It’s a Lock Out

IAA Front Elevation

The largest house on Merrion Square today is no. 45 which dates from 1785. As mentioned before (see The Fashionable Side, September 24th), it was built by Gustavus Hume who when not acting as a medical surgeon dabbled in property development, being also responsible for laying out Ely Place and Hume Street to the south-west of Merrion Square. Five bays wide and rising four storeys over basement, no. 45 has a restrained neo-classical interior with ground and first floor rooms radiating off an immense cantilevered Portland stone staircase.
For the past decade the building has been home to the Irish Architectural Archive. Founded in 1976 the IAA is an independent charity which receives some state assistance but relies on private support to sustain its services. The organisation’s holdings at present include 2.5 million drawings and documents, 500,000 photographs and 30,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals: the greatest single source of information on Ireland’s buildings and those who designed them, this material is freely available for research to all visitors.
Unfortunately at the moment the IAA like so many other cultural bodies is suffering from inadequate funding and unless additional monies are found, it will have to shut for the months of July and August, with the small body of staff made temporarily redundant. One must worry that if this is permitted to happen, a precedent will have been set, not just for the IAA but similar establishments too. Anybody interested in helping to ensure the IAA’s future can find more information at With its graceful late 18th century plasterwork by Michael Stapleton, the door shown below faces the top of the main staircase. How dreadful were it, along with all the others in the building, to be closed in a few weeks’ time.


One comment on “It’s a Lock Out

  1. John O'Riordan says:

    Thank you so much for the wealth of detail and for the superb photographs.

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