Pembroke Town Hall was built in 1880 as the offices of the fifteen town commissioners. The commissioners governed and provided services for the Pembroke Township from 1863-1930 and were elected by local wealthy landowners of the time. Pembroke Township included Ballsbridge, Ringsend, Irishtown, Donnybrook and Sandymount.
This video is designed as a resource for primary and post-primary students up to Junior Certificate.
Pembroke Town Hall, Ballsbridge
Pembroke Town Hall which dates from 1880 is situated in a prominent position at the junction of Merrion and Anglesea Road. It is a landmark building in Ballsbridge, which means it can be clearly seen from a distance.
It was the offices of fifteen town commissioners who elected by wealthy local land owners. At that time not everybody had the right to vote for their government. The town commissioners governed and provided services to the local area which was called the Pembroke township from 1863 until 1930.
The township was named after the Earl of Pembroke who owned most of the land in the Dublin 4 area. It included Ringsend which was an old fishing village and Irishtown, an industrial district, as well as Ballsbridge, Sandymount and Donnybrook where mostly rich people lived in large houses. The Earl’s agent who looked after his business interests, was appointed chairman of the town commissioners. This gave the Earl a great deal of power over what was happening in the township.
The town commissioners took charge of such things as lighting, footpaths and water supply. A fire service was introduced, and people could use transport in the area. It was up to the commissioners to make sure that good houses and roads were built. The Rock Road from Blackrock to the city, popularly known as the ‘Rocky Road to Dublin’, was famous at the time for its dangerous pot holes. It was a constant problem for the commissioners. They had other problems too, very strange ones, like an infestation of pigs and stray animals in Donnybrook!
The Town Hall was designed in an old medieval style called Gothic by the architect Edward Henry Carson. Many buildings in the nineteenth century were built to look as if they dated from the Middle Ages. The Irish Times of 25 June 1880 seemed to like the building and described it as ‘a credit … to the locality’. The article mentioned some of its fine features, namely:
the ornamental marble pillars at the entrance; a stained glass window at the top of the stairway; a boardroom that would be a ‘model of neatness’. It was equipped with electric bells linked to each department in the building in order to summon the instant attendance of officials when required; modern lavatories (toilets); a handsome clock on the front of the building, serving the neighbourhood, its other side recording the hour in the boardroom; extensive stabling for the commissioners’ horses and sheds for their carts
The Pembroke township came to an end in 1930 and the area was added to the City of Dublin. Ringsend Technical School then occupied the Town Hall until 1951 when the Dublin Vocational Education Committee moved its headquarters there, where they remain until this day.