This post contains affiliate links. At no additional cost to you, I may earn a small commission if you book or purchase through these links. You can read my full disclosure policy here.Dublin, Ireland is such a charming city. I remember having an overnight layover there several years ago. It was dark when we flew in and we spent the night in the airport (long story). The next morning when we flew out, I remember thinking the only color I see is green! Yes, Ireland is known for being green but I noticed when I visited Dublin last spring, it was mostly gray with “pops of color”. What do they use for those pops of color? Doors of course! Here are the delightful doors of Dublin along with their story and where to find them.
Doors of Dublin
As I said, Dublin is pretty gray for the most part. Gray buildings against the usual gray concrete and then Ireland’s mostly gray skies (sunshine can be hard to come by in Ireland) make for a fairly monotone visual at times.
The Colorful Story
Just for illustration-these aren’t their actual doors 😉
The popular story on how the colorful doors came into existence surrounds two famous writers, George Moore and Oliver St John Gogarty. As the story goes, George painted his door green so that when Oliver got drunk he wouldn’t mistakenly knock on it thinking it was his own. In response, Oliver painted his door red so that George wouldn’t mistake it for his door when drunk. 🤦♀️
Well. About that…
The Black and White Story
In actuality, the true story, in a nutshell, is that the people who lived in what’s called “Georgian Dublin” had to keep the exterior of their homes in line with the fierce architectural policies. To make themselves stand out, they painted their doors different colors. This is also the time period where they added other fancy ornaments such as door knockers and fanlights.
Georgian Dublin came about from the Georgian period which began with the reign of George I in 1714 and ended with the death of George IV in 1830. Today, Georgian Dublin references both this time period and the houses in Dublin built in this style of architecture.
During the Georgian period, Dublin rose to affluence and became the second-largest city in the British Empire after London. With the rise in affluence came this elegant style of architecture.
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The Doors of Dublin are an Irish icon. The interesting twist here is that they gained notoriety in New York City. Accidentally.
So, how did that happen? I’m glad you asked because, of course, I’m going to tell you!
Basically, Bob Fearon, the head of an NYC ad agency took photos of these colorful doors he found while on assignment in Dublin in 1970. The doors weren’t part of the assignment but he liked them and wanted to make a collage for himself. Upon returning to New York, he completed the collage. He then showed it to Joe Malone who owned an Irish Tourism Office on Fifth Avenue. Joe thought it would be perfect to display the collage in the window for St. Patrick’s Day. Bob agreed and the collage went up for the Irish holiday.
People passing by as they headed to the St. Patrick’s Day parade stopped to stare at the beautiful collage. This resulted in so many requests for purchase that Joe Malone commissioned it and the rest, as they say, is history. Or for millennials, it went viral! 😉
FUN FACT: Oscar Wilde even lived in one of these houses!
Discovering the Doors of Dublin
I love pretty doors and I love all things colorful. So, of course, this combination was perfect for me. I dragged my parents all over Dublin photographing these beautiful Georgian doors (and everything in between)!
The result is that I could make my own collage and make my own collage I did!
These doors can be found all over the city but with high concentrations in Fitzwilliam Square, Merrion Square, and St Stephen’s Green. All of the doors in my photos are from around Merrion Square and Fenian Street which are marked on the map below.
Where To Stay in Dublin
The Merrion Hotel (luxury at its finest between Merrion Square and St Stephen’s Green)
Maldron Hotel Kevin Street (mid-range right across the street from St Patrick’s Cathedral)
While they aren’t by far the biggest thing to do in Dublin, if you’re heading there and have some time, check out some of these doors. They are beautiful, colorful and have become quite a point of interest in recent years for travelers. You can even make your own version of the iconic collage!
Have you been to Dublin and seen any of these doors? Which one was your favorite? Let me know below!
‘Til next time…
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Never, never seen a blog post about doors, just about doors, before. Seriously, I didn’t think I’d like this post. But you started out terrific, with the story of George and Oliver, and neat having moved to the New York and…you know it was right there, at that point, when I realized you had hooked me into this post, and I seriously wanted to read the rest. Not what I expected. And damn, yes the doors really are beautiful. Congrats on crafting a seriously neat post.
Hi Tom-Thanks so much! Funny that you mention that because I almost didn’t write this post. This was my third attempt at starting it and what made me do it was that I’ve been surprised in the past at how great obscure topics I didn’t think would do well have done extremely well on my site. This one has so far and its Instagram post has done well too! Thanks for reading! 🙂
samantha karen says
How very interesting! I would have thought they were a collection of bright doors and not about this unique story behind them. Weird to think of a time when there were architecture police! Loved how your collage turned out, so nice to see all the doors in one concise photo.
Hi Samantha-Thank you! I’m not totally surprised about the architecture police though. That is still around for lots of places today. Things that can’t be taller than X or homeowners associations where you have to have permission to change the outside of your house (that is common in the US and my neighborhood is like that). I’m glad you like my collage and thanks for reading! 🙂
Linda (LD Holland) says
We found Dublin to be so colourful because there were flowers decorating the buildings. But I must admit we missed this wide array of colourful doors. So interesting to know there were different historical accountings of why doors are painted different colours. I love the door with the multiple colours and pictures.
Hi Linda-Dublin does have some color to it for sure…around the Temple Bar area has some color and there’s an umbrella street and a “streamer” street (for lack of a better word), but there is sooo much gray which is probably emphasized on cloudy days…and there are a lot of those! Thanks for reading! 🙂
Alice ford says
I love colorful doors, and places that add some spice to the mundane. I would certainly have one festooned with animals and door knockers of all sorts. I’ m always drawn to magnificent doors on my travels as well.
Hi Alice-Colorful to spice up the mundane is always fantastic, right? Thanks for reading! 🙂
Melissa Butler says
I do have a soft spot for colourful doors and I am always taking pictures of them when travelling. I never knew the story about George Moore and Oliver St John Gogarty and I am not surprised that their story revolves around drinking 🙂 It is a good idea though to paint your door green so he does go to the wrong door. Do you know that there are also places in the UK that have to be in line with the fierce architectural policies to this day?
Hi Melissa-I didn’t know that but I’m not surprised as that happens in other cities too. We live in a neighborhood where we have to follow somewhat similar rules. Thanks for reading! 🙂
I love Dublin! I have great memories of grabbing a cup of coffee and wandering around Merrion Square taking photos of the doors before the city wakes up. I have soooo many photos and love the idea of making a collage
Hi Sherianne-They are absolutely beautiful doors. We were there in the offseason so we didn’t have too many people to fight but I bet it’s nice seeing them in the early morning when no one is around. Thanks for reading! 🙂
Patty Covello says
I went to Ireland in 2017 and I thought the colorful doors were beautiful. I got pictures from the left, middle, and right. Since some of my heritage is Irish I had to go. Didn’t want to come home. I felt as though I was at home. My mother’s maiden name was Murray. I asked a couple of locals if Murray was a very common Irish last name. He told me that there are Murray’s all over Ireland.
Hi Patty-I’m so glad you had a great time! The doors are gorgeous and Ireland is beautiful and the people are very friendly. Thanks for reading! 🙂