Victorian Era Architecture Research Paper


The Ireland architecture represents one of the most wonderful features of the Irish countryside. There are houses that were built in different periods of time starting from the stone period abounding and up to the present day.

Ireland is well-known for its castles that were built and unfortunately ruined during the Norman and Anglo-Irish period, for small white cottages and interesting buildings of the Georgian era and for Gothic and neo-Gothic cathedrals and buildings. Rococo houses of the countryside are magnificent and are uncomparable to anything else in Europe.

In the 20th century owing to the new development of industry and economics there have appeared houses of new culture and design that defined a renaissance of Irish culture and design, placing Ireland’s towns at the cutting edge of the present architecture.

In Ireland one can see the period of beautiful buildings of the great Georgian time for which Ireland is so famous. The Victorian period was one of urban expansion that is why Ireland’s towns and cities still have hundreds of thousands of Victorian houses. Victorian Ireland with its glorious gardens and ornate buildings attracts by its unique beauty.

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Ireland is a country with a unique heritage. It is sodden in culture and national traditions. Houses, Castles and Gardens of Ireland represent some of Ireland’s finest architectural jewels and cultural charms.

2. Georgian Ireland

Georgian architecture is a style that was prominent in England and in Ireland in particular in the 18th century (Craig, Maurice, 1980, p.67). In the second half of the 18th century one of the most significant architects of Ireland was James Gandon from London. In 1781 Gandon arrived to Ireland at the invitation of Lord Carlow and John Beresford.

Houses of Gandon’s architecture in Dublin contain the Four Courts, the Custom House, the King’s Inns and the eastern part of the Irish parliament building in College Green. The Georgian architecture is famous for its free style and absolute absence of strict rules of mathematical ratio and axis characteristic to the palladian style. During this style large parts of Dublin were built once again.

The official residence of the President of Ireland by Francis Johnston

Francis Johnston was one of the most prominent Irish architects of this era. Francis Johnston was working as an architect in the Board of Works at that period. That is why he was responsible for plans of new buildings of the Georgian Dublin period. He is also the author of many beautiful houses, such as Hardwicke Place, St. George’s Church and the Viveregal Lodge in the Phoenix Park. Nowadays the Viveregal Lodge is the official residence of the President of Ireland.

There are some of the oldest and largest Georgian houses in Dublin at Henrietta Street. In the 19th century these houses served as blocks of flats for rent.

Beside large houses, terraces and squares were a characteristic feature of the Georgian architecture. They were built near elegant houses and became a wonderful addition for family houses. In the 19th century many of these buildings became blocks of flats in Ireland. A significant part of them were destroyed according to slum clearance programmes in 20th century (Craig, Maurice, 1980, p.78).
Nevertheless, in Dublin many buildings of that period stayed untouched, as well as squares and terraces. Squares that clearly demonstrate that epoch are Pery Square and Merrion Square. Other small cities of Ireland, such as Mountmellick and County Laois, have buildings of Georgian period.
At the end of the reign of King George III the GPO, one of the most famous Georgian buildings of Ireland, was finished. It was finished in 1814 by Richard Johnston. The six columns that take a great hexastyle Doric portico are the most interesting feature of the building.

The three statues – of Fidelity, Hibernia and Mercury are erected near the building. The building has halls with high ceilings and it has been rebuilt.

3. Victorian period

In the 19th century as Ireland was a part of the United Kingdom. British architecture still influenced architecture styles in Ireland. Many famous Irish houses were built in Ireland during this time. They are: the Olympia Theatre, Findlater’s Church on Parnell Square, Royal City of Dublin Hospital, the Central Markets in Cork, the National Museum of Ireland, the Natural History Museum, the National Library of Ireland and the Natural Gallery of Ireland.

Many of these new buildings were situated in the Southern part of Dublin, for example, in Baggot Street, Kildare Street and in the centre of Cork. It is interesting to know that nearly all the buildings were built in the major cities and only few were built in the provincial towns (Nathan, 2005, p.41).

The Victorian period is famous for new statues that were erected in Dublin. These are the statues of Queen Victoria, Daniel O’Connell and Henry Grattan. The cathedral dedicated to St Patrick at Killarney is one of Ireland’s most beautiful Victorian buildings. This cathedral was built in a neo-gothic style. In other words, ‘Lancet arched Gothic’ that was called because it has long lancet shaped windows with sharp arches.

One of the greatest of Victorian architects was August Pugin. He began building the cathedral in 1842 and was finished in 1855. The design of the cathedral is of Irish gothic (Nathan, 2005, p.56).
The beautiful building is decorated with Sicilian marble and Caen stone and has a spire of 280 feet.
At that period of time the only style suitable for religious worship, for cathedrals, was gothic style. August Pugin was the first architecture who helped to popularize the gothic style in Victorian Ireland.

4. The present day architecture

In the 20th century, the Ireland architecture is characterized by sleek and often radical building styles. New building materials were used in order to make space bigger and to use light and energy efficiency (Becker, Wang, 1997, p.62).

An important modification in Ireland’s architecture has happened during the last several years. The present day tendency is to build four, five and six story apartment and office buildings.

5. Conclusion

The paper briefly analyzes Georgian and Victorian architecture, pointing out the major features that characterize this style.

Besides, the paper gives an analysis of the present day architecture.


Eric Nathan (2005). Victorian London Lee Jackson, New Holland Publishers, 160 p.
Becker, Annette, and Wilfried Wang (1997). 20th-century Architecture: Ireland. Prestel.
Craig, Maurice (1980). Dublin 1660-1860. Allen Figgis.
Davison, David, and Edward McParland (2001). A New Way of Building: Public Architecture in Ireland, 1680-1760. Yale University Press.
Dennison, Gabriel, and Baibre Ni Fhloinn (1994). Traditional Architecture in Ireland. Royal Irish Academy.
McCullough, Niall (1987). A Lost Tradition: The Nature of Architecture in Ireland. Gandon Editions.


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