In 2012, the GAA Museum commissioned Turtle to produce a book called ‘Dublin from the Etihad Skyline.’ Beautifully illustrated, the book showcased the best of the Irish capital by providing short insights into 32 landmarks visible from the rooftop of Croke Park Stadium.
It is said that if you really want to understand a people’s history, you should wander through their graveyard. Established in 1832, the Glasnevin Cemetery offers a remarkable and poignant opportunity to see the burial place of many of Ireland’s most influential political patriots, as well as sporting, literary and music icons. Glasnevin’s 51-metre Round Tower – the highest in Ireland – was built with granite hewn from the Wicklow Mountains. It stands directly over the crypt of Daniel O’Connell, the Catholic Emancipator, who masterminded this 124-acre “city of the dead”. It was one of the first cemeteries in Ireland where Catholics could be buried with a Catholic service. The primary function of the castellated towers set upon the high walls was so night-watchmen could keep an eye on potential corpse robbers working for Dublin’s medical schools. Bloodhounds were also on standby. It was clearly effective; there are no records of any corpses ever being stolen from Glasnevin.
NATIONAL BOTANIC GARDENS & HERBARIUM
Situated on the eastern flank of Glasnevin Cemetery, running along the floodplain of the River Tolka, Ireland’s oldest botanic gardens were designed and planted by the Dublin Society during the golden age of the 1790s. Fifty years later, this was where the infection that caused the Great Famine was first identified. Today, the 48-acre gardens are home to over 20,000 living plants, many of them rare, while the National Herbarium holds some 750,000 pressed plants collected since the Georgian Age. The restoration of both the Palm House and the pioneering wrought iron curvilinear glasshouses by Victorian designer Richard Turner have earned many coveted conservation architecture awards, including two from the Europa Nostra, the pan-European Federation for Cultural Heritage.
THE DUBLIN-SLIGO RAILWAY LINE
Running directly along the side of Croke Park, the railway line was originally part of the Midland & Great Western Railway that ran from Dublin all the way to the port of Sligo in north-west Ireland. Work commenced in 1845, the first year of the Great Famine, and the line was built alongside the Royal Canal. By the time it reached Sligo in 1862, its branch lines crossed thirteen Irish counties, linking towns such as Galway, Westport, Athlone and Mullingar. The MGWR’s locomotives, originally emerald green, noisily introduced the possibilities of the industrial age to rural Ireland and the impact was immense. Hundreds of thousands of country people soon availed of this fast new connection to the capital city; many of them never went home. In 1924, the MGWR became a constituent of the Great Southern Railway.
In 1789, the most enterprising Irish Parliament of the 18th century authorised the construction of the Royal Canal. By 1803, the engineers had carved their way through the misty slobs of Dublin’s Docklands, connecting the canal from Kilcock to the River Liffey (and the Irish Sea beyond). In 1807 a regular boat service began operating along the Royal Canal from Dublin to Mullingar. Ten years later, the inland waterway celebrated its breakthrough connection with the River Shannon at Cloondara, County Longford. In 1845 the Midland & Great Western Railway Company (MGWR) purchased the Royal Canal and subsequently laid the tracks for the Dublin to Mullingar line alongside it. The Royal Canal was closed to navigation in 1961 but the full length between Dublin and the River Shannon officially reopened in 2010.
And the auld triangle went jingle jangle,
All along the banks of the Royal Canal.
Dominic Behan (c. 1954)
‘I was there once myself, so I’m able to tell, there’s no digs in Dublin like the Mountjoy Hotel.’ Or so declared the Dublin songwriter Dominic Behan of the medium-security prison known as ‘The Joy’. Originally built as a block of 500 single-occupancy cells, it was designed as a short-stay depot for Australia-bound convicts. With the end of transportation, it became a state prison and many icons of the War of Independence were held here, including Patrick Nally, the co-founder of the Irish Athletics Committee, for whom the Nally Stand at Croke Park is named. The Republican playwright Brendan Behan, brother of Dominic, was imprisoned here for his IRA activities during the Second World War, or ‘the Emergency’ as it was known in Ireland. The gaol inspired Behan’s acclaimed 1954 play ‘The Quare Fellow’ which looks at events in a fictional prison in the run up to the execution of an inmate. Mountjoy Gaol presently has a capacity of 755.
