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Irish Houses of Parliament

Today a branch of the Bank of Ireland, the old Irish Parliament buildings were a radical Neoclassical creation.

TravelCurious Tip

In the winter enormous wood fires are lit in the hearths at either entrance – more than welcome when coming in from the cold!

On visiting the old Irish Houses of Parliament - now the Bank of Ireland – you may be struck by the feeling that they are somehow familiar. This is because the dramatic Palladian architecture you see before you became the model for the exterior designs of both the British Museum and the US Capitol Building. The original structure was completed in 1733, and was the world’s first purpose-built two-house parliament. Its design also features a very unusual and highly symbolic detail. Where most parliaments of the day gave equal position to both the upper and the lower house (and sometimes precedence to the upper), the Irish Parliament’s construction placed the House of Commons in the very centre of the building. The House of Lords, by contrast, occupied a smaller chamber off to one side.


The Upper Crust

These days, though, the upper house far outshines the lower in terms of visitor appeal. While the latter was altered considerably in both form and function after the dissolution of the Irish Parliament, the old mahogany and Irish oak panelling of the former has been left largely untouched since the days when Irish MPs debated beneath its still-present 18th century crystal chandelier.


A Paneless Experience

One curious feature of the building as a whole is the total absence of windows. During the period in which it was constructed there was a “glass tax” in force in both Britain and Ireland. As a result, the windows included in the original plans were filled in to cut costs. The intention was to install them at a later date, but this never happened, and the solid stone walls remain windowless to this day.


Nearby Attractions

See all attractions in Dublin
General Post Office
The capital's last great Georgian public building, and the headquarters of the Easter Rising in 1916.
Ha’penny Bridge
An elegant icon of Dublin, the first pedestrian bridge to cross the Liffey.
Temple Bar
A lively cultural and creative quarter on the south bank of the River Liffey.
Trinity College
Ireland's most prestigious university, retaining a tranquil collegiate atmosphere in the midst of the city.
Dublin City Hall
A masterpiece of the civic Georgian architecture for which Dublin is renowned.
The Book of Kells
Ireland's most treasured medieval manuscript, dating back to the 9th century.

Related Tours

Historic Highlights of Dublin, Private Walking Tour
 Discover the culture and vibrancy of Ireland between the rolling landscapes and foggy skyline, by taking a historical highlights tour.

  • Stroll historic O'Connell Street 
  • Snap photos of Ireland's most famous university, Trinity College
  • Admire Dublin's famous architecture, which spans several centuries and styles
  • Explore Dublin Castle's grounds, and Christ Church Cathedral,  as you learn about its exciting Viking heritage
  • Finish your tour in one of Dublin's most social neighborhoods: Temple Bar

Celtic Pride and Irish Independence

Dublin has a rich 2,000 year old history, spanning from the Celts to the modern day; this curated walking tour will bring that history alive. Your tour will begin with a walk along the famed O’Connell Street, where you will see The Spire, Daniel O'Connell and James Joyce statues and the General Post Office. This is the very spot where the crowds gathered for the Declaration of Irish Independence and which became inspiration for poetry and literature of the era. You will hear all about the many writers and rebels from you knowledgeable local guide. 

Stepping on the Ha’penny Bridge, a beautiful pedestrian bridge that once charged the eponymous half penny to cross, we will cross the River Liffey to walk within the hallowed campus of the famed Trinity College, Ireland’s first and most acclaimed university. Here you will hear about the college’s numerous treasures and tales of renowned past students, including Oscar Wilde and Bram Stoker. 

Classical Dublin

Continue your turn about the city with a dive into some of Dublin's most famous architectural buildings, including the Neoclassical 18th century former House of Parliament and the Georgian-style City Hall. 

In the courtyard and garden of Dublin Castle, you will explore the castle’s 800-year history. Near old Christ Church Cathedral you will learn about the area's history as a Viking settlement, and view the site of the world’s first performance of Handel’s Messiah.

You will also visit the famous Temple Bar, Dublin’s cultural and entertainment quarter and one of the liveliest nightlife areas that preserves its medieval street pattern, with many narrow cobbled streets.
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