Film: James Gandon – A Life

ICC Digital are pleased to present Sé Merry Doyle’s classic documentary ‘James Gandon: A Life’ from The Loopline Collection, courtesy of the Irish Film Archive.
On the night of 26 April 1781, a gout-ridden, middle-aged Englishman boards a Packet Boat in Liverpool bound for Dublin. His arrival is shrouded in secrecy and he is immediately spirited away to the home of one of Ireland’s most powerful men. There he is kept in virtual seclusion to ensure no one discovers the purpose of his visit, as if it becomes known it will almost certainly provoke riots.
Who is this threat to Dublin’s civil order: a spy, a political agitator, a fugitive from justice? In fact it is James Gandon, an obscure London architect who has just been commissioned by a small cadre of Anglo-Irish aristocrats and Protestant Powerbrokers to build a new Custom House for Dublin – the biggest and most controversial project of the day.
The film features other Gandon buildings like the Four Courts, bombed during the civil war, Emo Court donated to the nation by its last owner Choumley Deering Harrison and a rare interview with former Taoiseach of Ireland, Charles J Haughey in his Gandon mansion, Abbeville.
In this unique and important film, we see the first ever examination of the turbulent life and times of the architect James Gandon from today’s perspective. The Custom House catapulted Gandon to fame as Ireland’s finest architect and plunged him into the heart of a British colony on the brink of rebellion.
‘James Gandon: A Life’ is a film that illustrates in sweeping tones the influence and fall of the Protestant Nation’s dreams for Ireland.
Review: “Having hooked you as neatly as a thriller with Gandon’s cloak and dagger arrival in Dublin the film tracks back in time to his beginnings in London… We discover a man of relatively humble origins whose precocious drawing skills win him an apprenticeship to the celebrated architect William Chambers.” – The Sunday Times

Watch the film here

Thank you to Loopline Film and the Irish Film Institute.