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23 July 2024  

Celebrating 100 years in 49 Merrion Square


In 1912, NUI moved to 48 and 49 Merrion Square leaving UCD in full possession of the Earlsfort Terrace buildings which had been shared with NUI. The Merrion Square buildings were described in Senate minutes as a ‘Temporary location for the University’. This year we are celebrating one hundred years unbroken occupancy of this ‘temporary location.’

49 Merrion Square is a listed Georgian building. What is known about the house is that it was built by George Kent some time between the 1790s and 1814. The house was leased in 1818 by Sir Robert Way Harty, who was later elected Lord Mayor of Dublin. He is generally credited with having commissioned the mural paintings, which are such an important feature of the house. Christine Casey, in her authoritative study Dublin: The City within the Grand and Royal Canals and the Circular Road with the Phoenix Park comments that ‘these are the most ambitious c19 painted interiors in Dublin’.

The murals completely cover the walls from the dado upwards with the mural or murals on each wall being set in illusionisticwooden frames. The sources and inspirations for these Italianate landscape scenes, which include classical and mythological references, were taken from works by a number of artists including Claude Lorrain, Rubens, Salvatore Rosa and Grimaldi. Due to the absence of documentary evidence, the identity of the artist is unknown. Nevertheless, the sca le and quality of the cycle of mural paintings in 49 Merrion Square in its scale and quality is unique in Dublin and is significant in terms of the Georgian heritage of interior decoration.





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