Dublin - Merrion Square Open Day - Exploring Georgian Dublin

The Electricity Supply Board (ESB) sponsored Merrion Square Open Day in conjunction with National Heritage Week on Saturday.  We decided to walk over and check out the festivities.  
We started with a walking tour that departed outside the Irish Georgian Society on Merrion Square South.
Our guide, Conor Lucey, a post-doc in Art History and Cultural Policy at University College Dublin, led a group of about 30 people around the square pointing out the sights and history as we went.  For example, we learned that the windows in these Georgian townhomes were sized according to the importance of that floor of the house in the social life of the residents.  The largest windows (on the first flow above the entrance) lead into the drawing room where guests were entertained.  The main bedrooms were on the second story, and the top floor, or garrett, housed any children and servants.
We learned that the houses were initially built along Merrion Square West.  The construction continued for several decades and became more uniform and visually appealing as time went by.  
Some of the ornaments on the fronts of the homes were added later.  The smaller balconettes were from the Georgian period but this long cast-iron balcony was likely added as a 19th century renonation.
Conor also pointed out that there was no standard width or height to many of the buildings.  Tenants were charged by the street frontage so a 2 bay house would be less expensive than a 3 bay house, etc.
This five bay monster now houses the Irish Archiectural Archive at 45 Merrion Square East and is the largest home on the square.
The plans for this part of town were not very architecturally imaginative.  Here we see the Georgian Mile heading down Merrion Square East toward Leeson St.  It is essentially a line of uninterrupted home after home.
As you can see, Conor held the group's rapt attention throughout.  It was all very fascinating and educational. I'm glad we had a chance to learn more about the buildings that we walk by every day.
After the tour ended, we popped into the Irish Architectural Archive for a brief guided tour.
Inside, we got a glimpse of the more elaborate Georgian interiors that Conor alluded to on our walking tour.
I liked this rather modern twisted metal structure placed in a conference room inside.
The building also featured some of the ornate plasterwork characteristic of the Georgian period.  Here we see a lovely patterned ceiling.
I also liked the view out the first floor window which showcases a more modern view (including the appended elevator shaft for moving records) from the historic building.
The Irish Architectural Archive also features a lovely library that is open to the public (after a brief registration as a reader).
We browsed some of the titles which included Dublin Pub Life and Love, Dublin Slums, and Photography in Ireland.
We continued on to 49 Merrion Square East which is now part of the National University of Ireland.  The distinguishing feature of this townhome is the gorgeous murals upstairs.
I noted several cracks in the plaster. It seems that this house was built last and is wedged between two other structures.  It has settled a bit at different rates on the two sides which has led to some cracking.
St. Stephen's Church was offering a chamber music concert as part of Merrion Square Open Days.  We listened to a few songs played by a flautist and organist.  It was a lovely setting and the music was very well done.
We concluded our adventure with a lecture by Conor Lucey at the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland (RIAI) at 8 Merrion Square North.  This talk centered on Michael Stapleton, one of the renowned stuccodore or plasterworker of the Georgian period.  The RIAI showcased several examples of fine Georgian plasterwork including this border and ceiling decoration.
The furnishings at the RIAI were also in keeping with the period.  I liked this fireplace ornament.
Thanks again to the Electricity Supply Board for sponsoring this great series of events and for giving the public a glimpse into life in Georgian Dublin.

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Sidewalk Safari: Dublin - Merrion Square Open Day - Exploring Georgian Dublin
Dublin - Merrion Square Open Day - Exploring Georgian Dublin
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