The streets of the Square, built around three sides, firstly Cavendish Street (later Cavendish Row) to the east, then Granby Row to the west and Palace Row to the north, were laid out between 1753 and 1785, on plots leased from landowners such as Luke Gardiner. In 1875 the streets ‘surrounding the garden ground belonging to the said Lying In Hospital’ were named Rutland Square in an Act of Parliament. The name of the Square was later changed to Parnell Square at a quarterly meeting of the Dublin City Council, on 3rd April 1933. Image courtesy of Dublin City Library and Archive.
Abbey Presbyterian Church was built in the early 1860s for the growing congregation of Mary’s Abbey by Dublin merchant Alexander Findlater. The Gothic Church was built on the site of Bective School at 17 Rutland Square. The church today serves a diverse congregation, with a strong community vision: “by making God’s glory our pleasure we become a blessing to the city”. The church’s outreach programmes include the Arts Ministry and the Abbey Day Nursery. Image courtesy of Dublin City Library and Archive.
No.18 was owned by Lord Farnham in the late 1780s. It was the home of the Vance family, of the firm Vance and Beers merchants, through the mid 1800s, and was sold in February 1893 to George Jameson, of J. Jameson and Son, the Dublin distillers. He embellished his home greatly, making the interior one of the most elaborate in the Square. The 1925 book 'Elixir of Life' by Geoffrey C. Warren and decorated by Harry Clarke extols the goodness of Jameson whiskey. The building opened as the Dublin Writers Museum in 1991, showing exhibitions on and memorabilia associated with Dublin writers from the 19th century onwards. It is also home to Michelin starred restaurant Chapter One. Image courtesy of Dublin City Library and Archive.
Numbers 20 and 21 Parnell Square are probably best known as the National Ballroom. No. 20 was built by Thomas Sherwood and the first lease of the house granted to William Cromies in 1769. It was in residential use, by different leaseholders, including Margaret Wallace, Lady Mountjoy, until 1840 when it became the Rev. Thomas Dee Scriptural Collegiate boarding and pay school. The Banba Hall was built in the early 1900s and the Irish Volunteers held concerts and céilís here. Image courtesy of Dublin City Library and Archive.
The site for no. 21 Parnell Square was first acquired by Simon Vierpyl, the sculptor and builder brought from Rome by Lord Charlemont in 1756. The house was taken by General John Toler in the late 1700s, and he became Lord Norbury in 1800. His son Hector, succeeded him as second Earl of Norbury, but was murdered at his country house, Durrow Abbey, near Kilbeggan, in January 1839. The murder was unsolved, although a disagreement between landlord and tenant was suspected. The house was inhabited by Rev. J. N. Woodruffe, Chaplain of the Bethesda Chapel on Granby Row, in 1877. Image courtesy of Dublin City Library and Archive.
Before no. 21 Parnell Square was converted to the National Ballroom, and the headquarters of the National Union of Vintners Grocers and Allied Trades Assistants in the 1940s, it was the home of the O’Farrell family, including Dr. Patrick J. O’Farrell, anaesthetist to the Mater Hospital. In the late 1960s the National Ballroom was extended from No. 21 into No. 20 and joined the Banba Hall. The National Ballroom closed in the late 1980s and after the INUVGATA moved out, the buildings were used for offices, including for Dublin City Council’s Arts Office. Image courtesy of Dublin City Library and Archive.
Dublin City Gallery is located in Charlemont House, no. 22 on the Square, designed by William Chambers for Lord Charlemont and built in 1765. The design provided a majestic centrepiece for a unique streetscape, unrivalled amongst Irish Georgian squares. The main house is one of the finest examples of 18th century Dublin architecture with fine plasterwork and fireplaces, including one by renowned Italian craftsman Pietro Bossi. In 1933 Charlemont House opened as the permanent location of the Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, now Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane. Image courtesy of Dublin City Library and Archive.
No. 25 was built by carpenter Thomas McDermott. The earliest lease dates from 1764. Throughout the 1800s the house was lived in by members of the legal profession including Sir Henry Meredyth, James Kernan and Charles Meldon. The Gaelic League or Conradh na Gaeilge, founded in 1893 by Douglas Hyde, was based in this house from 1909. Inaugurated by Douglas Hyde, Eoin MacNeill and Fr. Eugene O’Growney, the League was founded to revive and restore the use of the national language. The league’s objective was to revive the Irish language in spoken and literary form. It ran language classes and a national festival called An tOireachtas. The League’s newspaper was An Claidheamh Soluis.
Image courtesy of Dublin City Library and Archive.
The builder of No. 27 is unknown. William Deane was the proprietor by 1764. In the late 19th century the house was occupied by Arthur Dudgeon, civil engineer and architect. He designed the Ryevale Distillery at Leixlip, Co. Kildare (erected 1875). He also created drawings for the proposed Lyceum Theatre at Pearse Street and Tara Street, but the project did not go ahead. He was architect to the ‘Association for the housing of the very poor’. This house was acquired, along with no. 26, for the Congested Districts Board, and later by the Inspector of Taxes. The Coláiste Mhuire Theatre, an Amharclann, was built to the rear of the school in the 1960s, with access provided via No. 27. Image courtesy of Dublin City Library and Archive (McManus Collection).