The City and Memory: Dublin Castle
Dublin Castle is located in the center of Dublin, on Dame Street. For much of it's history it has been the seat of the British administration in Ireland and is now used for the inauguration of the Irish president, among other governmental functions.
It was founded in 1204 by the orders of King John of England as a defensive fortification and was largely completed by 1230. At that time the city wall sprung directly from the northeast tower and rejoined the castle's southwestern tower after encompassing the city.
After initial building was completed Dublin Castle sustained a number of comparatively minimal changes, but after a fire in 1684 it was completely transformed.
The first designs for the rebuilding were submitted in 1688 by Surveyor General Sir William Robinson and they served as a strong inspiration to an architect believed to be Sir Edward Lovett Pearce, who ultimately redesigned the Upper Yard at the beginning of the 18th century. Building commenced well into the 1750s until the medieval castle was largely converted to a Georgian palace. The Record Tower is the only part of the medieval fabric above ground level today, the Chapel Royal, even though it looks Gothic, was actually constructed by Francis Johnston in 1807.
A number of other buildings was added through the years, mostly around what is now the garden marking the legend site of the "Dubh Linn", the black pool from which the city name derives, including the Ship Street Baracks (1811), the Coach/Carriage House (1834) and most recently the International Conference Centre in 1989 and the Chester Beatty Library.
Dublin Castle can be said to represent the city's collective memory for a number of reasons.
Through it's multiple transformations it has retained elements of different architectural epoches, making the building's history visible to the onlooker. Medieval in the Record Tower, Georgian in the Upper Yard, Classical in the Garden Front of the State Appartments and modern in the Conference Centre, it provides a miniature version of the architectural styles present in all of Dublin and the city's development over the centuries.
Moreover the building is associated with a large number of historical personages, ranging from the Lord Lieutenants, occupying the Castle for centuries, to United Irishmen General Joseph Holt, incarcerated after the 1798 Rising, to the War of Independence leader Michael Collins, taking over upon formation of the Free State in 1921, to Republican politician Eamon de Valera, who was in the habit of receiving credentials there, to Queen Elisabeth II of England, who visited the Castle in 2011.
In it's use Dublin Castle has reflected the changing tide of history. Being the seat of the British administration in Ireland for centuries and during this time publicly perceived as a representative of this unwanted rule, after the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921 it was turned over to the Provisional Government and in 1938 the inauguration of the first President of Ireland took place there, a ceremony it has hosted ever since. From that time onward it has been wholy taken up as a revenue for Irish state functions, being a representative building for the independent nation both in public and international perception.