Well, you may be wondering what I played at the Casino, was it slot machines, blackjack, or (my favourite) roulette…and how much did I win, or lose….It was not that kind of Casino! This Casino, or Casine, comes from the Italian and means ‘small house’, and is an 18th century architectural masterpiece in miniature.
The building was designed in 1759 as a pleasure house for James Caulfeild, the 1st Earl of Charlemont. James left Ireland at the age of 18 to do the ‘grand tour’ of Europe, and stayed away for about 9 years. He fell in love with Italy and its many villas, and on his return to Ireland he commissioned one of the finest architects of the time, Sir William Chambers, to create a garden temple from which he could overlook the magnificent Dublin Bay, and the Dublin mountains beyond.
Widely regarded as the most important Neo-Classical building in Ireland, the Casino is actually quite small, measuring only fifty feet square to the outer columns. In plan, it takes the form of a Greek Cross with a pair of columns framing each projecting elevation. Seen from the outside, the building has the appearance of a single roomed structure, with a large panelled door on the north elevation and a single large window on each of the other elevations. This is all illusion, however, as it actually contains 16 rooms on three floors. Only two of the panels in the door open to allow entrance, and the panes of glass in the windows are subtly curved, disguising the partitioning which allows what looks like a single window to serve several separate rooms.
Many other tricks are used throughout the construction in order to preserve the apparent simplicity of the design. Four of the columns which surround the building are hollow and,with a length of chain dangling in each, allows rainwater to drain down. The Roman funerary urns on the roof (designed by James Gandon) are used as chimneys.
The interior, by Simon Vierpyl, includes a basement level with a kitchen and associated rooms, a main floor with reception rooms and a top storey with servants rooms and a State Bedroom. It contains some very fine plasterwork ceilings and some elaborate hardwood parquet floors.
Originally the Casino was linked to Marino House by a tunnel, although this has been blocked off due to building works in the area. (Source : Wikipedia)
There are guided tours of the building, which are very interesting and informative, and we were amazed at all the different methods used to make the layout and the rooms look larger than they were, like the curved ceilings, curved doors, and the absolute symmetry of everything in each room – if there was a door on one wall, there was a matching door on the other wall, even if it only led to a cupboard. The furnishings are in the Georgian style, and there are magnificent wooden patterned parquet floors.
The building was taken over in the 1970s by Heritage Ireland, when it was in a very bad state of repair, and they have done a marvellous job in restoring this miniature to its former beauty, and this work is ongoing.
I hope you enjoy the gallery, and if you are ever in Dublin, it is well worth going to visit this Casino,which is between Clontarf and Malahide.
Sir James Caulfeild
Detail on outside
Lions guarding the four corners
A lion with a view of Dublin Mountains
The urns on the roof which were the chimneys
Marble carving found in the garden
Detail of the wooden floors
The Garden Room