The Museum Building Trinity College Dublin: then and now

Posted on: 27 July 2021

Patrick Wyse Jackson

In 1856 James Robinson a photographer of Grafton Street was commissioned to photograph the Museum Building then being erected in Trinity College Dublin.  His photograph (top) captures a number of people on site including one of the celebrated O’Shea brothers who is carving a metope high up just beneath the cornice.  Around the building blocks of Caen Stone from France are being worked for use for the internal walls of the central hallway. Stone was brought to the site in carts pulled by horses. The 1856 scaffolding looks quite flimsy being made of timber when compared with the modern day variety that currently surrounds the building (bottom). Another major difference is the large crane which is being used today to lift Welsh slate being fitted to the roof. This material is replacing similar stone that has come to the end of its natural life after 165 years.  When the building was being built stone was probably winched into place using ropes, chains and pulleys rather than with a large crane. Today all personnel on site wear appropriate safety gear including hard hats; note the headgear of the gentleman in the right foreground of Robinson’s view!


Source of images: Top from Christine Casey and Patrick Wyse Jackson The Museum Building of Trinity College Dublin (Four Courts Press, 2019, fig. 10.7); Bottom: Patrick Wyse Jackson