RIAI Murray Collection

The RIAI presents a limited edited print series from the RIAI Murray Collection, one of the most outstanding collections of architectural drawings in Ireland. It was presented to the RIAI by Albert Murray in 1923, being the last of three generations of his family to have practised as Architects in Dublin. The collection had come down to him through descent from his grandfather William Murray (1787-1849) and father William George Murray (1822-1871).  

The collection contains approximately 1,230 architectural drawings – mostly plans, elevations, sections and a small number of perspectives – as well as some maps, lithographs and manuscripts, which are in the expert care of the Irish Architectural Archive. The whole collection embraces a period of 160 years, the earliest drawing being a plan for Carton House attributed to Richard Castle (c. 1740) and the latest memorial designs of 1901. The drawings record the developments in building types – from jails and asylums to domestic architecture – and architectural styles and illustrate different conventions in architectural practice and technique over a century and a half.  

The limited edition series features four buildings from the collection (150 prints each): Armagh Courthouse, Armagh by Francis Johnston (1805); Kings Inns, Dublin by James Gandon (1800); Town Hall, Cork by Murray & Denny (1851); and The GPO, Dublin by Francis Johnston (1814-1825).

The original artworks are reproduced in beautiful, high-quality lithographic art prints, printed on 260gsm premium ivory recycled uncoated paper, embossed and uniquely numbered.

Court House, Armagh, by Francis Johnston (1805)
420 x 594mm

In January 1805, Francis Johnston prepared his first scheme for a new courthouse sited on the Mall in Armagh town, and surviving drawings make it possible to trace the evolving sophistication of his design through at least five further stages.   

The courthouse is sited at the end of the Mall and is a single-storey five-bay classical building of ashlar limestone. The selected prints depict an interim sketch scheme for the courthouse, which comprises a corresponding plan and elevation to College Hill Road.  

The final design resulted in a pedimented Roman Doric portico on stepped plinth, which shelters an arcade of three full-height arches with prominent keystones. Drawings of the final scheme are not included within the Murray Collection. 

Kings Inns, Dublin, by James Gandon (1800)
594 x 420mm

This is the last and most modest of James Gandon’s public buildings and reportedly among his favourite designs. It was built to replace the old Inns at the Four Courts site, which had fallen into disrepair by the early eighteenth century. 

The print depicts the elevation of the first phase - a nine-bay, two-storey building with concealed basement and attic, with central entrance block surmounted by domed tempietto, which was later extended to fifteen bays. The detail depicts a plan and section through the tempietto from first floor level. 

Town Hall, Cork, by Murray & Denny (1851)
594 x 594mm

The print depicts designs for a new town hall for the city of Cork which were entered into an architectural competition held in 1850-51 for a new town hall at Sullivan’s Quay, Cork. These were produced by Murray and Denny, which were an architectural partnership in Dublin, active from 1849 to 1855.  

The selected extracts from the prints depict the principal thirteen-bay two-storey entrance elevation, and below a section through the entrance hall, principal staircase, library and hall for public assemblies. 

The architects exhibited their selected design at the National Exhibition of the Arts, Manufactures and Products, Cork in 1852. The building was not executed.

The GPO, Dublin, by Francis Johnston (1814-1825)
594 x 594mm

The General Post Office (GPO) on O’Connell Street Lower, Dublin, was originally designed by Francis Johnston (1814-1818), and was rebuilt (1924-1929) by the Office of Public Works. It is one of Ireland’s most symbolic buildings, standing as a monumental three-storey granite-faced building with Greek Iconic hexastyle portico of Portland stone.   

The selected extracts from the print collection depicts the original proposals for the elevation to what was then known as Sackville Street, the ground floor plan, and a cross section. Johnston’s original design comprised a ‘U’-shaped building wrapping around a coach yard accessible via carriageways opening off Henry Street and Prince’s Street. The illustrated elevation reflects designs for a pillared cupola and polygonal drum dome, however this was not realised.

The prints can be viewed in the RIAI and are available for purchase at a cost of €175 inclusive of VAT from the RIAI Bookshop. For enquiries please contact Bróna King, RIAI Bookshop Manager.