Capstone Shift:

Architectural Legacies of the Easter Rising and Revolutionary Period in Ireland

Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.
Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.

(Seamus Heaney, Anything Can Happen, District and Circle, 2006)

The early 20th-century Irish revolutionary period has left many legacies, not the least of which was a direct impact on architecture. From the loss of buildings destroyed to the debates about how to repair the city fabric and on to the rebuilding itself, there is ample scope to reflect on the physical impact of the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War, in particular on central Dublin.

Exploring some of these architectural legacies, Capstones Shift is a programme of lectures, exhibitions, conferences, film screenings and publications presented by Dublin City Council and University College Dublin Decade of Centenaries with the support of The Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht and in association with Architecture Ireland, Ireland 2016, The Irish Architectural Archive, The Irish Architecture Foundation, The Irish Film Institute, The National Inventory of Architectural Heritage, The National Library of Ireland and The Royal Institute of the Architects of Ireland.

Spread over the first half of 2016, the Centenary of the Rising, there will be a particular concentration of events throughout the month of June.

Programme of Events


3rd February – 31st August 2016 - AFTER EASTER - Irish Architectural Archive

An exhibition of new large format prints of photographs taken in May 1916 by the noted antiquarian Thomas J Westropp, a vivid, still shocking, record of the destruction wrought to the centre of Dublin between 24th and 29th April 1916.

12th April – 31st August 2016 - EBB And FLOW. Prints from a Belfast fault-line - Irish Architectural Archive

An exhibition of works by Belfast artist Bronagh Lawson reflecting the interface between Republican and Loyalist areas of East Belfast, fault-lines where the reverberations of the events remembered in the ‘Decade of Centenaries’ are still felt in a real and dramatic way. This exhibition is supported by the British Council.

Reconstructions of 1912 and 1916 Public Acts of Document Inscription - Irish Architectural Archive

In June 2016 Dublin’s Irish Architectural Archive will be the site of a multimedia installation that explores two historic events in British and Irish history: the signing of the Covenant and Declaration documents at Belfast City Hall, and the reading of the Proclamation at Dublin’s GPO. A number of artists will examine the representation of the building façades as a backdrop in the media representations of these events and their aftermath. The installation will comprise works such as print, drawing, sculpture, video and interactive digital media and will also include a number of site-specific pieces. The collaborating artists are Niamh McDonnell, Robin Price, Max Surin, Rob Anderson, Edmund Eva and George Baldwin. The project is funded by the British Council and the exhibition will tour to the Linen Hall Library, Belfast. The project partners include PRONI (Public Records Office Northern Ireland) and Fablab Belfast.

10th May – October 2016 - 'CAPSTONES SHIFT'
Architectural Impacts and Legacies of the Revolutionary Period - Irish Architectural Archive

This exhibition draws exclusively on the holdings of the Irish Architectural Archive to focus on a selection of prominent Dublin buildings destroyed or utterly changed by the events of Easter 1916 and later. The shock of widespread building damage was felt first in Dublin and reoccurred there more often than in other affected locations, while the quality of some of the building destroyed, coupled with the fact that Dublin became the capital of the a newly created state, brought a particular intensity to the debates around loss and rebuilding.

2 June, Thursday, 2pm RISING: Exhibition tour
National Photographic Archive, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2

The National Library of Ireland will present a ‘walk and talk’ tour of the exhibition Rising in the National Photographic Archive. This major photographic exhibition showcases the NLI’s rich imagery of the events and locations of 1916. Rising draws on some of the most important collections of photographs at the National Library. The tour will introduce the photographs and collections featured in the exhibition and will focus on architecture. The exhibition includes a number of large scale photographs which emphasise the Rising’s impact on Dublin’s city centre. The images are enhanced by audio recordings of actors reading from selected letters and diaries detailing first-hand accounts of the Rising.


The Irish Architectural Archive, the Royal institute of the Architects of Ireland and its journal Architecture Ireland are collaborating in a joint programme of lectures and articles focusing on a selection of prominent Dublin buildings destroyed or utterly changed by the events of Easter 1916 and later. These buildings were central to myriad social, commercial,political and religious patterns of life. Their absence, or removal from use, would have had an immediate and disconcerting effect on the daily routines and interactions of thousands of ordinary Dubliners as they lived, moved, worked, prayed and entertained themselves in the post-Rising city, quotidian disruptions making unavoidable and un-ignorable the profound political phase-shift that had occurred.

The public lectures take place (alternatively) in the Irish Architectural Archive (45 Merrion Square) and the RIAI (8 Merrion Square) on Tuesday evenings between February and July 2016. All lectures are free of charge and open to the public but booking is required. Booking details are provided below and are on and

23 February, Tuesday, 6pm, RIAI
The GPO – Changed Utterly

Lecture by Stephen Ferguson (An Post) and architect for the GPO Centenary Project, Brian Kavanagh, Kavanagh Tuite Architects

5 April, Tuesday, 6pm, IAA
The Rising and Icons of O’Connell Street

Lecture by Colum O’Riordan, Irish Architectural Archive. BOOK HERE

10 May, Tuesday, 6pm, RIAI
From Nelson’s Pillar to the Spire

Lecture by Donal Fallon author of The Pillar. BOOK HERE

9 June, Thursday, 6pm RIAI
Rebuilding the Nation (The Role of the OPW in Rebuilding)

Lecture by State Architect Ciaran O’Connor. BOOK HERE

14 June, Tuesday, 6pm, IAA
The Great Monumental Avenue of the City’: O’Connell Street and Town Planning, 1911 – 1916

Lecture by Brian Ward. BOOK HERE

21 June, Tuesday, 6pm, RIAI
The Rebuilding of O’Connell Street

Lecture by architect Grainne Shaffrey. BOOK HERE

All lectures will be published in essay-form in Architecture Ireland in 2016.


