Above is the original architects drawing for Tara Street Fire Station. In the mind of many Dubliners the building is on Pearse Street, but owing to its postbox being on Tara Street it is ‘Tara Street Fire Station’. This image has not appeared online before.
The station was opened in 1907, by the then Lord Mayor Joseph Nanetti. Nanetti was not only Dublin’s only Lord Mayor to come from the Italian community, he was also the first Lord Mayor to come from the Labour movement.
The site of the fire station holds a special place in the history of the Italian community in Dublin, because as Vinnie Caprani noted in A View From The Dart (1984), the Lord Mayor of Dublin “…found himself opening a fire station on the exact spot where Giuseppe Cervi had set up Dublin’s first mobile chipper, “thus giving Dubliners the ‘wan-and-wan’, a meal which quickly became as popular on the working-class menu as the more traditional coddle or tripe-and-onions.”
Looking at the architects drawing and the building today, it’s clear the final tower design was different from that envisioned by the architect at first. It is said the tower of the fire station was used by British forces in 1916 to attack rebel outposts, and Liberty Hall which it was believed at first was the rebel headquarters. Shane MacThomáis noted in his day by day account of the Rising that:
From Wednesday onwards rifle and machine-gun fire on the GPO and its outposts, particularly those at the junction of O’Connell Street with the Quays, became heavy and ceaseless. Much of it came from Trinity College and the tower of Tara Street Fire Station across the river.
In this image below, showing members of the Irish Citizen Army on the roof of Liberty Hall, the tower can clearly be seen in the distance.
This postcard below comes from the time of the opening and shows the building more or less as it is today. It is difficult to understand today just what a presence this building would have had on the capitals skyline. The purpose of the tower was to serve as a lookout post, and also to allow for full lengths of the canvas hose used at the time to be hung up to dry.
Ironically, Liberty Hall is a considerably taller building than it today.