Controversy rages as Hugh Lane Collection moved to Mansion House in Dublin
Antonia Mancini, Portrait of Sir Hugh Lane (1904) Photo: Dublin City Gallery The Hugh Lane

Controversy rages as Hugh Lane Collection moved to Mansion House in Dublin

Published: 2 August 1913

The controversy over the building of a Municipal Gallery in Dublin to house the collection of paintings and statues donated by Sir Hugh Lane to the city of Dublin continues to divide opinion in the city.

Dublin Corporation has yet to reach a final decision on whether to proceed with building a new Gallery spanning the River Liffey to house the collection. The proposed gallery – designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens – is planned to replace the current Ha’penny Bridge and it is estimated it will cost £43,000.

Dublin Corporation’s proposal to contribute £22,000 to the project has been bitterly condemned by opponents led by the businessman and newspaper proprietor, Mr William Martin Murphy.

Criticism from Mr. Murphy and his supporters relates to the proposed site of the Gallery over the River Liffey and the decision of Dublin Corporation to spend such a sum of money on its construction. Concerns were expressed that the cost of the proposed Gallery will spiral far beyond estimates and that the Corporation will be left to foot the bill.

In response, Sir Hugh Lane has undertaken to cover any sum in excess of £45,000 that might be needed to complete the Gallery, providing it is incurred in a reasonable manner. The design for the Gallery is currently being assessed by the City Architect and the Borough Surveyor.

The final decision of the Corporation is expected within six weeks. Sir Hugh Lane has agreed to send his collection to the Mansion House pending the outcome of these deliberations.

Printed textile with reproduction of eight drawings of Abbey actors by John Butler Yeats, with photograph of actors and quotes from W.B. Yeats and Lady Gregory. Produced to support the Hugh Lane bequest of pictures to Ireland.
(Image: National Library of Ireland, EPH E207)

After a meeting this morning with Dublin Corporation officials, Sir Hugh Lane said that he remained confident that the Corporation would proceed with the plan to build the Gallery across the River Liffey and that they had no intention of stepping away from their commitment to provide £22,000 in funding.

The Irish Worker newspaper, reflecting the gathering labour unease in the capital, has reported that the trade union council had passed a resolution calling on Dublin Corporation to accept the generous offer from Sir Hugh Lane and claimed ‘that the foul methods resorted to by the opposition to the erection of the Gallery is worthy of the chief instigator of the opposition.’

The resolution claimed that the primary motivation of those who opposed the Gallery was ‘to deny the working class access to avenues of advancement and to limit the opportunities of unemployed men getting useful work.’

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