30 January-National Gallery of Ireland

The National Gallery of Ireland is located in Dublin city centre. There is a bronze statue of Carlow engineer William Dargan in the forecourt of the Gallery. The statue was erected in recognition of the role Dargan played in the establishment of the Gallery. It was temporarily moved from its plinth on April 30th 2014 to allow for refurbishment of the building. The statue, which has been in its location for 150 years was returned to its plinth when works were completed in 2016.

William Dargan was born near Carlow town, Ireland on February 28th 1779. The Irish rail network and the National Gallery of Ireland are just two of the areas where Dargan made a major impact on Ireland. Often referred to as the father of the Irish rail network Dargan was offered a baronetcy by Queen Victoria when she visited him at his home in Mount Annville in Dublin in 1853. He declined the offer.

A great exhibition had taken place at Crystal Palace in London in 1851. Dargan offered to fund a similar exhibition in Dublin. What became known as The Great Industrial Exhibition opened on Leinster Lawn in Dublin on May 12th 1853. The Dublin exhibition was the first World Fair to have an exhibition of art. It was given an enthusiastic response by the visitors. The number of visitors exceeded one million, many of whom came on the railways built by Dargan. Among the visitors on August the 29th was Queen Victoria, the Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales.

Following the exhibition two committees were founded to promote the establishment of the National Gallery of Ireland, as a mark of gratitude to Dargan. The campaign was successful and the Gallery was built on Leinster Lawn, ten years after the Great Industrial Exhibition. The Gallery has been extended on several occasions to accommodate its large collection of Irish and European art.

The National Gallery of Ireland was officially opened to the public by the Earl of Carlisle in the year 1864 On This Day.

National Gallery of Ireland

National Gallery of Ireland photo

Dargan Statue Outside The National Gallery of Ireland by dahon

National Gallery of Ireland

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