In the early 18th century, the northern shores of the River Liffey comprised of little more than mudflats and marshy meadow. All this changed when Dublin banker Luke Gardiner purchased a huge swathe of land running from present-day Smithfield to the Custom House. Under his supervision, the development of the city’s north side got underway. Two generations later, his grandson, the 2nd Viscount Mountjoy, commissioned the construction of Mountjoy Square, built on a small summit so that all four redbrick streets run downhill. The neoclassical plasterwork within some of these houses is amongst the finest in the world. Viscount Mountjoy was one of the most outspoken critics of the Penal Laws in the Irish Parliament but he was killed at the battle of New Ross during the 1798 Rebellion. Many of the scenes from the 2007 Oscar-winning film ‘Once’ were filmed in Mountjoy Square, soaking up its historic ambience of ornate streetlamps, coal covers and granite pavements.
ST MICHAN’S CHURCH
Originally founded by Vikings in 1095, the chapel at St. Michan’s was the only parish church in Dublin on the north side of the River Liffey for nearly five hundred years. The present building dates to 1686 and was restored in 1998. Handel is said to have played on its marvellous organ, which is one of the oldest in Ireland. The church is legendary in the annals of Dublin as the resting place of the so-called Mummies. A narrow stairway leads to the vaults where the coffins are racked up along the exceptionally dry limestone walls, some private and sealed up, others cracked open so that the leathery skin and bones are exposed for all to view. Highlights include the Shearer brothers who were hung, drawn and quartered after the 1798 Rebellion and a man known as the Crusader whose legs were reputedly broken so that he could fit into his coffin. The church was badly damaged when the nearby Four Courts was shelled at the start of the Irish Civil War.
Phoenix Park is one of Dublin’s finest assets, a 1752-acre playground that sprawls upon the north side of the River Liffey boasting nearly thirty sporting pitches. Few cities in the world boast such a massive public recreational wonderland. The park was originally designed as a deer sanctuary by the Great Duke of Ormonde, an enlightened 17th century Viceroy, and opened to the public in 1745. Its historic buildings include Áras an Uachtaráin (formerly home to the British Viceroy and now the residence of the President of Ireland), the United States Ambassador’s residence and Farmleigh (the former Guinness family home which is now the Irish state’s principal base for entertaining foreign dignitaries). Many of the trees date to the mid-18th century but in 1985, a further 10,000 oak, ash, horse chestnut, lime, beech and sycamore trees were planted.
Completed in 1861, the 203-foot tall Wellington Monument commemorates the military achievements of Dublin-born Arthur Wellesley, the famous Duke of Wellington. Best known as the victor of Waterloo, the Iron Duke was also the serving British Prime Minister when Catholic Emancipation came into force in 1829. It is the largest obelisk in Europe and would have been even higher if the publicly subscribed funding had not run out. A series of bronze plaques around the obelisk depict scenes from the Duke’s life and were cast from French canons captured at Waterloo.
NATIONAL MUSEUM OF IRELAND – DECORATIVE ARTS & HISTORY
The bulk of Ireland’s outstanding collection of decorative arts and historical artefacts are housed in Collins Barracks on the north side of the River Liffey. The barracks, one of the oldest in Europe, were built for the British in 1700 and handed over to the Irish Free State in December 1922. They were renamed Collins Barracks after Michael Collins, the former commander-in-chief, who had been assassinated earlier that year. For seventy years the barracks were home to units of the Eastern Command of the Irish Defence Forces. In 1997, the National Museum of Ireland moved it and completely renovated the place. Thirteen long galleries now house an impressive collection of musical instruments, silverware, costume, ceramics, glassware, graphic art, Irish period furniture and military memorabilia. The collection also includes a number of GAA trophies and medals including the first All-Ireland Football Championship medal of 1887 and Austin Stack’s gold medal from 1905.
