If you are visiting Dublin and are in the vicinity of Dublin Castle, you are very close to the City Hall. This is a great place to visit. It is filled with history and has a great museum on the lower level. We were in a rush when we were here and didn’t allow ourselves enough time. We wanted to get to Dublin Castle for a tour, don’t make the same mistake.
The location of the City Hall was originally a church, Sainte Marie Del Dame. This was demolished by the First Earl of Cork and he built Cork House on the site. The street however became known as Dame Street after the church.
The City Hall itself is a magnificent Georgian Building designed by architect Thomas Cooley for the Guild of Merchants as the Royal Exchange. It was constructed between 1769 and 1779 at a cost of 58,000 pounds much of which was raised by public lotteries. When the Guild of Merchants decided to have a building constructed, they had a competition to determine who would be the architect. Thomas Cooley beat out his main competition James Gandon. Gandon ended up having more of an influence on the architecture of Dublin since he designed the Four Courts after Cooleys death in 1784.
Over the years, the interior of the building suffered at the hands of the Victorians. In 1998 the City Council decided to bring the building back to its Georgian glory and that included the gorgeous rotunda and the lower level.
While the upper building may be wonderful don’t miss the museum called Dublin’s City Hall: The Story of the Capitol on the lower level. You get an audio-guide to help you along and it is a fascinating journey through Ireland’s history and Dublin’s in particular. An immense amount of information is offered here and can take several hours to see and listen to it all.
Artifacts that predate the Norman invasion are on display and a variety of different mediums are used to get the information to you. You get to watch some old films of history being made in Dublin as well as models and costumes. Don’t miss the exhibit that displays the treasures of Dublin, The Great City Sword, The Great Mace and the Lord Mayor’s Chain.
The City Hall is included on the Dublin Pass which will not only get you into 30 of Dublin’s attractions it will let you bypass any lines there might be. Dublin Castle is also on the pass.
City Hall is wheelchair accessible, has a nice gift shop and even a café if you need a snack. It was one of my favorite places to visit in Dublin.