Dublin Vice-Regal Government


Dublin is the seat of the Vice-regal government, consisting of a lord-lieutenant and privy council, assisted by a chief secretary, under-secretary, and a large establishment of inferior officers and under-clerks both for state and the despatch of business. The official residence of the lord-lieutenant, is Dublin Castle, first appropriated to that purpose in the reign of Elizabeth; but his usual residence is the Vice-regal Lodge, in the Phoenix Park. The buildings of the Castle form two quadrangles, called the Upper and Lower Yards. The Upper, 280 feet by 130, contains the lord-lieutenant's apartments, which occupy the whole of the south and part of the east sides; the council-chamber and offices connected with it; the apartments and offices of the chief secretary, and of several of the officers of the household; and the apartments of the master of the ceremonies, and of the aides de camp of the viceroy.

The entrance into this court is on the north side by a massive gateway towards the east end, ornamented by a figure of Justice above the arch; and towards the west end is a corresponding gateway, which is not used, ornamented by a figure of Fortitude; both by Van Nost. The approach to the vice-regal apartments is under a colonnade on the south side, leading into a large hall, and thence by a fine staircase to the state apartments, containing the presence chamber and the ball-room; in the former is the throne of gilt carved work, under a canopy of crimson velvet richly ornamented with gold lace; the latter, which, since the institution of the order of St. Patrick, has been called St. Patrick's Hall, has its walls decorated with paintings, and the ceiling, which is panelled in three compartments, has in the centre a full-length portrait of George III., supported by Liberty and Justice, with various allegorical devices. Between the gateways, on the north side of the court, are the apartments of the dean of the chapel royal and the chamberlain, a range of building ornamented with Ionic columns rising from a rusticated basement and supporting a cornice and pediment, above which is the Bedford Tower, embellished with Corinthian pillars and surmounted by a lofty dome, from the summit of which the royal standard is displayed on days of state.

In the eastern side of the Upper Yard, is the council-chamber, a large but plain apartment, in which the lord-lieutenants are publicly sworn into office, and where the privy council holds its sittings. The privy council consists of the lord-primate, the lord-chancellor, the chief justices, and a number of prelates, noblemen, public functionaries, and others nominated by the King. This body exercises a judicial authority, especially in ecclesiastical matters, as a court of final resort, the duties of which are discharged by a committee selected from among the legal functionaries who are members of it.

The Lower Yard is an irregular area, 250 feet long and 220 feet wide; in it are the treasury buildings, of antiquated style and rapidly decaying; the ordnance department, a modern brick building; and the office of the quartermaster-general, besides which are the stables, riding-house, and the official residence of the master of the horse. To the east of the Record Tower is the Castle chapel, rebuilt at an expense of £42,000, principally after a design by Johnston, and opened in 1814; it is an elegant structure, in the later style of English architecture. The interior is lighted on each side by six windows of elegant design, enriched with tracery and embellished with stained glass: the east window, which is of large dimensions and of beautiful design, is of stained glass, representing our Saviour before Pilate, and the four Evangelists in compartments, with an exquisite group of Faith, Hope, and Charity; it was purchased on the continent and presented to the chapel by Lord Whitworth, during his vice-royalty.

The Phoenix Park, situated westward of the city, and north of the Liffey, is 7 miles in circumference, comprising, an area of 1759 acres enclosed by a stone wall. Its name is derived from the Irish term Finniske, "a spring of clear water," now corrupted into Phoenix. A lofty fluted Corinthian pillar resting on a massive pedestal, and having on the abacus a phoenix rising from the flames, was erected near the lord-lieutenant's lodge by the Earl of Chesterfield, when chief governor.

The Vice-regal Lodge was purchased from Mr. Clements, by whom it was built, and was originally a plain mansion of brick. Lord Hardwicke, in 1802, added the wings, in one of which is the great dining-hall; the Duke of Richmond, in 1808, built the north portico of the Doric order, and the entrance lodges from the Dublin road; and Lord Whitworth added the south front, which has a pediment supported by four Ionic columns of Portland stone, from a design by Johnston, and the whole of the facade was afterwards altered to correspond with it: the demesne attached to the lodge comprises 162 acres.

The Wellington memorial occupies an elevated position: it consists of a massive truncated obelisk, 205 feet high from the ground, resting on a square pedestal 24 feet high, based on a platform 480 feet in circuit, and rising by steps to the height of 20 feet. On each side of the pedestal are sunken panels intended to receive sculptures in alto relievo, representing the principal victories of the duke; and on each side of the obelisk are enumerated all his battles, from his first career in India to the victory at Waterloo. In front of the eastern side of the pedestal rises another of small proportions, for an equestrian statue of the duke after his decease. It has been so far completed at an expense of £20,000. The park contains residences for the ranger, the principal secretary of state, the under secretary at war, and the under secretary of the civil department.

The Powder magazine, erected in 1738, is a square fort, with half bastions at the angles, surrounded by a dry ditch, and entered by a drawbridge; in the interior are the magazines, which are bomb-proof and well secured against accidental fire. It is defended by ten 24 pounders. Near the Vice-regal Lodge a level space of about 50 acres, cleared of trees, is used as a place of exercise and reviews for the troops of the garrison. The park also contains the buildings of the Hibernian school for soldiers' children, the buildings erected by the Ordnance for the trigonometrical survey of Ireland, the Military Infirmary, and the garden of the Zoological society. Near one of the entrances to the Vice-regal Lodge, in a wooded glen, is a chalybeate spa surrounded with pleasure grounds, and furnished with seats for invalids, fitted up at the expense of the Duchess Dowager of Richmond for the accommodation of the public.

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