The Custom House in Dublin | Sightseeing
The Custom House in Dublin is regarded as one of the city's greatest architectural buildings. It is an iconic neoclassical 18th century building in the heart of the city located on the north bank of the River Liffey. The Custom house originally was the headquarters of the Commissioners of Custom and Excise; however by the beginning of the twentieth century, the dominant role of the Custom House was in relation to local government.
There was a previous Custom House built in 1707 however, it was deemed unfit for purpose by the late 18th century. The construction of this current Custom House was the idea of a man called John Beresford, who would later become Irelands first commissioner of revenue in 1780. It was built on what at the time was a swamp. The construction was incredibly unpopular amongst local merchants and Dublin Corporation. The believed it would move the axis of the city along with reduce the space for shipping.
Construction of the current customs house started in 1781, Every available mason in Dublin was given work on the project. It would take around 10 years for the construction of the building to be completed and then opened on the 7th November 1791. The sculptures which are located in various parts of the building were by the famous Irish sculptor, Edward Smyth. There are 14 keystones which sit over the doors and windows of the building, these are known as the Riverine Heads because they respect the Atlantic Ocean and the 13 principal rivers of Ireland
When the port of Dublin moved further downriver to sea, the building stopped being use to collect customs duties, It then became the headquarters of the Local Government Board for Ireland. During the Irish War of Independence in 1921, the Irish Republican Army burnt down the Custom House. A large quantity of irreplaceable historical records were also destroyed in the fire.
Following the Anglo-Irish Treaty the was a great deal of reconstruction which can be observed on the building's exterior today. The Office of Public Works further restored and cleaned the stonework in the 1980s.