Liberty Hall is a building that divides opinion, more than most.
“Horrendous”, “Eyesore”, and “Bloody hideous yoke” are among the less offensive comments directed at this iconic Dublin landmark.
Not for me. I look at it’s smooth lines and I see beauty, striking design and a century of history. From the Easter Rising in 1916, when the original two storey building was employed as a munitions factory, to the infamous 1972 UVF car bomb explosion which rocked the (by now 16 storey) building to it’s foundations.
But it survived, and indeed thrived. In recent times, it’s acted as the headquarters for SIPTU, and it also houses the Liberty Hall Theatre and Conference Centre, where I had the pleasure of seeing journalist Jon Ronson in conversation about one of his books, ‘The Psychopath Test’. I knew him from his days writing for ‘The Guardian’. I can still remember the tears of laughter rolling down my face when I first came across his ‘bungled condolences’ article. He has a gift for seeing the humour in the habitual, the banal.
2013 marked the centenary of the 1913 Dublin Lockout, echoes of which are seen in Yeats’ reflective ‘September 1913’. As part of the commemorations, Liberty Hall received a temporary facelift, the covers were removed in 2014. Sadly, this modernist masterpiece is under threat, SIPTU have already tried (and failed) to have it demolished, however it’s future remains uncertain. Still not convinced? Perhaps Paddy Cahill’s illuminating documentary will change that. A fitting tribute to one of Dublin’s most ambitious buildings.