Created By: ULSARA
Molyneux House was the second incarnation of an Asylum for Blind Females. The first Asylum was built on Peter Street and opened its doors in 1815. It operated there for forty-seven years until the home moved to new, purpose-built premises in the grounds of Christ Church, Leeson Park.
Both the church and the asylum were designed by the young Dublin architect, James Rawson Carroll, 1830 - 1911, who won the competition for the buildings in 1859 shortly before he was thirty. The church was built so that the income from pew rents, which was substantial in this growing and fashionable district, could subsidise the costs of running the Molyneux home. Carroll's success in the competition would serve to launch him as an architect much employed within the Church of Ireland and for domestic and commercial work as well. The home was originally designed to accommodate twenty-five blind females and a new south porch was added to the church to provide them with convenient access to its services.
A House of Commons Report upon the Principal Charitable Institutions of Dublin, dated May 1, 1835, contains a favourable account of the Molyneux Asylum, the account beginning as follows:
“Until the year 1815 there did not exist any institution whatever in Ireland for the support, relief, or education of the female poor who were afflicted by the loss of sight. In the early part of that year, or latter part of the preceding year, the Rev. John Crosthwaite communicated to Mr Hughes and Mr Ferrier the design of such an institution; a house was accordingly taken and a prospectus issued, and on 1st June 1815 the institution was opened, though at that time the funds were not sufficient for its support. Astley’s Amphitheatre (which formed part of the premises taken by the trustees) a building which consisted of upright posts, supporting a canvass covering, was converted, by substituting walls for the posts, into a chapel for the celebration of divine services, according to the forms of the Church of England, to which a roof was added after the expiration of about six years …..”
This point of interest is part of the tour: Upper Leeson Street Area Dublin Walking Tour