Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Plan for College Green buildings

The Bank of Ireland on College Green, Dublin

A new state-run cultural and heritage centre is to be established at the Bank of Ireland's landmark College Green premises in Dublin city centre.

Historical exhibitions and cultural events will be held at the former seat of the Irish parliament.

The bank is making the space available to the Government for 10 years and refurbishment work is expected to begin once planning permission is granted.

Heritage minister Jimmy Deenihan said: " The importance of the College Green buildings is recognised by us all.

"These are nationally and internationally important heritage buildings which have played a significant role in Irish history.

"I am delighted that today's announcement will deliver a public cultural and heritage centre at the heart of the College Green buildings."

When the overhaul is complete, management of the centre will be the responsibility of the minister's Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, in conjunction with the bank.

The building, with its imposing Ionic columns and recognisable screen wall, served as the seat of both houses of the Irish parliament for most of the 18th century until its abolition when Ireland became part of the United Kingdom.

After 1800 the Bank of Ireland bought it from the British Government.

Richie Boucher, chief executive of the bank, said: "We recognise that whilst we are focused on making a very significant contribution to Ireland's future economic progress, we are also custodians of the Bank's own history and heritage and that our College Green buildings are a very important part of Ireland's history and heritage.

"We are conscious that over the next few years Ireland will commemorate and celebrate the centenaries of a number of major events in its history including the founding of the State.

"Bank of Ireland is pleased to demonstrate its important, longstanding role in supporting the communities we serve in Ireland through this initiative and we look forward to working with Government in the development of this new Cultural and Heritage Centre."

In 2010 the Bank of Ireland resisted calls for the historic building to be handed over to the Irish people as acknowledgement of the multi-billion euro bailout.

The College Green building dates from 1729 when it was built under the supervision of Edward Lovett Pearce. It remained as a parliament building until the Act of Union in 1800 and was the headquarters of the Bank of Ireland from 1803 until the 1970s when the bank moved its HQ to Baggot Street.

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