I must admit that I have never paid much attention to this building until I realised that it was home to the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) School of Theoretical Physics.
In April 2021 two Modern Movement buildings of the early 1970s were added to the Record of Protected Structures. One of these is no. 24 St Stephen’s Green by Michael Scott and Partners; the other is the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) School of Theoretical Physics at no. 10 Burlington Road by Stephenson Gibney & Associates.
The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (DIAS) is a statutory independent research institute in Ireland. It was established in 1940 on the initiative of the Taoiseach, Éamon de Valera, in Dublin.
The institute consists of three schools: the School of Theoretical Physics, the School of Cosmic Physics and the School of Celtic Studies. The directors of these schools are, as of 2022, Professor Denjoe O’Connor, Professor Tom Ray and Professor Ruairí Ó hUiginn. The institute, under its governing act, is empowered to “train students in methods of advanced research” but does not itself award degrees; graduate students working under the supervision of Institute researchers can, with the agreement of the governing board of the appropriate school, be registered for a higher degree in any university worldwide.
Following a comprehensive review of the higher education sector and its institutions, conducted by the Higher Education Authority for the Minister for Education and Skills in 2013, DIAS was approved to remain an independent institute carrying out fundamental research. It appointed a new CEO, Dr Eucharia Meehan, formerly director of the Irish Research Council, in the summer of 2017.
After becoming Taoiseach in 1937, Éamon de Valera investigated the possibility of setting up an institute of higher learning. De Valera was aware of the decline of the Dunsink Observatory, where Sir William Rowan Hamilton and others had held the position of Royal Astronomer of Ireland. Following meetings with prominent academics in the fields of mathematics and astronomy, he came to the conclusion that astronomy at Dunsink should be revived and an institute for higher learning should be established. The institute was and is modelled on the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton, New Jersey, which was founded in 1930, and theoretical physics was still the research subject in 1940. The School of Celtic Studies owes its founding to the importance de Valera accorded to the Irish language. He considered it a vital element in the makeup of the nation, and therefore important that the nation should have a place of higher learning devoted to this subject.
DIAS was founded on the direction of the Taoiseach, under the Institute for Advanced Studies Act, 1940 As set out in its legislation, ‘the functions of the Institute shall be to provide facilities for the furtherance of advanced study and the conduct of research in specialised branches of knowledge and for the publication of results of advanced study and research.’