Casino Marino

Casino Marino


Casino, Marino You might have heard that there is a casino
in Marino but this one is not of the gambling kind…and one could easily miss it because
it is not on a main road but when you travel on the Malahide Road northwards and look across
the playing fields on the left just after the junction with Griffith Avenue, you can
glimpse a white building on higher ground at the far end which looks like an ancient
Roman temple. This is the Casino in Marino. It is regarded as one of the finest eighteenth-century
buildings not only in Dublin but also in Europe. ‘Casino’ is the Italian word for ‘small
house’ and the Casino looks very small from the outside, but when you go inside, you can
see that it is actually quite large. It has sixteen rooms on three floors. It was built
as a summerhouse for the 1st Earl of Charlemont on his large country estate in Marino, a place
where he could go if he wanted to get away from the hustle and bustle of the city. It was designed by Sir William Chambers, the
architect to the King of England. Sir William was a friend of Lord Charlemont and he also
designed his townhouse on Parnell Square, which is now the Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery
of Modern Art. However, Sir William was actually never in Ireland – he just sent the plans
and let other people supervise the building. The Casino was built around 1770 in a style
called Neo-Classicism. It was the most modern style at the time and it tried to make buildings
look like old Roman or sixteenth-century Italian buildings. This is why the Casino has tall
columns and is completely symmetrical, which means that all sides are exactly the same.
It has lions guarding each corner, steps leading up to the doors and decorated containers shaped
like a vase – these are called urns – on the roof. It even has central heating like
an old Roman villa. All you had to do was light the fireplaces and the whole building
was heated. But all is not as it seems and there are some
tricks in the building. The outer columns contain downpipes from the gutter for carrying
rainwater from the roof and the urns hide the chimneys from the fireplaces inside. The
whole building is full of ideas and surprises. In 1881 Lord Charlemont’s estate was sold
and nobody looked after the Casino for many years. It took ten years to restore it and
it reopened in 1984. Now you can visit it again as it is all that is left of Lord Charlemont’s
estate.

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