Overlooking – and largely overlooked by – traffic on Kildare Street, what’s currently called the Department of Business, Enterprise and Innovation (but was originally the Department of Industry and Commerce) is like a little bit of the Rockefeller Center in Dublin. The building was designed in 1935 by James Boyd Barrett and is constructed of granite with a wonderful five-storey arched window over the entrance, its glazing bars in steel. The limestone relief over the door might be described as Hiberno-Deco, since it depicts Lugh, the Celtic God of Light, animating a fleet of aeroplanes. It was the work of Cork-born sculptor Gabriel Hayes, who was also responsible for another panel on the side elevation (School House Lane East) showing muscular construction workers engaged in various tasks.
I have not been inside that building for years – in the late 1980’s the fireplaces in several offices were still in use. I wonder if that remains the case?
There is a panel over the entrance (exit) to the car park depicting St Brendan the Navigator.
An interesting departure for the Irish Aesthete. I have often mused on the fact that (to my best recollection) he never features structures from the 20th Century, but concentrates most of his efforts on the ancient & the classical (no bad thing in my book). Art deco architecture in Ireland is thin on the ground, probably because the financial state of the country at that time did not permit such commissions. The style of buildings in this country, particularly those in the public sphere, seems to progress from the best high Victorian to crude expressions of modernism, with little of much note in between.
I am frightfully late in conveying my very best wishes to you Robert for the year ahead. Your articles continue to provide a highly civilized antidote to the chaos of modern life, sincere thanks.
The first and I still think only commissioned (and actually realised) department of State which we ever built.
One of the panels also depicts the construction of Ardnacrusha Power Station