There are few more sombrely iconic buildings in Ireland than Kilmainham Gaol. The atmosphere still throbs with the memories of those incarcerated here during the long battle for Irish independence. These dark, claustrophobic cells were built just in time to house Henry Joy McCracken and Napper Tandy, two ring-leaders of the 1798 Rebellion. In the 18th century, its inmates included Robert Emmet and Charles Stewart Parnell, as well as most of the leaders of the Young Ireland rebellion of 1848 and the Fenian Rising of 1867.
Fourteen of the sixteen men executed after the Easter Rebellion of 1916 were shot in the Stonebreakers Yard, as were the first four republican prisoners executed during the Irish Civil War. When the Free State government closed the gaol in 1924, its last prisoner was Eamon de Valera who later became both Taoiseach and President of Ireland. Restored in the 1960s, the prison now operates as a popular museum and has featured in movies such as The Italian Job, In the Name of the Father and Michael Collins.
IRISH MUSEUM OF MODERN ART
Better known as IMMA, the Irish Museum of Modern Art has been the bedrock of contemporary and modern art in Ireland since it opened in 1991. The collection is located within the long 17th century corridors of the Royal Hospital, Kilmainham, which like Les Invalides in Paris or the Royal Hospital Chelsea in London, was built as a retirement home for war veterans. The original stables have been restored, extended and converted into artists’ studios.
Amongst IMMA’s most successful exhibitions are internationally acclaimed artists Andy Warhol, Gilbert and George, Lucian Freud, Howard Hodgkin, Georgia O’Keeffe, Frida Kahlo and Diego Rivera, as well as Irish artists James Coleman, Dorothy Cross, Alice Maher, and Tony O’Malley. Successful group exhibitions have included ‘The Moderns’, the most extensive exhibition to date from the Museum’s own Collection, and ‘Picturing New York’, an exhibition from the photographic collection of The Museum of Modern Art (MoMA) in New York.
The Dublin Mountains, which amalgamate with the Wicklow Mountains, are a walker’s paradise, formed from a massive granite ridge pushed up when three ancient continents collided just over 400 million years ago. The last ice age carved a series of valleys, lakes and passes into the mountains through which such rivers as the Liffey, Slaney, Dargle and Avoca now run. The highest of the 39 peaks is Lugnaquilla at 3,035 feet. Many of these summits are home to megalithic monuments such as passage graves and ringforts, while St. Kevin’s Round Tower in the glacial valley of Glendalough was one of the most iconic centres of Christendom during the Dark Ages. Following the Anglo-Norman invasion in the late 12th century, the mountains became the refuge of rebel clans who continued to harass and torment the colonial headquarters in Dublin until the wake of the Emmet Rebellion of 1803 when a new Military Road and several barracks were built in the mountains.
THE GUINNESS STOREHOUSE
It’s arguable that Arthur Guinness has made more of an impact on the world than any other Irishmen. In 1759, he famously and brilliantly secured a 9,000 year lease on a small, disused and ill-equipped brewery at St James’s Gate, Dublin, for an annual rent of £45. By 1794, Guinness’s black stout, or porter, was flowing in taverns across Britain while Arthur himself became official brewer to Dublin Castle, the seat of government in Ireland. By 1840, you could drink the celebrated black stout in Trinidad, Sierra Leone, Barbados and New York. And by 1855, Arthur’s grandson, Sir Benjamin Lee Guinness, was the richest man in Ireland. In the late 19th century, the Guinness labourers formed a Gaelic Football team called Young Irelands. They won the All-Ireland championships five times during the 1890s. A century later, Guinness capitalized on the brewery’s fame by converting William Arrol’s original steel-framed fermentation plants into a seven-storey Storehouse capped by a glass atrium shaped in the form of a pint of Guinness.
