The Bank of Ireland was established in 1783, under an act of parliament, with a capital of £600,000, which, on a renewal of the charter in 1791, was increased to £1,000,000, and by subsequent renewals, the last in 1821, the bank was authorised to enlarge its capital to £3,000,000. The proprietors are incorporated by the name of "The Governor and Company of the Bank of Ireland," and the establishment is under the management of a governor, who must be a proprietor of £4000 stock, a deputy-governor, holding £3000, and 15 directors holding £2000 each; all these are elected by the court of proprietors, and five directors must vacate annually, but not in rotation.
- Agencies have been established in most of the principal cities and towns in Ireland, and connections have been formed with the Bank of England and the Royal Bank of Scotland, for facilitating the transmission of money.
The building is nearly of a semicircular form and stands on an acre and a half of ground, and previously to the Union was occupied as the Parliament House.
- The principal front consists of a colonnade of the Ionic order extending round three sides of a quadrangular recess, and supporting an entablature and cornice surmounted by an attic, which is broken only in the central range by a projecting portico of four columns of the same order, sustaining a triangular pediment, in the tympanum of which are the royal arms, and on the apex a statue of Hibernia, with one of Fidelity on the right, and of Commerce on the left extremity of the attic.
- The east front, in College-street, has a noble portico of six Corinthian columns projecting far into the surrounding area, and supporting an enriched cornice surmounted by a triangular pediment, on the apex of which is a statue of Fortitude, with Justice at one end and a figure of Liberty at the other: this portico, which differs from the style of architecture of the rest of the structure, was formerly the entrance to the House of Lords.
- The west front, which faces Foster-place, has in the centre an Ionic portico of four columns, supporting an entablature and cornice crowned with a triangular pediment, corresponding in style with the principal front.
- Within the central portico are two entrances leading to the Cash office, communicating at each end with corridors leading to the various offices in the establishment. This part of the building stands on the site of the former House of Commons.
- The former House of Lords, which remains unaltered, is now appropriated to the use of the court of proprietors; it is of rectangular form, with a semicircular recess at one extremity, in which the throne was placed, and in which has since been set up a statue of white marble of Geo. III.
- In the rear of the interior is a department for printing the banknotes, the machinery of which is wholly worked by steam, and arranged with such ingenuity as in a great measure to baffle any attempt at forgery, and at the same time to add greatly to the expedition with which the process of printing is carried on, while it likewise affords a check upon the workmen employed, by means of a self-acting register, which indicates the quantity of work done and the actual state of that in progress at any moment required.
The Hibernian Joint Stock Banking Company is managed by a governor, deputy-governor, and 7 directors; it transacts business at a house in Castle-street, built for the late private banking establishment of Lord Newcomen.
The Provincial Bank of Ireland is managed by a court of directors in London and has an office in William-street and agencies throughout the country parts.
The National Bank of Ireland was formed under the provisions of the same act, with a capital of two million subscribed in London and Ireland, to be applied to the support of banking establishments connected with it in Ireland, by contributing to each a sum equal to that locally subscribed; it has also branches in the principal towns.
The private banking establishments are those of La Touche and Co., Castle-street; Ball and Co, Henry-street; Boyle and Co., College-green; and the Royal Bank, Foster-place.
There are two Savings' Banks, both formed in 1818, one in Meath-street, the other in Cuffe-street, in St. Peter's parish. The former has two branches in Marlborough-street and at the Linen-hall, by which the benefits of the system have been extended to the northern division of the city.
The Money Order office, held in the general post-office, furnishes means for the secure transmission of small sums.
SOURCE: A Topographical Dictionary of Ireland by Samuel Lewis (pub 1837)