Leo Fitzgerald House Hogan Place Erne Street Upper Dublin 2
The second post featuring the work of Herbert Simms following on from O’Carroll Villas.
These homes were named for Civil War hero Leo Fitzgerald.
London born Herbert George Simms was responsible for the building of some 17,000 new working class dwellings in his time in office as Dublin’s pioneering Housing Architect, ranging from beautiful Art Deco flat schemes in the inner-city to new suburban landscapes.
Freestanding L-plan multiple-bay four-storey social housing block, built c. 1940, having attached stairs tower to east elevation. Flat roof concealed behind rendered parapet with concrete coping, and having rendered chimneystacks with concrete copings and clay pots. Flemish bond brown brick and rendered walls. Square-headed window openings with rendered surrounds and sills, and replacement uPVC windows. Square-headed door openings with rendered surrounds and timber doors to galleries. Square-headed door opening in attached stairs tower with mild-steel double-leaf gate, concrete platform and steps.
The brickwork, use of white aggregate for the arches, and tinted glazing are similar to Devane’s Stephen Court building on St Stephen’s Green.
The nine-building Irish Life Centre complex was originally built between 1974 and 1977 comprising office space, as well as two blocks of apartments. The complex was built on the former site of the Brook Thomas warehouse and timber yards along with other adjoining sites costing £900,000.
Irish Life, now part of the Canadian multinational Great-West Lifeco, were the original developers.
The 14-foot copper-bronze sculpture Chariots of Life by Oisín Kelly 1915 – 1981, greets staff and visitors at the entrance plaza. Although completed in 1978, the sculpture was not unveiled formally until 1982.
Inside the Abbey Court Garden there was once a large colourful mosaic, Sweeney Astray – 1987 by Desmond Kinney. The glass mosaic was comprised of twelve panels narrating Sweeney’s wanderings through forests and hills, from prose and poems dating back to the 1600s and updated by Seamus Heaney in the early 1980s.
A truemartyr for the love of his Country and its people, and a true Working Class Hero!
Cllr O’Carroll deserves to be recognised by the State and the People of Ireland for his work with the Labour Party, TheAncient Guild of Brick & Stonelayers Trade Union and most importantly for his contribution to the Freedom of Ireland.
‘Bhí sé dílis dá thír is dá chineál’
‘He loved his country and served his kind’
I came upon these two slab blocks of flats whilst walking the streets of Dublin – this service tower acts as a memorial to his life and achievements.
I was stopped in my tracks when I chanced upon the enchanting mosaics, wrought iron railings and walkups, I stayed a while to take a look around.
This was my first real trip to Dublin, having previously hastily passed through, over eager to take myself elsewhere. To accompany me I purchased The Dublin Architecture Guide 1937-2021 from Books Upstairs. It proved to be an indispensable companion on my walks around the city.
To begin at the end, the last building I explored was the Busáras – the central bus station, for intercity and regional bus services operated by Bus Éireann.
Áras Mhic Dhiarmada – Mac Diarmada House is the official name of the building, which also includes the headquarters of the Department of Social Protection.
CIÉ – parent of Bus Éireann, leases the lower floors from the department.
Áras Mhic Dhiarmada is named after Seán Mac Diarmada, a leader of the Easter Rising in 1916.
The building has an L-shaped plan with two rectilinear blocks of differing heights sitting at right angles, with a circular hall at the ground floor designed in an International Modern style, influenced strongly by Le Corbusier. The British engineer Ove Arup was commissioned to oversee some of the elements of the design, such as the wavy concrete canopy which overhangs the concourse. It was designed to be a multi-functional building, with a restaurant, nightclub, cinema and other services all housed within it. The building incorporated a number of materials to create texture, such as brass, Danish bronze, copper, Portland stone cladding, Irish oak flooring, terrazzo stairways, and mosaics designed by Patrick Scott.
It was one of the first modern buildings in Dublin that attempted to integrate art and architecture, utilising elements like glass facades and a pavilionised top storey with a reinforced concrete flat roof, the building won the Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland Triennial Gold medal in 1955. It was heralded as Europe’s first postwar office building by American and British journals.
The Eblana Theatre, originally intended as a newsreel venue, in the basement of the building was used as a theatre venue from 1959 to 1995. The building was featured on the highest value stamp issued in the Architecture definitive postage stamp set issued in 1982 by the P&T – the forerunner of An Post.