Royal Hospital Kilmainham – Dublin (Ireland)
The Royal Hospital Kilmainham in Kilmainham, Dublin, is one of the finest 17th-century buildings in Ireland.
The hospital was built in 1684 by Sir William Robinson, official State Surveyor General for James Butler, 1st Duke of Ormonde and Lord Lieutenant of Ireland to King Charles II, as a home for retired soldiers and continued in that use for over 250 years. The style is based on Les Invalides in Paris with a formal facade and a large courtyard. The Royal Hospital Chelsea in Chelsea, London was completed two years later and also has similarities in style.
The Richmond Tower at the end of the formal avenue leading to the Royal Hospital was designed by Francis Johnston, one of the leading architects of the day. This gateway originally stood beside the river Liffey at Bloody Bridge (now Rory O’More Bridge), but had to be moved after the arrival of the railway in 1844 increased traffic congestion. He had placed his personal coat of arms above the arch, concealed by a piece of wood painted to match the stone, his idea being that his arms would be revealed to future generations after the wood became rotten. However, his little trick was uncovered when the gateway was taken down for removal. The coat of arms at present on the gateway is that of the Royal Hospital. Recently part of the structure collapsed and the gate is closed until further notice.
The Royal Hospital Kilmainham graveyards, including Bully’s Acre, are located 400 meters to the west. A cross-shaft in the former cemetery may be the remains of a boundary cross associated with a ninth century monastery located at this site.
The Royal Hospital in Kilmainham was finally restored by the Irish Government in 1984 (its 300th anniversary) and controversially opened as the Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA).
The Irish Museum of Modern Art also known as IMMA, is Ireland’s leading national institution exhibiting and collecting modern and contemporary art. The museum opened in May 1991 and is located in Royal Hospital Kilmainham, a 17th-century building near Heuston Station.