CHESTER BEATTY LIBRARY
Born in New York in 1875, the industrialist and philanthropist Sir Alfred Chester Beatty made his fortune as a hugely successful mining consultant before the First World War. Over the course of his life he built up an extraordinary collection of Persian, Islamic, Japanese and Chinese art and books. During the Second World War, he provided vital raw materials for the Allies, for which he was knighted. He moved to Shrewsbury Road, Dublin, in 1954 and became an honorary citizen of Ireland in 1957. Upon his death in 1968, he bequeathed his priceless library to a trust for the benefit of the public. Now housed in the Chester Beatty Library at Dublin Castle, the collection includes Egyptian papyrus texts, illuminated Bibles and Qur’ans, medieval and renaissance manuscripts, Turkish and Persian miniature paintings, Japanese scrolls and woodblock prints, Chinese dragon robes and many other remarkable works of art.
GENERAL POST OFFICE
Completed in 1818 Dublin’s GPO, headquarters of the Irish Post Office, was built of local granite with a portico of Portland stone. On Easter Monday 1916, Pádraig Pearse and James Connolly occupied the Greek Revival masterpiece with a small contingent of men and women, and so began the GPO’s status as one of the most iconic buildings in Ireland. It was from the GPO that Pearse first read the Proclamation of the Irish Republic and from here that he and his men evacuated as the building collapsed in flames around them. The GPO was subsequently rebuilt and formally reopened in 1929. It continues to operate as a post office today and contains a museum that explores the evolution of the Post Office over the past 400 years.
The 121.2 metre metal Spire, officially called ‘The Monument of Life’, is the world’s tallest sculpture and was completed in 2003 for a cost of €4 million. It occupies the exact site of Nelson’s Pillar, a 121-foot high Doric column commemorating Britain’s Admiral Nelson’s victory at Trafalgar. In 1966, the pillar was blown up by a socialist splinter group of the Irish Republican Army. A folk song called ‘Up Went Nelson’ went to the top of the Irish music charts soon afterwards and remained No. 1 for eight consecutive weeks.
Looking rather more like a Georgian mansion, Dublin Castle occupies the site of a rather more typical Norman castle, originally built for Robin Hood’s arch-enemy, King John, which had all but disappeared by the 1680s. A solitary tower is all that survives of the medieval fortress above ground, but more extensive remains of the castle can still be seen underground. The bulk of the present-day ‘castle’ dates to the 18th and 19th centuries when Bedford Tower, with a balcony for state musicians, became the centrepiece of the Great Courtyard. The castle was home to the British Viceroy for a period but became better known as the headquarters of British rule, particularly during the Irish War of Independence. In 1922, it was formally handed over to Michael Collins and the new Free State government. Today, the castle provides visitor access to the original walls and foundations, as well as holding various historic collections.
ST. PATRICK’S CATHEDRAL
Ireland’s largest cathedral is sited by a holy well in Dublin where Saint Patrick is said to have baptised the first Irish Christians. The first stone church was built here in 1192 and developed into a cathedral soon afterwards. Three hundred years later this was where the Earl of Kildare thrust his arm through a hole in the door, calling for a truce with the Earl of Ormond, in 1492; giving rise to the phrase ‘chancing your arm’. The church was considerably plundered and damaged during the 16th and 17th centuries, not least when Oliver Cromwell stabled his horses in the nave. The cathedral was subsequently restored and enjoyed a golden age when Jonathan Swift, author of ‘Gulliver’s Travels’, was its Dean from 1713 to 1745. During the 1860s, the brewing magnate Benjamin Lee Guinness expended a fortune renovating the building, and is recalled today by a statue in the grounds. The funerals of Irish Presidents Douglas Hyde and Erskine Childers took place in the Cathedral in the 20th century.
