National Bank Building

A grand façade and dramatic interior are not the usual medium of delivering a message of defiance, but this is a very special building.
Under British rule, the Catholic majority were forbidden from doing a wide range of things, including voting, owning land, even adopting orphans.

And … the right to own banks.

Enter Daniel O’Connell, aka The Liberator. Beneficiary of a secret and illegal hedge school education, he went on to become the acknowledged political leader of Irish Catholics.

Amongst his many achievements was being a founder (and eventually chairman) of the first Catholic bank in Ireland, the National Bank, in whose headquarters you now sit.

Opposite was the Bank of Ireland, which until 1845 had a monopoly in Dublin, and on whose front you can still see the British royal arms. This called for a response in kind.

Cue James Pearse, stonemason and father to Willie and Patrick, both executed as revolutionary leaders of the Easter Rising. ‘The Pearse brothers have a street named after them on the other side of Trinity College – the street where they were born, over their father’s workshop.

Pearse’s rooftop statue is of the goddess Eriu, one of the Tuatha Dé Danann. Together with her Irish wolfhound and harp – the same one used for the coat of arms of the country named after her – she stares down the Crown across the street. Her inscription reads…