'Archer's Garage', Dublin

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The rebuilt Archers Garage, Fenian Street, Dublin 2

'Archer's Garage' is a building located at the corner of Sandwith Street and Fenian Street in the center of Dublin, Ireland, that is currently home to a branch of the KBC bank. The building is a replica of a Grade 1 listed 1940's Art Deco garage previously on the same site that was illegally demolished in 1999 by property developer Noel O'Callaghan, who was subsequently forced to rebuild the garage to original specifications.

The 1946 garage

The original building was constructed in 1946 for Dick Archer, the first agent for Ford motorcars in Ireland.[1] Designed by Arnold Francis Hendy[2], the building provided offices on a first floor level supported over an open ground-level forecourt that allowed for access of vehicles. The building was characterized by a striking circular tower with a flagpole and projecting fins for signage that acted as a corner fulcrum to the two streets.

Illegal demolition

Subsequent to its use as a garage, the building was home to the firm of CWL Electric, and appeared to have fallen into a state of disrepair by the late 1990's. Over the bank holiday weekend of June 1999, contractors working for the hotelier and property developer Noel O'Callaghan demolished the building, apparently in advance of plans for a new office and residential building on the site.[3]

The incident caused a public outcry, and changes to the law under the 2000 Planning and Development Act that would make developers liable for fines of up to £1 million and prison sentences of up to two years for illegal demolitions.

O'Callaghan later insisted he was unaware of the building's listed status, however it came to light that Dublin Corporation had informed planning consultants working for his company Sherborough Securities of the building's protected status four days before its demolition.[4]


Dublin Corporation and O'Callaghan subsequently came to an agreement that the developer would replace the building with an exact replica, at a cost to the developer running into millions of pounds, construction being overseen by the Corporation.

The reconstruction proceeded at the same time as O'Callaghan continued to seek planning permission for an office building on the site. Initially denied permission on the grounds that the building would have a negative impact on the reconstructed garage[5], O'Callaghan was ultimately granted permission for a four story office and residential block that now links to the reconstructed garage via an atrium.

Responses to the new building

Responses to the new garage building when it was unveiled were mixed, with some seeing it as a "reasonably faithful copy of the original"[6], while others expressed disappointment[7], noting the many small changes to detailing, and that the whole building is set back slightly further from the street line than previously.[8]

Lisa Cassidy, on builtdublin.com, has written of how:

"...it’s impossible to shake off the Pet Sematary feeling about the building – not the demonic possession aspect, but the creepiness of reanimation. There isn’t an ‘undo’ function after demolition, and however grand words like ‘reinstate’ might make the process sound, this is a building completed in 2000 to a best-guess version of a 1940s design, and I can’t see how that’s desirable or anything other than a very particular pastiche."[9]

Cassidy notes with dismay that visitors to the building during a 2012 Open House Dublin event mistook it for an original, unaware of the building's troubled history.


  1. Barry Byrne, "Former Archers Garage, Dublin - demolished June 1999", oocities.org, June 1999, retrieved October 18, 2016.
  2. Lisa Cassidy, "Replica, Sandwith Street, Dublin 2," builtdublin.com, November 2012, retrieved October 18, 2016
  3. Ibid.
  4. Grainne Cunningham, "Office scheme beside razed listed building now blocked", Irish Independent, August 18, 2000, retrieved October 18, 2016.
  5. Ibid.
  6. Cassidy, "Replica, Sandwith Street".
  7. Ciarán Cuffe, "My Top 5 Losses," Archiseek, June 13, 2012, retrieved October 18, 2016.
  8. See "Archer’s Garage", forum thread on Archiseek, started June 8, 1999, retrieved October 18, 2016.
  9. Cassidy, "Replica, Sandwith Street".