Thomas Cooley (architect)

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18th-century view of Cooley's Royal Exchange building

Thomas Cooley (1740–1784) was an English-born Irish architect who came to Dublin from London after winning a competition for the design of Dublin's Royal Exchange in 1768.[1]

Early Years

Cooley was born to William and Mary Cooley in London and began his career as a carpenter apprenticeship in 1756 with interest in architecture.[2]

Cooley worked as a draughtsman and clerk to the architect and engineer Robert Mylne (1733–1810), while the latter was building Blackfriars Bridge in London, between 1761 and 1769. In 1769, he won the competition to design a new Royal Exchange in Dublin, and the building, now the City Hall, was completed in 1779. The design shows the influence of Mylne's work, which in turn derived from French neoclassical architecture.[3]

Architecture Career and Ireland

Arriving in Ireland in 1781, Cooley built several public buildings in Dublin in the neoclassical style. Together with James Gandon (1743–1823), Cooley was part of a small school of architects influenced by Sir William Chambers (1723–1796).[3]

Cooley also designed Newgate Prison (demolished 1893), the Marine School, and a chapel, all in Dublin.[4] In 1781 he began another public building in the city, but on his death at the age of 44 in Dublin, the project was handed over to Gandon, who completed it, to his own design, as the Four Courts.[3]

Outside Dublin, Cooley built a number of country houses including Caledon (1779), for James Alexander, later Earl of Caledon.[5] He designed several buildings in Armagh, including the Archbishop's Palace (now the town hall),[5] and the public library.[6]

List of Buildings Designed or Built by Cooley

This is an incomplete list of buildings from Cooley:[7]

  • St. Patrick's Cathedral 1769
  • Headfort 1769-1771
  • Palace Demesne, Archbishop's Palace - remodelling
  • Sir Rogerson's Quay-Hibernian Marine School 1770-1773
  • Chapel at Phonenix Park, Royal Hibernian Military School 1771
  • Abbey Street Public Library 1771
  • Ardbraccan 1772-1775
  • Newgate Prison 1773-1781
  • Royal School, College Hill 1774
  • Bishop's Palace, Killaloe 1774
  • Royal Hospital, South Kilmainham 1775-1777
  • The Four Courts, Inn's Quay 1768-1802


From 1781 Cooley remained in Ireland for the rest of his life. He was survived by a son William, daughter and predeceased by his wife.[8]


  1. Jacqueline O'Brien, p. 130.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Summerson, p.412
  4. Richardson, p.27
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Architects of Ireland - Thomas Cooley (1740-1784)". Archiseek. Retrieved 2008-08-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  6. "Public Library,Armagh". Archiseek. Retrieved 2008-08-09.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>


  • Richardson, Albert E. (2001) Monumental Classic Architecture in Great Britain and Ireland. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0-486-41534-5
  • Summerson, John (1993) Architecture in Britain: 1530-1830 9th edition. Yale. ISBN 978-0-300-05886-4
  • Jacqueline O'Brien with Desmond Guinness, Dublin: A Grand Tour, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1994.