Thomas Cooley (architect)
Thomas Cooley was an English architect who came to Dublin from London after winning a competition for the design of Dublin's Royal Exchange in 1768. He built several public buildings in Dublin in the neoclassical
Neoclassical architecture
Neoclassical architecture was an architectural style produced by the neoclassical movement that began in the mid-18th century, manifested both in its details as a reaction against the Rococo style of naturalistic ornament, and in its architectural formulas as an outgrowth of some classicizing...

 style. Together with James Gandon
James Gandon
James Gandon is today recognised as one of the leading architects to have worked in Ireland in the late 18th century and early 19th century. His better known works include The Custom House, the Four Courts, King's Inns in Dublin and Emo Court in Co...

 (1743–1823), Cooley was part of a small school of architects influenced by Sir William Chambers (1723–1796).

Cooley worked as a draughtsman
Technical drawing
Technical drawing, also known as drafting or draughting, is the act and discipline of composing plans that visually communicate how something functions or has to be constructed.Drafting is the language of industry....

 and clerk to the architect and engineer Robert Mylne
Robert Mylne
Robert Mylne was a Scottish architect and civil engineer, particularly remembered for his design for Blackfriars Bridge in London. Born and raised in Edinburgh, he travelled to Europe as a young man, studying architecture in Rome under Piranesi...

 (1733–1810), while the latter was building Blackfriars Bridge
Blackfriars Bridge
Blackfriars Bridge is a road and foot traffic bridge over the River Thames in London, between Waterloo Bridge and Blackfriars Railway Bridge, carrying the A201 road. The north end is near the Inns of Court and Temple Church, along with Blackfriars station...

 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
City Hall, Dublin
The City Hall, Dublin , originally the Royal Exchange, is a civic building in Dublin, Ireland. It was built between 1769 and 1779 to the designs of architect Thomas Cooley and is a notable example of 18th-century architecture in the city.-Overview:...

, was completed in 1779. The design shows the influence of Mylne's work, which in turn derived from French neoclassical architecture.

Cooley also designed Newgate Prison
Newgate Prison, Dublin
Newgate Prison was a place of detention in Dublin until its closure in 1863. It was initially located at Cornmarket, near Christ Church Cathedral, on the south side of the Liffey, and was originally one of the city gates.-From city gate to prison:...

 (demolished 1893), the Marine School, and a chapel, all in Dublin. In 1781 he began another public building in the city, but on his death at the age of 44, the project was handed over to Gandon, who completed it, to his own design, as the Four Courts
Four Courts
The Four Courts in Dublin is the Republic of Ireland's main courts building. The Four Courts are the location of the Supreme Court, the High Court and the Dublin Circuit Court. The building until 2010 also formerly was the location for the Central Criminal Court.-Gandon's Building:Work based on...


Outside Dublin, Cooley built a number of country houses including Caledon (1779), for James Alexander
James Alexander, 1st Earl of Caledon
James Alexander, 1st Earl of Caledon was an Irish landlord, merchant, politician and peer of the realm. The second son of Alderman Nathaniel Alexander of Derry, he was the effective founder of the Caledon family, and certainly the founder of its fortune.-An Irish 'nabob':Alexander began his career...

, later Earl of Caledon
Earl of Caledon
Earl of Caledon, of Caledon, County Tyrone, is a title in the Peerage of Ireland. It was created in 1800 for James Alexander, 1st Viscount Caledon. He was a merchant who had made an enormous fortune in India. He also represented the constituency of Londonderry City in the Irish House of Commons...

. He designed several buildings in Armagh
Armagh is a large settlement in Northern Ireland, and the county town of County Armagh. It is a site of historical importance for both Celtic paganism and Christianity and is the seat, for both the Roman Catholic Church and the Church of Ireland, of the Archbishop of Armagh...

, including the Archbishop's Palace (now the town hall), and the public library.


  • Richardson, Albert E. (2001) Monumental Classic Architecture in Great Britain and Ireland. Courier Dover Publications. ISBN 978-0486415345
  • Summerson, John (1993) Architecture in Britain: 1530-1830 9th edition. Yale. ISBN 978-0300058864
  • Jacqueline O'Brien with Desmond Guinness, Dublin: A Grand Tour, Weidenfeld and Nicolson, London, 1994.
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