Dictionary of Irish Architects 1720 - 1940

Architect, of Dublin.   Desmond FitzGerald, eldest son of the writer, nationalist and Free State minister Desmond FitzGerald and his wife Mabel (nĂ©e McConnell), was born in Saint Jean-du-Doigt  in Brittany, France, on 5 November 1911.  He was educated at various schools in Ireland and Switzerland before entering the school of architecture at University College. Dublin, in October 1930.   After graduating in 1934 - his B.Arch thesis was on an airport for Dublin - he studied town planning under PATRICK ABERCOMBIE  PATRICK ABERCOMBIE in London and worked on the area plan for Chermayeff and Mendelsohn's Bexhill Pavilion in Sussex.  On returning to Ireland he joined the staff of the Department of Industry and Commerce, and in 1937 was chosen to lead a team of architects from the Office of Public Works in designing the new Dublin airport at Collinstown.   The building, described by Larmour as the 'most adventurous...elegant, graceful and majestic example of the International Style in Ireland',(1) was completed in 1940 but not widely publicised during the war years for security reasons.  In 1943 the building won FitzGerald the triennial gold medal of the RIAI.(2) 

FitzGerald's later career falls outside the scope of this database.  After the Second World War he set up in private practice and designed several prominent buildings in Dublin - including O'Connell Bridge House (1965), the former Department of Justice on St Stephen's Green (1966) and D'Olier House (circa 1970) - none of which fulfilled the promise of Collinstown.   He succeeded JOSEPH VINCENT DOWNES  JOSEPH VINCENT DOWNES as professor of architecture at University College, Dublin, in 1951 but resigned the chair in 1969 under pressure from dissatisfied students.   He died on 14 January 1987, predeceased by his wife Kay, daughter of Christopher Gore-Grimes, a Dublin solicitor, whom he had married in 1938, and survived by his son and two daughters.



References

All information in this entry not otherwise attributed is from the entry on FitzGerald in the Dictionary of Irish Biography and from the tribute by Brian O'Connell in the  RIAI Architects' Yearbook (1989), 67-68.

(1) Paul Larmour, Free State Architecture:  Modern Movement architecture in Ireland, 1922-1949 (Kinsale: Gandon Editions, 2009) , 66.
(2) Only interior photographs  were permitted in the RIAI Year Book for 1944.


3 work entries listed in chronological order for FITZGERALD, DESMOND


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Building: CO. CLARE, FIRGROVE, NEW TOWN
Date: 1946
Nature: Proposed new town near Shannon airport.
Refs: RIAI Year-book for 1946, 48(illus.)

Building: CO. LIMERICK, FOYNES AIRPORT, HOTEL (ON CO. CLARE SIDE OF RIVER)
Date: 1946A
Nature: Originally intended as hostel for airport staff.
Refs: RIAI Year-book(1946), 49(illus.); Architectural Design, Jul 1947, 181-2(illus.);

Building: CO. CLARE, SHANNON AIRPORT, TERMINAL BUILDING (TEMPORARY?)
Date: ?
Nature: Made of prefabricated temporary units.
Refs: Architectural Design, Sep 1947, 181(illus.)

Author Title Date Details
Fitzgerald, Desmond 'Town Planning' 1939 Irish Press: RIAI Centenary Souvenir Number, 22 Jun 1939, 5.
Fitzgerald, Desmond 'Airports and their development in Ireland' 1939 'Architecture Yesterday and Today', supplement to Irish Times, 21 Jun 1939, 27.