During my latest trip to Ireland with work, a couple of weeks ago, I caught an early fast ferry arriving early afternoon, so took the opportunity to spend a few hours in Dublin. I called into the National Gallery to revisit a couple of the exhibitions taking place there, but as the weather was fine and sunny, I took the opportunity to pass some time wandering round the Georgian streets and squares on the South Side.
Fitzwilliam Square, which is to the south of Merrion Square, probably gives the best impression of what residential streets used to be like when the houses were first built. The houses on all four sides of the square are in good condition, although these days they seem to have been converted into flats or used for commercial or other non-residential purposes – the Irish branches of the Goethe Institute and the Italian Cultural Institute are based here.
I found he following information in a brochure about the square, an Architectural Conservation Area, issued by Dublin City Council
The Square was managed and developed on the land of Richard Fitzwilliam, 7th Viscount Fitzwilliam, hence the name and was built on Baggotrath, bounded by two of the three ancient routes leading southwards out of the city, the Beggars Bush Road and the road to Donnybrook (Leeson St), with the third highway (later Baggot St) meandering through the centre of the area, dominated by Baggotrath Castle.
Fitzwilliam Square was designed from 1789 and laid out in 1792. The centre of the square was enclosed in 1813 through an Act of Parliament.
Lord Fitzwilliam, who issued the leases, ensured that buildings were built in a uniform manner through strict conditions and controls within the lease. This was a challenge as there were a variety of different builders / owners within the square. The leases would set out the height and number of stories permitted, type of windows suitable and front façade materials allowable. The terms of the leases ensured that the exteriors represented a strong uniform typical Georgian elevation.
There’s a very pleasant park in the centre of the square. But it’s fenced off and the gates locked and only accessible to residents.
I sneaked some photographs through the railings
This is exactly how it used to be in Georgian times, unlike other squares in Dublin where central gardens have been converted into public parks.
Famous residents have included the Irish artist, Jack B Yeats
who lived at this house, No. 18, on the south east corner