Bank of Ireland to undertake €36m restoration of College Green building

Work will be the largest renovation project on historic building in 200 years

The Bank of Ireland at College Green, one of Dublin’s most important historic buildings, is to undergo a €36 million restoration, repair, and upgrade programme in what will be the largest investment in the building in more than 200 years.

Built to house the Irish parliament in the 18th century, the building has been home to the bank since 1803 following the Act of Union, making it one of the oldest banking halls in continuous use in the world.

While the building has been maintained and adapted for modern use over the years, many of its oldest features have been largely untouched including some windowpanes which were part of the original structure.

The renovation programme, expected to take five years, subject to planning permission, will involve the repair and upgrade of 280 windows, 45 staircases and 20 km of electrical cabling. Work will also be undertaken on the building’s 54 roofs, 80 roof lights and a combined 2.5 km of roof walkways.


A number of windows dating from the original 18th century building will be removed, restored and reinstalled and two 300 year-old tapestries hanging in the former House of Lords chamber will be cleaned and restored as part of the project.

“Bank of Ireland has engaged the advice of conservation architects and a historic paint specialist for the project, which will be the biggest since it undertook a major repair and cleaning of College Green’s exterior stonework and facades in 1971,” the company said.

“The Bank has digitally mapped the interior of the most historic parts of College Green. The mapping exercise, which involved the use of drones, created a complete three-dimensional virtual record that can be used to guide any future protection and restoration work.”

Despite several calls over the years for the building to be returned to State-ownership, the bank said its planned investment reinforced its commitment to retaining the College Green branch.

“College Green occupies a very special place in Ireland’s – and Bank of Ireland’s – history and heritage. It’s one of the nation’s most-loved buildings. And, for more than 200 years, it’s been at the heart of how we at Bank of Ireland serve our customers, work as colleagues, and support Dublin’s growth,” Susan Russell, the bank’s director of Retail Ireland said.

“College Green is part of our DNA, and we’re proud of it. We see this investment as a statement of commitment and intent – commitment to our role as custodian of these iconic buildings for future generations, and intent to continue to play a central role in Dublin’s future development,” she said.

The bank is expected to remain open during the work.

Originally constructed to designs by Sir Edward Lovett Pearce in 1728 as the first purpose-built two-chamber parliament building in the world, the building was extended to by James Gandon, who added the curved screen wall and the Corinthian portico facing Trinity College in 1785. From 1792-94 Edward Parke added a western colonnade and tetrastyle portico fronting onto Foster Place.

The bank fronts onto College Green which Dublin City Council plans to transform into a pedestrian and cycle plaza. The council plans to lodge a fresh application to An Bord Pleanála for the civic plaza next year, with work expected to begin in 2024.

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly

Olivia Kelly is Dublin Editor of The Irish Times