hall, Dublin
Panoramic view of the entrance hall

External links[edit]

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