Dublinia Curiosa


An architectural quirk on Merrion Street Upper in central Dublin. Developed during the second half of the 18th century, the road at this point suddenly narrows with the result that No.20 extends beyond its neighbours to the immediate north. Different coloured brickwork indicates the fourth storey is a later addition to the building when the roof height was raised, but the really distinctive feature is an elongated Wyatt window on the first floor. Note how the fenestration on the side components of the tripartite sash window differs from that in the central unit and how the whole is capped with a segmental arch incorporating a blind fanlight. Curiouser and curiouser, as Alice was wont to exclaim.

You can read more about Dublin in a piece I have written for the June issue of American Elle Decor.

13 comments on “Dublinia Curiosa

  1. Cognizant that the Archbishops of Armagh, Lord Primates, lived in the city of Dublin, mainly because it was the seat of government and the Irish House of Lords, I never discovered where they lived; whether they had an official residence or not.

    • I have been undertaking some research into this matter of late. Please give me more time and I may be able to help answer your question. A recent conversation with Alec Cobbe, in which he suggested his forebear, Charles Cobbe, Archbishop of Dublin built Newbridge House, Co Dublin in expectation of being elevated to the See of Armagh and in response for this office holder to have a suitable residence in the capital (in the event, Charles C was not appointed to the position).

  2. Just noticed this the other day for this first time and was wondering about it (observation skills lacking obviously!). I can confirm that the upper deck of a bus is a good place to view it. I was wondering whether it was at the end of a gallery or something on the first floor? Otherwise it must look enormous in the room.

  3. Interesting, one would need to gain access to the building in order to see; it looks now to have become a blind window. The brickwork arch indicates this detail to have been original. Further investigation required…

  4. REMF says:

    By a remarkable coincidence, I studied this feature this very morning. The side units apart from having different sash arranegments, are blind. I suspect that the outer brickwork was stripped from the sides of an original narrower window to achive the result and didn’t require the structural alteration that would have been required .

    • Now that’s an interesting proposal, and one that makes sense. It does look as if the centre window is the same width as that below and could date from when the house was first constructed. The building might then have been altered towards the close of the 18th century to take account of changing fashion and a wider Wyatt window created. Although as I have already noted, the brick arch above the fanlight suggests this was an original feature?

  5. Declan Dunne says:

    An ill advised restoration and insertion of new wrongly configured central sashes would explain. The central sash should be 9 over 6 – which would match the blind sashes to either side. The whole making up the illusion of a grand Wyatt window. Originally the blind sashes to either side would have been painted to resemble real windows with dark black ‘glazing’ and off white glazing bars. Would be worth a proper and considered reinstatement.

    • Declan Dunne says:

      On blind glazing – there are some fantastic examples in the New Town in Edinburgh that feature original glass painted black on the reverse. Where the paint has flaked away you can see through to the stone wall behind,

    • Thank you for your contributions; they all make admirable sense, and certainly the central section’s current fenestration is wrong. The whole window looks in need of maintenance so now is the time for a complete restoration of the correct schema.

  6. REMF says:

    Looking again- window was altered after structural opes were formed and before brick skin completed- allowing last minute flourish!

  7. Yes Declan is absolutely correct – this is a classic and well-known example of a poorly proportioned twentieth-century reproduction sash window, with multitudinous, clunky square panes that do not match the original pane shape or arrangement. The anachronistic horns are a further giveaway in this respect.

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