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Royal Hospital Kilmainham
Dublin 8, D08 FW31, Ireland
Phone +353 1 6129900

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HERITAGE TRAILThe Richmond Tower

Discover the captivating history of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham/IMMA through the immersive IMMA Heritage Trail. The IMMA Heritage Trail has grown out of the success of our recent podcast series of the PAST FUTURES, co-hosted by IMMA's esteemed Heritage Researcher, Barry Kehoe, and heritage enthusiast Stephen Taylor. The trail takes you on a journey through 16 unique stops dotted around the IMMA grounds.  

The Richmond Tower

The West Gate of the IMMA Campus has an imposing gate tower built by Surveyor General, Francis Johnston in 1811 to honour the Lord Lieutenant Charles Lennox, 4th Duke of Richmond. The tower was originally built on Victoria quay at the end of Watling Street.

George Petrie, postcard, SDCC Library

The ceremonial gate marked the entrance to Lord Galway’s walk a promenade that led on to St Stephen’s Hospital, now the Health Service Executive headquarters. The tower was briefly used as a guard house by the Dublin Metropolitan Police after they were formed in 1836.

Flewitt, National Army Museum, UK
Flewitt, National Army Museum, UK


When the Railway station opened a little further west in the former grounds of the Royal Hospital the tower’s narrow gate way was causing traffic congestion and it had to be removed. The Tower was taken apart carefully and relocated, block by block, to the Western Entrance of the Royal Hospital in 1847. Francis Johnston had secretly put his family coat of arms on the gate hidden behind wooden boards rendered to look like stone with the intention that the wood would rot away and his coat of arms would be revealed. When the Tower was moved it was discovered and replaced with the Royal Hospital Kilmainham Coat of Arms. 

Flewett, Scots Guards, National Army Museum, 1865

The tower became part of the gate house and guards hut for the Royal Hospital, where a picket duty, supplied from the nearby Richmond Barracks, guarded passage through the Western Entrance. To transit the grounds a permit had to be obtained from the Military Command. Nowadays everyone is welcome and the gate is left open to the public during the museum’s opening hours.

Rachel Whiteread, Demolished Printportfolio 1996

Towers and triumphal archways have always held a fascination as symbols of strength and at the same time fallibility. We tend to build our defences where we perceive our weaknesses to lie. The IMMA collection has works that refer to Towers such as Rachel Whiteread’s, Demolished Printportfolio (1996), an art work that examines a very different type of tower. Demolished Printportfolio (1996), considers the socio-economic changes in Thatcher’s Britain and their impact on the number of homeless people in London. The demolished documents focus on the destruction of tower blocks in three different housing estates in Hackney, East London, between 1993 and 1995.



The IMMA Heritage Trail is kindly supported by An Chomhairle Oidhreachta / The Heritage Council and the Office of Public Works. OSI Historic map details are provided courtesy of Tailte Éireann.

Important Notice


We would like to advise our visitors that our Main Reception area is closed for renovation from 22 April until mid-June.  A temporary reception is open on the ground floor next to the original main entrance. While we prepare to open our next exhibition Hilary Heron: A Retrospective on 24 May, there are two exhibitions to see Derry Film & Video Workshop and Self: Determination: Artists Commissions. IMMA’s gardens and café are open to the public.