We begin our tour by standing at Talbot Street looking at the front elevation. Amongst the hubbub, take in the enormity of the central tower, the symmetry of the colonnade, the three storeys and its central entrance. Originally called Amiens Street, Connolly Station was designed by William Deane Butler for the Dublin and Drogheda Railway (DDR) which opened in 1844, but the station was not complete until 1846. The grey stone is Wicklow granite. To the right of the building are white canopies above the Luas platforms. There stood a large ramp starting at road-level and rising up to the main concourse on the second storey.
In 1876 the Great Northern Railway of Ireland (GNRI) was established. It was an amalgamation of already established railway routes, including the DDR. Amiens Street became the GNRI’s Dublin terminus and the company and its first engineer in chief, William Hemingway Mills, started making changes.
Safely cross the road and walk toward the red sandstone building to the left of the station, on Sheriff Street. Notice the iron columns which support the railway platform above. The red building was the GNRI’s headquarters designed by John Lanyon in 1876. Its style mimics that of Butler’s Italianate station.
Abutting Lanyon’s red offices is one of Dublin’s many Loop Line bridges. Built in 1891 for the City of Dublin Junction Railway linking Amiens Street with Westland Row, this bridge was designed by George Mills, son of the GNRI’s chief engineer, W. H. Mills.
Just behind Lanyon’s offices across the yard stands a large extension for the Loop Line platforms and offices: the red, yellow and blue-black brickwork provide a richness to this extension. It was designed by W. H. Mills.
Returning to the front of the station, we enter through the central doorway. There used to be a large flight of steps leading up to the first floor – notice the high doorway. This ground floor level was designed for service quarters, which is why the ceilings are low – passengers were not intended to see down here!
Make your way up to the station concourse. Here is where the original ramp would have left you at a decorated porch added by the GNRI in the 1890s. On the concourse there used to be a large central wooden ticket office. There was a sweets and books stall, telephone boxes, luggage and cloak rooms, as well as parcels and post offices on the first floor (beneath your feet). Madigan’s Bar was originally a passenger buffet, restaurant and bar.
Stand by the ticket barriers and look along the platform to the left. The GNRI added these expansive red brick offices and waiting rooms in the 1880s, using their favourite polychromatic brickwork.
The original station roof was designed by the chief engineer for the DDR, John Macneill. Born in Louth, Macneill was the first professor of Engineering at Trinity College Dublin. His roof was replaced by W. H. Mills and again more recently. Macneill also designed the supporting columns which crossed Sheriff Street.
The site of innovation, military occupation, pioneering electrification, communication and construction technology, the four architects and engineers William Deane Butler, John Macneill, John Lanyon and William Hemingway Mills left their legacy in the materials and craftsmanship of Dublin’s busiest railway station.
Time for a refreshment!
Photography by Siobhan Osgood.