31st May - 1st June 2016 - CONFLICT + THE CITY - Public conference, Liberty Hall

Conflict underpins architectural and especially urban history. Processes of destruction and reconstruction have made and remade cities across the world. Dublin is not unique in this. The conference aims to share research about what happened to Dublin’s buildings and streets during the revolutionary years 1916-22 while examining elements of its subsequent reconstruction. But it will also place Dublin in a greater European context drawing on contrasting and comparative examples of the role of conflicts in city formation.

Keynote presentations from Professor Luke Gibbons (NUI Maynooth), Professor Wendy Pullan (Cambridge University + Centre for Urban Conflicts Research) and Professor Paul Seawright (University of Ulster).

Talks move from the streets of Dublin to rebuilding Beirut; from Blitz-time London, to Cold War bunkers; and from Calais camps to Belfast's peacelines.

This conference is organised by Irish Research Council post-doctoral fellow, Dr Ellen Rowley and is an initiative of Dublin City Heritage Plan and UCD Decade of Centenaries with the support of the Heritage Council of Ireland.

The conference is hosted by SIPTU, in Liberty Hall Theatre, Dublin 1 For more information, contact Booking for this event will open in April 2016"

The conference will end with a special film screening of Roberto Rossellini’s 1948 film Germany, Year Zero in collaboration with the Irish Film Institute.

1st June 2016 at 7pm - Germany, Year Zero (1948) - Roberto Rossellini - 35mm; German with English subtitles; 78 minutes
2nd - 5th June 2016 - European Architectural History Network: Fourth International Meeting - Dublin Castle

Dublin was chosen for this year’s EAHN conference to link in with the centenary of the Rising. One of the session themes will be Architecture And the Changing Construction Of National Identity, moderated by Gary Boyd, Queens University Belfast and Hugh Campbell, University College Dublin.
For more see

16th June 2016 - 10am-5pm Beyond Participation - The Lighthouse, Smithfield, Dublin 1

Beyond Participation is a conference by the Irish Architecture and funded by The Matheson Foundation.

Participation in architecture is an acknowledgment that design is a conversation in which many people contribute. As a starting point we are taking as a given that participatory practice has a value. An increased interest in participation has already redefined what architecture is in the 21st Century. In our deliberations about the past hundred years through Capstone Shift we see that architecture has shifted from a top down model to a bottom up movement. It is only when we move Beyond Participation that the future of architecture gets really interesting.

Emceed by Diarmaid Lawlor, Head of Urbanism at Architecture and Design Scotland, the 7 international speakers from the US, Europe and Ireland will present different ways of practice, revealing the challenges and barriers, the necessary creative tensions that lead to discovery and enlightenment. The Line up is Relational Urbanism, Grainne Hassett, Irena Bauman, MASS Design Group, Dominic Stevens & Claire McManus and Alastair Parvin.

The choice of speakers is selected for their propensity in questioning the norm, their reinvention, activism and innovation. The case studies will present a diverse range of themes from open source design, gender, ethnicity, technology, to harnessing local skills and will cover projects from housing, health, education and public space.

For more information visit


31st May 2016

MORE THAN CONCRETE BLOCKS: DUBLIN CITY'S C2OTH BUILDINGS + THEIR STORIES, VOLUME I, 1900 - 1939, ed. Ellen Rowley (Dublin City Council and UCD Architecture).

The publication is the first in a series of three books, which are the outcome of a pioneering research and inventory project into the twentieth-century architecture of Dublin City.

Photography by Paul Tierney, Research by Natalie de Roiste, Merlo Kelly, Shane O'Toole, Carole Pollard and Ellen Rowley.


The Conflict + the City conference (see above) will end with a special film screening of Roberto Rossellini’s 1948 film Germany, Year Zero in collaboration with the Irish Film Institute.

June 1st; 19.00

Germany, Year Zero (1948) - Roberto Rossellini - 35mm; German with English subtitles; 78 minutes

18 June 2016 - Dublin Plays Itself - RIFI, 6 Eustace Street, Dublin 2; IAF, 15 Bachelor’s Walk, Dublin 1.

The Irish Architecture Foundation and Irish Film Institute will present a series of walking tours, complemented by film and architectural analysis, which explores the impact of the 1916 Rising on the fabric of Dublin and the post-conflict recovery and evolution of the city in the 100 years since. The lectures will be illustrated by a range of newsreel, actuality and documentary film from the IFI Irish Film Archive.

Details – check IFI and IAF websites and

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