Dublin’s most architecturally important building, James Gandon & The 1921 fire

Custom House Quay was built between 1781 – 1791 and is Dublin’s most architecturally important building and is regarded as a masterpiece of European neoclassicism. It was designed by James Gandon (1743 – 1823) who today, is recognized as the leading architect to have worked in Ireland during the 18th century. During the planning stage, Custom House was unpopular with the Dublin merchants who complained that it would move the axis of the city, would leave little room for shipping, and would be built on what was at the time, a swamp. It is said that the Irish people were so opposed to the Custom House and its associated taxes that Gandon was smuggled into the country and had to hide in his own home for the 3 months. The project was eventually completed at a cost of £200,000, an enormous sum at the time. In 1921, during the Irish war of independence, The IRA set it on fire to destroy to disrupt British rule in Ireland. The original interior was completely destroyed in the fire and the dome collapsed. A large quantity of irreplaceable historical records was also destroyed.