This replica of Les Invalides in Paris is regarded as the most important 17th-century building in Ireland. Commissioned as a hospice for disabled and veteran soldiers by James Butler—the Duke of Ormonde and viceroy to King Charles II—it was completed in 1684, making it the first building erected in Dublin's golden age. It survived into the 1920s as a hospital, but after the founding of the Irish Free State in 1922, the building fell into disrepair. The entire edifice has since been restored. The architectural highlight is the hospital's Baroque chapel, distinguished by its extraordinary plasterwork ceiling and fine wood carvings.
Irish Museum of Modern Art. The Royal Hospital also houses the Irish Museum of Modern Art, which concentrates on the work of contemporary Irish artists such as Richard Deacon, Richard Gorman, Dorothy Cross, Sean Scully, Matt Mullican, Louis le Brocquy, and James Coleman. The museum also displays works by some non-Irish 20th-century greats, including
Picasso and Miró, plus recent hotshots like Damien Hirst, and regularly hosts touring shows from major European museums. Café Itsa serves light fare such as soups and sandwiches. The hospital is a short ride by taxi or bus from the city center and there is a Luas stop nearby. Kilmainham La., Dublin West, Dublin, Co. Dublin, Dublin 8. 01/612–9900. www.imma.ie. Free. Tues. and Thurs.–Sat. 10–5:30, Wed. 10:30–5:30, Sun. noon–5:30; tours Tues.–Fri. at 1:15, Sat. at noon and 4, Sun. 2:30 and 4.
Nov 11, 2008
The building itself is the most worthwhile aspect of this attraction -- very striking. The art collection inside is a hit-and-miss grab bag of 20th century art, less essential than that of similar galleries in other major cities. At least it's free.