CUSTOM HOUSE IN CONTEXT
The Custom House in Dublin is regarded as one of the jewels in the city’s architectural crown. A masterpiece of European neo-classicism, it took 10 years to build and was completed in 1791. It cost the then not inconsiderable sum of 200,000 sterling.
It was the greatest achievement of James Gandon who had been brought over from England to carry out the work. Gandon had been chosen by John Beresford, Chief Revenue Commissioner and a small coterie of the Irish ascendency who were then in the process of enhancing the streets and public buildings of Dublin.
The sculptures which are located in various parts of the building were by the famous Irish sculptor, Edward Smyth.
Initially the building was exclusively 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. The building was burnt to the ground on 25 May, 1921 during the Irish War of Independence; restoration work was competed by 1928.
A second programme of restoration began in the 1980s and was completed in time for the bi-centenary of the Custom House in 1991.