THE HISTORY OF OUR BUILDING (IRRS HQ)
The building housing the IRRS HQ in Dublin, which comprises of our Library, Museum and Archive, was until the 1980s the old offices of the railway ‘Goods Department’. The structure is a large and handsome limestone one built in 1883 and costing £2,300, with a brick extension of 1913 costing £2,046. In 1846 when train service began running from Kingsbridge (the former name for Heuston Station), the Goods or Merchandise Department consisted of a large shed and sidings between the main line and the River Liffey a quarter of a mile west of the main station.
As traffic increased and more clerical staff was needed to process it, Mr Bayley, the Great Southern & Western Railway (GS&WR) engineer, was instructed in 1882 to suggest plans for improved Good’s clerks accommodation. The GS&WR’s Traffic and Works Committee minutes record: “Read a letter from Mr Bayley enclosing rough plan of proposed new office for the Kingsbridge Goods Department, the cost of which he thinks would be around £2,500. It was ordered that an amended plan for two storey (sic) office be prepared”.
In March 1913 plans were submitted to the directors for a proposed extension (the four bay brick extension now housing the library on its first floor) to the Goods Offices at a cost of £2046. Around this time Sean Heuston, one of Dublin’s 1916 Easter Rising leaders, was appointed as a railway clerk and worked in the building. Kingsbridge Station was renamed ‘Heuston Station’ in his honour in 1966.
The advent of container traffic made thousands of railway wagons and the Goods Store itself, which was opposite this building (and now the car park), redundant and both wagons and the goods store disappeared. By the early 1980s, these offices also had become redundant. CIÉ, the Irish Transport Company, was undergoing an internal reorganisation and there were plans to re-open the old Drumcondra Station in the north Dublin City, which was then home to our Library and Archives for some thirteen years. So the Irish Railway Record Society which was founded in 1946, moved with its Archives, Library and collection of railwayana into the old Kingsbridge Goods Offices building in 1983 – the year incidentally that the building celebrated its centenary.
In reality the building has remained substantially the same since 1913, the erection and removal of internal walls alone reflecting its changes of use, while the two original marble fireplaces in the managers’ offices at the east end remain in situ. Our collections continue to grow and there can be no more valuable or appropriate use to which this fine building can be put than to be a national resource for Irish Transport Research.
(source: Leckey, Joseph, “The Irish Railway Record Society Headquarters” in IRRS 1946-1996 – A Commemorative Booklet, 1996 13-15 with additional information by TM 08/14)