CHRIST CHURCH CATHEDRAL
Located in the heart of medieval Dublin, close to the original Viking stronghold of Wood Quay, Christ Church has been welcoming Christians for over a thousand years. It was founded by the Hiberno-Norse king Sitric Silkenbeard, a stepson of Brian Boru, shortly after his return from a pilgrimage to Rome in 1028. In the 12th century, Bishop Laurence O’Toole, later Dublin’s patron saint, converted it into an Augustinian priory. A penitent Henry II of England received communion here, his first since ordering the murder of Thomas à Becket, Archbishop of Canterbury. The Anglo-Norman knight Strongbow subsequently paid for the conversion of the wooden original into a stone church. In 1487, the cathedral was the setting for the coronation of Lambert Simnel, a humble youngster whom the FitzGerald family unsuccessfully sought to put on the English throne. By the time it became a cathedral in 1539, Christ Church was the wealthiest priory in Ireland, holding over 10,000 acres in County Dublin alone. This epic building was considerably restored at the expense of whiskey magnate Henry Roe in the 1870s.
THE FOUR COURTS
In the 1770s, the Dublin Parliament commissioned the construction of four courts for the Chancery, Exchequer, King’s Bench and Common Pleas. Designed by architect Thomas Cooley and completed by James Gandon, these courts were set into a building at the centre of two distinct quadrangles. Its physical and spiritual centre was the Round Hall, 64 ft in diameter, featuring inner and outer domes and a surround of Corinthian columns. The King’s Inns and the Public Records Office were also built here during this period. The latter was destroyed during the Irish Civil War, along with the complete records of the Irish Parliament, the original wills of countless Irish testators from the 16th century, and the registers of hundreds of Irish parishes. The famous Round Hall dome was also badly damaged in the attack but was successfully restored soon afterwards.
TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN
Founded in 1592 on the instruction of Queen Elizabeth, Trinity College has been one of the world’s most prestigious universities for over 400 years. Its’ alumni include many of Ireland’s literary greats – Jonathan Swift, George Berkeley, Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker, Samuel Beckett, Anne Enright, Sebastian Barry, Eoin Colfer and Sally Rooney – as well as many of the country’s finest politicians, businessmen, scientists and journalists. The college was originally Protestant but, while Catholics and Dissenters were permitted to enter from 1793, Catholics were prohibited from attending without permission from the Bishop up until 1970. Women were first admitted to the college in 1904. Located in the very centre of Dublin City, the college presently has approximately 16,000 students and 4,500 staff. Within these hallowed grounds can be found many remarkable works, including the celebrated Book of Kells, an epic, illuminated, 9th century version of the Gospels of the New Testament that is considered Ireland’s most valuable national treasure.
THE GREAT SUGAR LOAF
Nobody ever describes a pile of sugar as a loaf. But that’s precisely what occurred to somebody long ago when they were looking to name the isolated 501-metre conical hill that overlooks Bray, some 17 miles from Dublin city centre. Clad in heather and lichen, this imposing, steep-sloped quartzite hill has been known as the Sugar Loaf since at least the 1640s when the Dutch physician Gerard Boate passed through the area. A favourite of landscape and maritime artists alike, it commands a remarkably fine view, encompassing the Irish Sea, the Wicklow Mountains and the ancient wooded valley of the Glen of the Downs. To the east of the Great Sugar Loaf is the Little Sugar Loaf, with its distinctive rocky double summit.
Set against the backdrop of the Dublin Mountains, the Aviva Stadium (formerly Lansdowne Road) is the home ground of Ireland’s rugby and football teams, and regularly hosts contests that are local, national, European and occasionally global. The 2010-built stadium occupies the site of the celebrated Lansdowne Road stadium, originally designed in 1872 as a multi sports venue with a cinder track for athletics, a cricket pitch, a croquet green, three pitches and facilities for archery and lawn tennis. The first rugby match played at the ground was an inter provincial between Leinster and Munster in 1876, and it’s been the home of Irish rugby ever since. The pitch occupies land reclaimed from the River Dodder shortly after the end of World War One, in which many key members of the Irish rugby community perished. While the Aviva Stadium was under construction, all the rugby and soccer matches were played at Croke Park. The stadium also serves as a concert venue for artists such as Harry Styles, Rihanna, Neil Diamond and Madonna.
