Custom House, The Spire and Liberty Hall
Image by infomatique
The Custom House is a neoclassical 18th century building in Dublin, Ireland which houses the Department of the 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 and was his first large scale commission. When it was completed and opened for business on the 7th November 1791, it 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 (by Edward Smyth) representing Ireland’s rivers.
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.