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Irish Museum Modern Art

By damian, Sunday, 11th March 2012 | 0 comments
Filed under: Museums, Family Fun, Free Stuff, See & do Dublin.

Royal Hospital Kilmainham / Irish Museum Modern Art (IMMA)
Before the Royal Hospital existed, the site was a 7th century Early Christian monastery of Cill Maighneann, from which Kilmainham takes its name.


It is believed this monastery survived until the 9th century, about the time Scandinavian raiders or Vikings arrived here. In the 12th century after the Anglo Norman invasion a large tract of land was given to the Knights of St. John of Jerusalem, to found a Hospital and priory which stood here until the mid 1600s.

The building you see today sits on a 60 acre site first opened in 1684 from designs by Sir William Robinson, official State Surveyor General for James Butler 1st Duke of Ormonde. Butler was Lord Lieutenant; he acted as the representative of the Monarchy in Ireland for King Charles II. It was Butler after spending time in France and inspired by Hotel Les Invalides in Paris, who instigated the building of the Royal Hospital. It is regarded as the finest 17th-century building in Dublin and started the city’s golden age of architectural development.

It was established as a hospital for wounded or invalid soldiers, and continued in that use for over 250 years. It was the world’s second oldest such institution, with cost of construction approximately £22,500 met by a levy on soldiers’ pay. The fact that troops would now be cared for when they retired or wounded would increase morale among the serving men. The Wren Royal Hospital in Chelsea was completed two years later and contains many similarities of style.

The hospital was built in the form of a quadrangle with a large courtyard in the centre. On one side of the quadrangle was a dining hall, chapel and masters accommodation, with arcades on the remaining three sides allowing the soldiers to exercise during wet weather. The front of the hospital faces north towards the river Liffey and looks across the formal gardens. Other things to see include the meadows, tree lined avenues, medieval burial grounds surrounding it and not to forget the Richmond Gate a gothic revival style gate, is the west entrance into the Hospital.

It ceased being a working hospital in 1927 and over the next 50 years or so, fell into a serious state of disrepair. A huge restoration project took place in 1984 by the Government, for its 300th anniversary costing 20 million pounds. It received the prestigious Europa Nostra award in 1985 for conserving Europes architectural heritage. Nowadays it is one of country’s premier banqueting venues, for conferences, product launches, gala banquets and exhibitions.

Irish Museum of Modern Art (IMMA) was established in 1991 and is based in the Royal Hospital building. The Museum presents many exciting and dynamic exhibitions throughout the year, and is regarded as Ireland’s leading gallery for the collection and presentation of modern and contemporary works of art. In studios next door to the main building, occasionally visitors can actually see art being made and talk to the artists. The museum is a popular attraction, receiving over 400,000 visitors each year. It has free admission and inside you will also find a café and bookshop. It is open Tuesday-Saturday 10-530, Sunday 12-5, closed all day Monday.

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