O'Brien Institute

The O'Brien Institute is a building complex in Dublin, Ireland. It was built 1880–1883. Currently used by Dublin Fire Brigade as a Training Centre,[1] the original purpose of the building was to serve as an orphan home and school. The purchase of the land and building costs were financed by a trust that was founded by Bridget O'Brien in 1876. The last of the boarders (four in all) left in 1976,when the school was closed for good, at the time it was run by the Christian Brothers. The architect was John Joseph O'Callaghan (+ 1905). The original buildings of the Institution are listed buildings, number 4940 in the Dublin City Development Plan 2005-2011.

Building phase

The Building was commenced in 1880. The contractors were Messrs. Hammond and Co., based in Dublin and Drogheda, J.J. O'Callaghan carried out the superintendence himself.

Three years later, in August 1883 the works were nearly finished. The Irish builder described the chapel like this: “The chapel consists of chancel, choir, seculars’ chapel, sacristy, and belfry. A large organ gallery is situated at the west end [Note: in fact it is the south-east – end], and is approached by circular stairs, making a bold feature in connection with the west [south-east] gable. The chapel is connected with the main building by a cloister corridor about 30 ft in length. The belfry is situated at the north-west end [in fact south-west], and forms a porch to secular chapel, and is surmounted by an octagon spire, which, like the rest of the building, is built in brick. The dressings generally are in Drogheda limestone, while the walls throughout are built of brick from Kingscourt, Co. Cavan. The roof is open timbered to the curved ribs, and is paneled; the windows are glazed in lead lights. The woodwork is painted two shades, plain colour.” [2]

The Dublin newspapers wrote: “[..] The chapel, detached from the main building by a corridor, adds much to the general architectural effect. [..] The chapel has an apsidal end nave, and contains a handsomely-designed organ gallery and Communion rails, seats of pitch pine, and an extremely effective Portland stone altar. The large wheel window in the east gable adding much to the appearance of the elevation. A belfry of brick, with stone dressing, completes the design of the S.E. angle.”

Next to the Institute is the Casino at Marino.


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