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Mountjoy Square Dublin +

Sureness of Style

“Is there a good house on Mountjoy Square?” Desirée Shortt asks mischievously. She qualifies herself, “It’s a rhetorical question!” She is talking about the condition of the houses, not the architecture. Ireland’s greatest living china restorer lives a safe block away in the genteel North Great George’s Street. Her neighbours include Senator David Norris and Grade I Conservation Architect John O’Connell. “Dublin is a very beautiful city,” Desirée qualifies herself even further. “Edinburgh is the only comparable city.”

It doesn’t help that Mountjoy Square shares its name with a fairly infamous prison. Slowly, though, the four terraces facing the green are shedding their shady past and early signs of gentrification are shining through on a sunny winter’s morning. There’s something more impressive about Georgian Dublin townhouses than their London counterparts. The brick is redder, the fanlights wider, the first floor windows taller, the basement areas deeper. It’s all about scale: bigger really is better. Everything’s looking up.

John Heagney writes in The Georgian Squares of Dublin, 2006, “Developed by the Gardiner Estate, Mountjoy Square was laid out in 1791 and built between 1793 and 1818. It has the distinction of being Georgian Dublin’s only true square since each of its four sides measures 140 metres in length. Mountjoy Square earned this tribute from contemporary commentators Warburton, Whitelaw and Walsh: ‘This square, which is now completely finished, is neat, simple and elegant, its situation elevated and healthy … the elevation of the houses, the breadth of the streets, so harmonise together, as to give pleasure to the eye of the spectator, and add to the neatness, simplicity, and regularity everywhere visible, entitling the square to rank high among the finest in Europe.’”

He continues, “But perhaps more than Dublin’s other Georgian squares, Mountjoy Square has suffered the depredations of time: after the 1800 Act of Union, it went into decline and many of its fine buildings became tenement dwellings, while a period of protracted neglect during the 20th century led to extensive loss of houses on the west and south sides of the square. The survival of the north and east sides is due largely to the heroic determination of individuals and families who pledged themselves to its continued existence and have laid the foundations for the future renaissance of Mountjoy Square, while a renewed interest in rescuing and cherishing Georgian Dublin bodes well for the future of this important part of the city’s streetscape.”

A driver’s experience is of a cohesive set piece of urban planning and architecture. A streetwalker’s experience is of the finer grain. Cut granite flags, moulded granite paving plinths, cut stone half arches spanning basement areas, cast iron boot scrapers and lantern standards. And those fanlight doorcases with their leaded umbrella like-spokes, miniature glass lanterns, sidelights, columns and friezes. The typical three bay five storey house on Mountjoy Square has 590 square metres of floorspace. Size matters.

13 replies on “Mountjoy Square Dublin +”

One of the full town houses is for sale for €1,875,000, number 68 Mountjoy Square West. I see you have photographed it including the upstairs reception room window – it is the terracotta coloured house. 584 m² so close to the 590 m² you suggest. It is beautifully restored – The house is currently configured as a private residence with office space at the hall and basement levels. The first floor features two formal interconnecting reception rooms with stunning period features including ornate ceiling coving and roses, impressively tall sash windows, hardwood floors and a ceiling height of 4.6m / 15 ft (approx.). The second and third floors house the perfectly contained private residence with an additional reception room, main kitchen, and two charming bedrooms, both ensuite. There is also a separate laundry room atop the house on the third floor. There are views of Mountjoy Square Park from each level, each slightly more different than the last, with the top floor offering views across the rooftops of the city centre.

How wonderful thank you for sharing. We did admire that house in particular hence all the photos. It is fascinating to see it inside and how well it has been restored. A bargain at the price! LVB

I remember that single almost end terrace the IGS (was it?) supported with massive wooden raking struts to shore up against collapse. Its is presumably now in-built.

Hi Stuart

I hope you don’t mind me emailing you but I happened to walk into a beautiful graveyard today in Picton, Australia NSW and happened to come across this one particular headstone. I was instantly intrigued as my grandparents were from Donegal in Ireland and I wanted to see if this was close ? Anyway I just read about MountJoy Square and when the area become established- I’m not sure but working out the dates I think this couple might have been some of the original inhabitants ? I seen an article that you wrote and just wanted to share this with you – you may/may not appreciate it but I wanted to bring this couple home!!!

Carol Thurtell

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