No.42 O’Connell Street has long fascinated me, sitting next to a sports bar and easy to miss, yet so different from everything else on the street. The building is the oldest surviving residential building on the street according to TJ O’Connor and Associates, a consulting engineer firm.
Their website provides some interesting information on the building, noting that:
The building comprises of 4 storeys over basement and is constructed in cellular form typical of the Georgian period. While the original construction was of high quality, the building has been subjected to numerous alterations during its lifetime, particularly those associated with the adjoining hotel on the 40-41 O’Connell Street site.
Under ‘Client’, the website lists Chartered Land Development, who are embroiled in the controversy around the future of Moore Street and the equally important historic laneways which surround it, connected to the story of the 1916 rebellion.
The house was the subject of some controversy in 1984, when plans to demolish it led to opposition. Writing in The Irish Times, Frank McDonald noted that:
The house dates from 1752. It was designed by Richard Castle, the architect of the Rotunda, and although the front facade is very plain, the interior contains many fine features, including ornate plaster work ceilings and an exceptionally good carved wooden staircase.
Pat Liddy has detailed the manner in which the building was purchased in 1882 by the Catholic Commercial Club, essentially a club for Catholic businessmen who “had been excluded from the existing social clubs in the city.” A library, a reading room, a restaurant, lecture rooms and other facilities were to be found inside of this club.
It is incredible to read now that once upon the time the very idea of knocking down one of the few buildings on the street to survive the revolutionary period intact was even considered. This is a great building which deserves your attention next time you’re passing.