• Saturday , 21 October 2017

Pre-Georgian Grandeur on Aungier Street

1. Egan, Muireann, 9-9A Aungier Street today (2013)

Dublin is often described as an eighteenth century city, however 9-9A Aungier Street is an example of the Classical grandeur that had already begun to emerge in the previous century. Erected in 1664,[1] 9-9A is a National Monument and significant as one of the most intact structures of its time to survive in the country today.[2] Its nineteenth century façade disguises a wealth of architectural layers and its story reflects Dublin’s turbulent social history in the latter half of the last millennium.

The house is an example of a city mansion, a unique typology that emerged in the mid seventeenth century[3] to cater for the demands of the aristocracy following Dublin’s reinstatement as a capital city in 1660.[4] As a rule, these houses were four bays in width and four stories in height. They had a centrally located front door and a plan two rooms deep. Aesthetically they were less austere than the Georgian typology we are accustomed to, having overhanging eaves and small dormer windows in the top storey.[5]

Rocque’s map depicts 9-9A as having a square plan with a rear yard and a significantly sized outhouse. As is suggested by the map, it is believed that there was an integrated cart way at ground floor level.[6] This was found in older streets where pre-Georgian houses frequently used incorporated archways rather than mews lanes to provide access to the yard behind.[7]

2. Rocque, John, Roque's Map showing 9 Aungier Street (1756) Richview Map Library

Typical of its kind, the house has two masonry façades and a centrally located spine wall that support an internal timber structure. This composite construction method marks the transition from medieval timber frame edifices to more solid masonry structures. The timber used is softwood, which was transported from the Scandinavian and Baltic countries to meet the demands of the Irish building trade. The party walls contain massive chimney stacks. These are suggestive of wealth, allowing for a hearth in each room, whilst simultaneously providing structural support. The roof consists of a single pitch parallel to the street over the front rooms and a perpendicular double pitch to the rear.[8] Inside, many of the original lath and plaster stud partitions survive, as does the main staircase with its square newel posts and heavy, sculpted handrails.[9]

The dawn of the nineteenth century saw dramatic changes in Ireland beginning with the passing of the Act of Union in 1801. Consequently Dublin lost its parliament and the power of the ascendancy class began to wane.[10] Many emigrated to England[11] and the status of Dublin’s inner city inhabitants shifted to the lower classes.

By the early nineteenth century 9-9A had declined to become a merchant’s house with a shop at ground floor level.[12] In 1867 it lay abandoned before becoming a tenement the following year,[13] coinciding with the influx of people into the city in the years following the Great Famine.[14] The house remained a tenement throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century.[15]

3. Census of Ireland, 1911 Building return form showing 9 Aungier Street as tenements (1911) Courtesy of the National Archives of Ireland

Today the premises houses two shops at ground floor level, however the upper stories remain vacant as a result of a lack of funding. Fortunately, the building is one of the houses to profit from the recently announced Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme,[16] a welcome initiative that aims to assist private investors with the repair and conservation of their historic properties,[17] and plans for the house’s conservation are to be developed.[18]

The property will be open for public viewing as part of the Open House weekend on Saturday 18 October, between 11 am and 2 pm, and the following day, between 12 pm and 3 pm.

4. Lath and Plaster 3. Chimney Stack and ceiling 2. Timber floor joint

[1] Irish Times, 15 August 2014.

[2] Mesh Architects, Registered National Monument: 9-9A Aungier Street, Dublin 8 (2009) www.mesh.ie, accessed 18 September 2014.

[3] Dublin City Architects Division, Aungier Street: Revitalising an Historic Neighbourhood (2013), p. 5 and 39

[4] Nuala T. Burke, ‘An Early Modern Dublin Suburb: The Estate of Francis Aungier, Earl of Longford’, in Irish Geography, 6:4 (1972), p. 369

[5] Christine Casey, The Buildings of Ireland: Dublin (2005), p.512 and Dublin City Architects Division, Aungier Street: Revitalising an Historic Neighbourhood (2013), pp.16-17

[6] Sunni Goodson, Email to Muireann Egan, 2 December 2013.

[7] Niall McCullough, Dublin an Urban History: The Plan of the City (2007), p. 172

[8] Dublin City Architects Division, Aungier Street: Revitalising an Historic Neighbourhood (2013), p. 41

[9] Mesh Architects, Registered National Monument: 9-9A Aungier Street, Dublin 8 (2009) www.mesh.ie, accessed 25 September 2014.

[10] Michael Barry, Victorian Dublin Revealed (2011), p. 8

[11] Ibid.

[12] ‘Directory of Merchants and Traders‘ in Treble Almanack & Dublin Directory 1790 (1790),p. 86

[13] Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Almanac Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1866 (1866) p. 1385; Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Almanac Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1867 (1867), pp. 1353-4 and Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Almanac Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1868 (1868), pp. 1369-70

[14] Christiaan Corlett, Darkest Dublin (2008), p. 9

[15] Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Almanac Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1873, (1873), p. 1422; Alex Thom and Co. Ltd, Thom’s Official Directory of Great Britain and Ireland for the Year 1887 (1887), p. 1344 and www.census.nationalarchives.ie, accessed 25 September 2014

[16] Irish Times, 15 August 2014.

[17] Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, A guide to the Built Heritage Jobs Leverage Scheme 2014 (2014), p.2

[18] Irish Times, 15 August 2014.

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