Essential Architecture-  Ireland

Custom House


James Gandon


Ireland > County Cork > Dublin






cost £200,000 to build — a huge sum at the time. The four facades of the building are decorated with coats-of-arms and ornamental sculptures representing Ireland's rivers.


  The south facade of the Custom House by night
The Custom House is a neoclassical 18th century building in Dublin, Ireland which houses the Department of Environment, Heritage and Local Government. It is located on the north bank of the River Liffey, on Custom House Quay between Butt Bridge and Talbot Memorial Bridge.

It was designed by James Gandon to act as the new custom house for Dublin Port.

As the port of Dublin moved further downriver, the building's original use for collecting custom duties became obsolete, and it was used as the headquarters of local government in Ireland. During the Anglo-Irish War in 1921, the Irish Republican Army burnt down the Custom House, in an attempt to disrupt British rule in Ireland. Gandon's original interior was completely destroyed in the fire and the central dome collapsed. A large quantity of irreplaceable historical records were also destroyed in the fire, including parish records of Irish births, marriages and deaths going back in some cases to the Middle Ages. Despite achieving its objectives, the attack on the Custom House was a disaster for the IRA because a large number of its members were captured fleeing the scene.

After the Anglo-Irish Treaty, it was restored by the Irish Free State government. The results of this reconstruction can still be seen on the building's exterior today — the dome was rebuilt using Irish Ardbraccan limestone which is noticeably darker than the Portland stone used in the original construction.