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Newman House, 85-86 St Stephen's Green | 13 June - 2 July | Chronoscope

Building History

Newman House, the original home for UCD, comprises three buildings - two Georgian town houses and a Victorian hall.  The two townhouses, Numbers 85 and 86 St Stephen’s Green are notable for their fine interiors and splendid plasterwork.

Newman House
Newman House, 85-86 St Stephen's Green

Number 85 built in 1738 as a private house for Hugh Montgomery was designed by Richard Castle and is in the palladian style. The German born architect Richard Castle was one of the most prolific architects in Ireland in the first half of the eighteenth century and amongst many other  buildings he designed Carton House, Co. Kildare; Leinster House, Dublin  and Russborough House, Co. Wicklow.

Number 85 was the first stone faced house on St Stephen’s Green and has superb stuccowork by the Swiss Lafranchini brothers. The Apollo Room on the ground floor contains plasterwork scenes of the nine muses of the arts with a depiction of the Apollo Belevedere above the fireplace. The Saloon on the first floor has a wonderful ceiling with classical scenes of good government and prudent economy and is one of the best eighteenth century interiors in Ireland.

Entrance hall number 85, St Stephen’s Green
Entrance hall number 85, St Stephen’s Green   

Number 85 was restored on a phased basis from 1989 to 1993 and is a notable example of good restoration practice. The architects for the restoration project were Sheehan and Barry and it was funded by the National Heritage Council, Gallaghers Ltd. and UCD Buildings and Services.
Number 86 dates to 1765 and was built by Richard Chapel Whaley. R C Whaley was the father of Buck Whaley a notorious rake and gambler. Number 86 is five bays wide and four storeys over a basement and is one of the largest houses on St Stephen’s Green. It contains fine plasterwork by the Dublin School of Stuccoworkers. The house is particularly notable for the fine stuccowork on the staircase by Robert West the main exponent of the Dublin style of plasterwork.

The Great Stairs, number 86, St Stephen’s Green
The Great Stairs, number 86, St Stephen’s Green

The Aula Maxima was built in 1879 as the main assembly hall for the university.

The precursor of UCD, the Catholic University of Ireland (CUI) was opened in Newman House in 1854 under the rectorship of Dr John Henry Newman and the chancellorship of Dr Paul Cullen. Newman was the pre-eminent theologian and scholar of the Victorian era. A convert to Catholicism, Newman had been a leading member of the Oxford movement and was a renowned scholar and educationalist.  The CUI is the only third-level institution that Newman was involved in establishing and his views on education are described in ‘The Idea of a University’ a series of lectures given in Dublin in 1852.

The Bishop’s Room, Number 86, St Stephen’s Green
The Bishop’s Room, Number 86, St Stephen’s Green

Dr JH Newman felt that it was essential for a catholic university to have a place of worship for the academic staff and student body. University Church opened in 1856 and was designed by Newman in collaboration with the architect and artist John Hungerford Pollen. It is particularly notable for its use of Irish marble and is in the basilican form of the early Christian church.

Other notable figures associated with the building include the Jesuit poet Gerard Manley Hopkins who died here in 1889 and the writer James Joyce who studied here from 1898 to 1902.

Current Building Use

On the 21st February 2005, UCD launched the International Centre for Newman Studies (ICNS). ICNS is an academic centre established by UCD in partnership with the Newman Foundation of Ireland. Its objective is to facilitate study and scholarly research into the life, times and work of John Henry Newman, the founder of the Catholic University of Ireland, subsequently University College Dublin.

Newman House is currently used as a unique event venue as well as being available for guided tours of its rich history and architecture.  It also houses various UCD administrative and other units including the UCD Press,  RAI Dictionary of National Biography, Irish Folk Music and the Knowth Project.

Newman House is available for hire as avenue for a range of functions. Please contact Ruth Ferguson, Curator of Newman House for details.

For a Google map showning the location of Newman House, click here.


Ruth Ferguson
Curator of Newman House
St Stephen's Green
t: 01 7167427
e: ruth.ferguson@ucd.ie



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