1950s Timeline +
The restoration of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham
The condition of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham was of urgent concern to the Arts Council. The minutes of an April 1955 meeting – twenty five years before restoration began – record
‘it was decided that a Resolution should be sent to the Taoiseach recommending that reconditioning of the Royal Hospital for use as a National Folk Museum be commenced and stating that the Council was anxious that a deputation should wait on the Taoiseach in connection with this matter’.
Regarded as the finest seventeenth-century building in Ireland, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham was built in 1680–84 as a home for retired soldiers. The inspiration for its founder, the Duke of Ormonde, was Les Invalides in Paris. The Royal Hospital Kilmainham predates the Royal Hospital Chelsea by two years.
Following Irish Independence in 1921, the building was administered from London until 1928 when the few remaining ex-soldiers were transferred to Chelsea.
Apart from two years in the 1930s, when it served as Garda headquarters while the Garda Depot in Phoenix Park was being renovated, the Royal Hospital Kilmainham lay idle and deteriorating for over 40 years. A visit by the newly-elected Taoiseach Jack Lynch in 1977 led to the initiation of a massive restoration scheme costing £21m and its eventual re-opening in 1984.
Archive material: 7 pieces
- ZOOM IN
- ZOOM OUT
Council Meeting Minutes on the Royal Hospital Kilmainham
Tuesday, March 25, 1952
Letter to the Arts Council from Council Member A Chester Beatty
Tuesday, December 23, 1952
Letter from Arts Council Director, P.J. Little to A Chester Beatty
Friday, January 02, 1953
Letter to the Arts Council from Ms Muriel Gahan (Irish Homespun society)
Thursday, April 21, 1955
Letter from the Arts Council to the Taoiseach John A Costello with Council Minute (attached)
Friday, April 29, 1955
Letter from Department of the Taoiseach to Arts Council
Saturday, April 30, 1955
Press cutting - Irish Press - the National Museum and the Royal Hospital Kilmainham
Tuesday, December 11, 1962
... that nothing should stand in the way of restoring this beautiful piece as a National Monument for the country’s benefit.
Letter from Muriel Gahan, April 21 1955 to P.J. Little, Director