Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Doors of Dublin

The colorful Doors of Dublin are a steadfast tribute to individuality. Forced to adhere to the strict Georgian style and architectural guidelines, the former Georgian Dublin residents painted their front doors whatever color they fancied, added ornate knockers, elegant fanlights above the door and wrought iron boot scrapers near the entrance. Where once, these doors were all the same color, they became a festive array of colors setting their selves apart.

Of course there are several colorful stories behind the colorful doors that are found on the Georgian town houses south of the Liffey and are an established visual attraction in the capital. Dublin’s equally as famous Georgian Squares were laid out during the Hanoverian period in the 1700s as the city attracted new wealth and rejuvenation.

Before then, Dublin was considered no more than a provincial town in the British Empire, but from about 1715, anti-catholic penal laws were relaxed, which allowed many middle-class Catholics to establish themselves in trade.

At the time, Dublin was ruled by members of a Protestant upper class, descendants of English invaders from Norman, Elizabethan and Cromwellian times. Known as the Protestant Ascendancy these settlers began to push for reforms, better conditions and rights for Catholics and for greater autonomy for the Irish Parliament. Dublin’s Protestants began to build their elegant new Georgian homes beyond the walls of the medieval town.
From the 1950’s onwards, these Georgian homes along with their colorful doors were seen as a relic to Ireland’s colonial past and were destroyed to make way for utilitarian office blocks and government departments. Tourists and the infamous poster “The Doors of Dublin” saved these buildings from certain annihilation.

“The Doors of Dublin” poster was collaged by Bob Fearon, head of an ad agency in NYC who had been in Dublin on a commercial shoot. Struck by the symmetry and beauty of the Georgian doorways, he took photos of forty or more of them for a personal project. Upon completion of the collage, he showed it to Joe Malone, North American Manager of the Bord Failte at the time, who thought it would be perfect for his Irish Tourism office display window on St. Patrick’s Day. The Irish Tourist Board thought so too and bought the rights to the collage. In turn, the Irish Government began to wake up to the rich potential of tourists with their cameras who were drawn like magnets to the squares and halted destruction of these famous buildings. The end result was a poster which became a history-making award winner all over the world.

Experience the history behind the array of colorful doors on a self guided tour of Dublin with Celtic Tours. Learn more about our Dublin Vacations.

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