IMG_2963Clock tower building in July 2023 

Originally opened in 1816 as the Richmond Penitentiary, this iconic tower is one of the most well-known of the 11 protected structures on the Grangegorman site. Built to the designs of Francis Johnston, also known for the Lower House on site and for the GPO on O’Connell St, the Richmond Penitentiary was the first of the penitentiary style in Britain and Ireland. The front facade, which overlooks Grangegorman Lower and the western side of the site, is all that remains of the original structure. The Grangegorman Masterplan shows the building’s final use as academic space for the College of Engineering & Built Environment.

A green area – the Cultural Garden – has been strategically placed directly opposite, framing the Clock Tower and offering a place for celebration and commemoration of this historic building and the wider Grangegorman site. This was developed as part of the Site Infrastructure and Public Realm (SIPR) Project over 2013/14. The four-sided clock on top of the building also has historic significance as it is the oldest flatbed mechanical clock in Britain and Ireland. This is now regularly maintained and can be heard chiming the hour throughout the Grangegorman area.

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Click on the images for a larger view

Initial stabilisation and partial refurbishment works were undertaken in 2014 in order to stem further deterioration and bring the building back into use. Since late 2014, the Clock Tower has been home to the GDA, DIT Campus Planning and the HSE Project Offices. Further works to the building, including the installation of disability access, are currently underway.

Scaffolding being removed from the clock tower building in October 2022 to reveal the newly renovated windows and stone work. 

Historic use 

Opened in 1816, the Clock Tower building historically was intended as a penitentiary. However in 1818 it initially served as a Fever Hospital. It first held prisoners in 1820 but closed as a prison in 1831 and was used from 1832- 1834 as a Cholera Hospital. In 1836 it reopened as the first exclusively female penitentiary in the UK and Ireland.

Up until 1858 it also served as a transportation depot, holding women and girls for up to 3 months before their transportation to Tasmania. Later in 1874, due to overcrowding elsewhere, the north wing of the prison began housing male prisoners again. It was in 1897 that it changed purpose again to serve as an administrative centre for the Richmond Lunatic Asylum (later renamed the Grangegorman Mental Hospital and St. Brendan’s Hospital) and maintained this purpose for the next century.


Key adjacencies to the Clocktower include the future Workday site and Broadstone Gate to the east, the East Quad to the south and An Croí to the west.



Of this:

1750m2- Occupied (as of October 2021)

1900m2- Unoccupied (as of October 2021)

Current use

The Clock Tower housed the Grangegorman Development Agency offices before the move to Park House in 2022. At present the Clock Tower is used for office purposes by a number of TU Dublin staff including TU Dublin’s president. However, large portions of the Clocktower remain un-occupied.

Final Masterplan Use

The current end user is anticipated to be a suitable educational department from TU Dublin.

Description of New Facilities

There is yet to be a finalised programme for the Clock Tower. However, several facilities the Clock Tower could host have been put forward over the years. These include a building to host the Faculty of Engineering and Built Environment of TU Dublin and more general purposes including office, administration, educational and cultural uses subject to general guidelines.

Works to Date

A conservation & condition report by Coady Architects was published in 2013 outlining works required. Works began in 2014 for the initial stabilisation and refurbishment of the Clock Tower until additional funding could be secured for further work.

In 2016 DAC works were carried out including re-pointing lime mortar, installing ramps, steps and doors as well as additional service related works.

Additional works were carried out to safeguard the Clock Tower’s historical building fabric which reached substantial completion in October 2022.

A grant under the Historical Structures Fund was secured for the refurbishment of a select number of the Clock Tower’s windows in Q1 of 2023. Work is set to commence for 29 of the windows and 3 doors on the engineering block in Q2/ Q3 of 2023.

Design Team and Contractor/s Involved 

2014 works

Design Team Architects: Coady Partnership Architects (CPA)

Mechanical & Electrical Services Engineers: IN2 Design Partnership

Civil/ Structural Engineers: DBFL Consulting Engineers

Quantity Surveyor/ PSDP : Aecom

Quantity Surveyor/ PDSP: Davis Langdon

Initial Works: Clancy Construction

2016 works

Design Team Architects: Coady Partnership Architects (CPA)

Consulting Engineer: IN2 Engineer

Electrical Contractor: L. Redmond (Electrical) Ltd.

Lighting Protection Contractor: ADS Associates

Mechanical Contractor: Phoenix Mechanical Ltd.

Security Contractor: ADT Fire & Security

Main Contractor: Francis Haughey Construction (DAC works)

2022 works

Works: Tolmac

Engineers: CORA Consulting Engineers

2023 works

Conservation Architect: FKP Architects- Fitzgerald Kavanagh Partners

Window Specialist: Maclyn Conservation Joinery


The current end user is anticipated to be a suitable educational department from TU Dublin.

Programme Progress


Procurement Route


Design Team

Coady Partnership Architects


Clancy Construction (initial works)

Francis Haughey Construction (additional works)

Documents and more Information

Contractor appointed for the Clock Tower building

Francis Haughey Construction sign Contract for Clock Tower Works

Contract Signing for Clock Tower Refurbishment