The Arrival of Georgian Dublin
Between the Battle of the Boyne in 1690, which re-established the Protestant Ascendancy, and the Act of Union in 1801 when the Irish Parliament was abolished and amalgamated Ireland with England, the centre of Dublin was re-developed in the great classical style of the Georgian period.
Dublin had predominantly existed as a medieval city to this point, characterised by narrow winding streets. Major changes began to take place during the reign of King Charles II when the Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Ormond, instructed a redevelopment of Dublin's quays. He insisted that the front of the houses should face the river, rather than the rear of the houses as was typical of the medieval period. This redevelopment meant that the River Liffey became a focal point of the city rather than the sewer it had been during medieval times, when the houses lining its banks treated it as a household waste disposal.
In 1757 the Wide Streets Commission was established to modernize the city of Dublin. The medieval walls were swept away, the River Liffey was embanked and graceful bridges were built. Dublin became a wonder among cities - admired for its wide streets and promenades, its grandeur and the architectural qualities of its public and private buildings.
When examining this redevelopment of Dublin city centre, it must be remembered that Dublin was the home of a Parliament. It was the seat of government for Ireland and the Lord Lieutenant held Court there and had his country residence in the Phoenix Park. The city inevitably attracted members of both houses of the Irish Parliament, lawyers and others associated with the administration. It is no wonder that the eighteenth century was a prosperous period for Dublin and that the size and population of the city grew rapidly.
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