The Custom House

Artist(s) : John Carr (Draughtsman)

View of the southern and western fa├žades of the Custom House, Dublin, seen from across the Liffey. There are numerous ships, small sailing boats and rowing boats on the calm waters of the river. The quayside in front of the building is busy with people.

Inscribed in Image

  • Signature – Drawn by J. Carr Esqr.
  • Caption outside of boundaries of image – The Custom House / Published June 2, 1806 by R. Phillips. No. 6, New Bridge Street, Blackfryars

Image Details

Genre Townscape
Technique Aquatints
Subject(s) Architecture, Cities and towns, Transportation
Geographical Location
  • Custom House - Named locality
  • Dublin - Town or city
  • Dublin - County
  • Leinster - Province
Keywords(s) Boats, Buildings, Carriages & coaches, Government facilities, People, Rivers, Shields
Colour Coloured
Dimensions 13 cm x 20.6 cm
Published / created 1806

Bibliographical Details

Travel Account The stranger in Ireland
Print or manuscript Print
Location of image in copy opp. p. 485
Source copy National Library of Ireland LO 2699 Dir. Off.
Rights Courtesy of the National Library of Ireland

Related text from travel account

The Custom-house is a very superb building. Few capitals can boast of such an ornament: but it seems to be destined that the noblest edifices in Dublin should have some counteractive associate. The approach to the Custom-house, through Lower Abbey-street, is filthy and offensive beyond imagination. This noble pile consists of two large courts, with a central building, enclosed by the stores and other offices at the east and west. The plan extends three hundred and eighty by two hundred feet: it would be tedious to give in detail its numerous offices. // The principal front to the south, which claims most attention, is an octangular vestibule of Bath-stone, on the first floor, with Doric columns. This room is lighted from a cone ceiling, decorated with emblems of commerce and other ornaments. It leads to the import-room, commonly called the long-room, seventy-five feet square, divided by rows of columns on each side, leaving an area of forty feet wide and thirty high. The columns are of Bath-stone standing on pedestals; behind which are the desks and other accommodations for the different officers, and a sufficient space for transacting business. There is a beautiful staircase which communicates from the north end of this room, built of Bath-stone, decorated with composite columns, the capitals of which are composed of naval emblems. From this staircase you pass by an anti leading to the board-room in the north front, the lower part of which is appropriated to secretaries apartment s, whit residences for t he commissioners at each end. This building has the advantage of four fronts, of which that towards the south is of Portland-stone. The principal, or south front, situated towards the river, is composed of pavilions at each end, with insulated columns. The basement is united with the centre building by rusticated arcades: this part is likewise composed of insulated columns, besides the portico in the middle, which consists of four columns. The order is Doric, and finished with an entablature, having a bold projecting // cornice. Over the portico there is a pediment with figures in alto-relievo, composed by Carlini, but executed by Smith, an Irish artist, whose genius does honour to his native country: the subject is Hibernia and Britannia united, holding in their hands the respective emblems of Peace and Liberty: they are seated in a naval car, drawn by sea-horses, and accompanied by Tritons, followed by a fleet of merchant ships, loaded with the produce of different nations, and wafted by the trade-winds. On the right hand of Britannia, Neptune is seen driving away Envy and Discord. On the attic story over the pediment are placed four allegorical statues, alluding to Industry, Commerce, Wealth, and Navigation. A cupola, one hundred and twenty-five feet from the base of the building, handsomely decorated with Corinthian columns, finishes the centre, on the top of which is placed a pedestal, with a colossal statue representing Commerce. The pavilions and, arcades are finished with a balustrade; the centres of the pavilions are terminated with arms of Ireland in an elliptical shield, decorated with festoons of fruit and flowers, and supported by the lion and unicorn, forming a group of bold and massy ornaments. The principal entrances are ascended to by a flight of steps; the key-stones are decorated with colossal heads, emblematic of the produce of the principal rivers of Ireland and the // country through which they flow, strongly characteristic of each. They were designed and executed by Mr. Edward Smith, before mentioned, in a bold and masterly manner. This building, which may be considered the chef d'oeuvre of Mr. Gandon, was begun in the year 1781, and is remarkable for the grandeur and beauty of its outlines, and the elegance of its parts. [pp. 482-485]
The Custom House