The International Financial Services Centre was the brainchild of businessman Dermot Desmond who persuaded then Taoiseach Charles Haughey to create a new financial hub in the hitherto rundown Custom House Docks that ran alongside the River Liffey in Dublin’s Docklands. Completed by 1991, the IFSC’s three state-of-the-art glazed blocks swiftly became key symbols for the regeneration of the entire Docklands, as well as a major public statement of a new era in Ireland’s economic development. Allied Irish Bank and the Bank of Ireland established headquarters at the IFSC while an extremely favourable corporation tax rate of 10% also drew major international players such as the international giant Citibank who arrived in 1992. Suddenly bankers, solicitors, accountants, insurance firms, publishers and taxation advisers all wanted to be a part of it. Today, the IFSC employs over 42,000 people in over 500 internationally and Irish owned cross border financial services, including over half the world’s top 50 leading financial institutions.
SAMUEL BECKETT BRIDGE
From the stadium, we can see the silvery back of the Convention Centre, Kevin Roche’s innovative 2010 construction, standing alongside the Samuel Beckett Bridge, with the new Grand Canal Theatre, Millennium Tower and Boland’s Mills gathered nearby. This is the heart of the Docklands, an area that was substantially redeveloped during the early years of this century. The 120-metre cable-stayed Samuel Beckett Bridge was designed by the elite Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, who also built the James Joyce Bridge further upriver. Its curved steel pylon gives it the dramatic appearance of a harp lying on its side. This pylon also houses a rotation mechanism that allows the bridge to open for maritime traffic. The bridge is named for the avant-garde Dublin-born playwright Samuel Beckett, winner of the 1969 Nobel Prize in Literature and author of such works as ‘Waiting for Godot’ and ‘Krapp’s Last Tape’.
DÚN LAOGHAIRE HARBOUR
In the 5th century AD, this was the stronghold of Lóegaire, High King of Ireland, a famous adversary of St. Patrick. By 1800, his fort had all but disappeared and the area was inhabited by a small community of fishermen, with a salt mine nearby. During the Napoleonic Wars, two Martello Towers were built here in order to defend against a possible French invasion. Work began on creating this new harbour in 1815. Dún Laoghaire was renamed Kingstown six years later when portly King George IV sailed out in his Royal yacht; the town resumed its original name under the Irish Free State in 1921. The harbour has had an epic history, not least as the place where countless convicts, soldiers and emigrants bound for foreign shores took their last step on Irish soil. In 1834, residents of Kingstown became amongst the first people in Ireland to have a public railway with the opening of a 12km line north along the coast to Dublin. Dún Laoghaire now boasts an 820-berth marina and six yacht clubs.
THE POOLBEG PENINSULA
Much of the Poolbeg peninsula has only been reclaimed in the past forty years. Development commenced in 1899 when Dublin Corporation began converting Pigeon House Fort, a former British Army stronghold, into a centre for ‘extending and improving the electrical lighting of the city’. By the 1960s this had evolved into the Poolbeg Generating Station, widely known as the Pigeon House, with its distinctive candy-striped chimneys. The peninsula is home to the Great South Wall, one of the best-constructed breakwaters of its kind. Made of slab upon slab of granite, it extends from Ringsend for nearly 6.5 km into Dublin Bay, shielding the Liffey channel from the massive breakers that swoosh in during stormy tides. Connected to the Poolbeg lighthouse in 1796, it now offers a much-treasured 40-minute stroll in which catfish, seals, herons, terns, curlews, cormorants, Brent geese and black guillemots are all to be seen.
