The first architects in Ireland arrived at the end of Queen Elizabeth I's reign. They came as military engineers in the service of the Crown. Most were of English origin though some came from France and from the Netherlands. As in Britain it was the operation of the Irish Royal Works - a body responsible for the forts and fortified towns of the country and, incidentally, for rebuilding Dublin Castle - that provided the starting point for the professional careers of Ireland's first architects. These are Sir Josias Bodley, Nicholas Pynnar, and John Paine. Sir William Robinson, Surveyor General of Fortifications and Buildings from 1670 to 1700, designed the Royal Hospital at Kilmainham and is the first designer of architecture rather than fortifications. Captain Thomas Burgh, the Surveyor General from 1700 - 1730, is Ireland's first native-born architect of consequence.

Throughout the eighteenth century patrons tended to look abroad for their architect. The designer of the Irish Houses of Parliament, Edward Lovett Pearce, came from England. His closest assistant, Richard Castle, was of Swiss and German stock. Alessandro Galilei, an architect from Florence, worked for the Speaker of the Irish House of Commons, at Castletown, in Co. Kildare and an architect from Sardinia, Davis Ducart, designed the Customs House at Limerick and the Mayoralty House in Cork. Sir William Chambers, Robert Adam, James Wyatt and James Gandon are British architects who each made an important contribution to Irish architecture. By the later Georgian period a number of Irish architects had gained positions of importance ,and in the careers of the Victorian architects Deane and Woodward and of the Dublin iron founder Richard Turner, the flow of influence from England to Ireland was reversed.

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