Refurbished Custom House visitor centre opens
An exhibition details events of Easter week 1916 when building was occupied by British
The Custom House became an army base during Easter week. Photograph: Dave Meehan
The Custom House, James Gandon’s architectural masterpiece in Dublin, opens to the public today for the first time in more than a decade.
A newly refurbished visitor centre will tell the story of the building and its occupants from its construction, beginning in the early 1780s and lasting 10 years, to its destruction in 1921 and subsequent restoration.
While its part in the Civil War is well known, when the building was gutted by fire that destroyed its dome and most of the interiors, its use during the 1916 Rising is less recognised.
A new exhibition details the events of Easter week 1916 when, within hours of the outbreak of the rebellion, the building was occupied by British forces, largely saving it from destruction at that time.
The Custom House became an army base during Easter week and was also used as a prison with 250 people having been held there after arrest. The exhibition gives the details of some of the more notable figures held, including Roddy Connolly, son of James Connolly, and Frank Thornton, one of Michael Collins’s intelligence men. It also tells the stories of local government staff dismissed for participating in the Rising.
The final part of the exhibition deals with the fire in 1921, the destruction of the building and its restoration from 1924-1930.
The visitor centre, which has free entry, will remain open from 10am-4.30pm until April 3rd, but this could be extended if there is sufficient interest, the Department of the Environment said .