THE CUSTOM HOUSE
In the 18th century, the Dublin elite decided to build a new Custom House on a tidal swamp along the north shore of the river, closer to the mouth of the River Liffey. The neo-classical masterpiece was designed by the English architect, James Gandon and opened for business in 1791. It only enjoyed nine years of prosperity before the Irish Parliament voted itself out of existence and Dublin’s Golden Age came to an end. It stumbled uncertainly through the 19th century and became a notorious meeting place for spies and informers before and during the War of Independence. In 1921, in one of the last acts before the Truce, the building was torched by the Irish Republican Army – the copper dome melted, the stonework cracked and many invaluable historical documents were lost to the flames. The Free State government commissioned a restoration in the 1920s. The revival of the Docklands over the past 25 years has certainly reinstated its place as one of Dublin’s very finest civic buildings.
THE HOWTH PENINSULA
When the ancient Egyptian cartographer Ptolemy sketched his map of the known world some 1900 years ago, he sketched the Howth Head peninsula on the north side of Dublin Bay as an island. In the ensuing centuries, sands deposited by the present village of Sutton created a land bridge which connected Howth to the mainland. The terrain embraces gentle heather-clad hills and dramatic cliffs, as well as 570 acres of conserved land, much if it bog and yellow gorse. This is where Leopold Bloom proposed to Molly in James Joyce’s Ulysses. The charming village of Howth, with its enclosed harbour and lighthouse, is located on the north side of the peninsula with two islands, Ireland ’s Eye (a bird sanctuary) and Lambey Island just off shore. The Bailey Lighthouse stands on the rocky southeast tip, guiding ships through these foggy waters. Aideen’s Grave, a huge, semi-collapsed dolmen, or ancient burial site, can be found in the grounds of Howth Castle, home to the St. Lawrence family for an astonishing 835 years.
Croke Park is the headquarters of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Ireland’s largest sporting and cultural organisation promoting the country’s unique national games of hurling and Gaelic football. The stadium is named in honour of Archbishop Thomas Croke, one of the founding members of the GAA in 1884. The first Gaelic games were played at Croke Park in the 1890s and today it hosts games throughout the year, culminating each September with the All-Ireland finals.
On 21 November 1920, Croke Park was the scene of one of the most significant events during the Irish War of Independence. During a football match, British forces entered the stadium and opened fire. In all, 14 people died, including Tipperary player Michael Hogan. The event became known as Bloody Sunday. In 1925, a new stand was named in honour of Michael Hogan.
The stadium was considerably redeveloped in the 1990s to become one of the largest in Europe. With a capacity of 82,300, it has hosted international rugby and soccer matches, concerts and the opening and closing ceremonies for the 2003 Special Olympics World Summer Games. In May 2011, Queen Elizabeth II of Britain was welcomed to Croke Park during an historic state visit, the first ever visit by a British Head of State to the Republic of Ireland.
THE CHQ BUILDING
Now home to Epic, the award-winning Irish Emigration Museum, the CHQ was originally constructed as a massive bonded warehouse, measuring 155 by 55 yards and comprising a footprint of circa 1.8 acres, where tobacco, wines and spirits could be stored while awaiting assessment for import duties by the customs officers from the nearby Custom House. Built between 1817 and 1820, the building was Ireland’s first completely iron- roofed warehouse. It was designed by John Rennie, one of the pre-eminent civil engineers of the Georgian Age, and completed by his equally accomplished fellow Scot, Thomas Telford.
Formerly known as Stack A, the warehouse formed part of a major complex built to the east of the Custom House between 1815 and 1823 that also included George’s Dock, the Inner Dock and two more warehouses for the Commissioners of Excise and Customs.
One of CHQ’s most exceptional features, attributed to Rennie’s son George, was its elaborate use of cast- and wrought-iron roof girders, columns and trusses, ensuring that the building was fireproof, a vital characteristic given that one of its functions was to store highly inflammable tobacco imports. A basement of barrel-vaulted chambers, composed of limestone and brickwork, was constructed under the floor to store wines and spirits while internal illumination was provided by a series of roof lanterns at the apex of the roofs.