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History & Heritage > Buildings > The Harrison Hall

The Harrison Hall

This was formerly a Sessions House of the 17th Century, remodelled by the Architect George Ensor in 1792 into a combined Courthouse and Markethouse at a cost of £1,200. Markets under sheltered arcades were held there until 1836 when further changes were made to it after it was purchased for use as a Catholic Church by Parish Priest, Fr. Madden.

The arcades were built up, the entrance front was expanded with tower, and belfry and cupola were added. Th e porch and cupola were erected to the design of J. O’Farrell of Roscommon by Fr. Madden in 1844. During the time Very Rev. Dr. Phillips (who died in 1893) was Parish Priests he erected the Conference Room and Sacristy as designed by Mr. Goldie of London. Dr. Philops was Parish Priest for almost forty years.

The Market House moved to the site of the present Post office.

When a new Church was built and opened in 1903, the building was eventually chosen as a Hall to commemorate the life and times of a famous Physician in Roscommon Dr. John Harrison. It became such in 1912 and found various uses as a theatre, dancehall, cinema and billiard hall. It eventually became rundown and was sold to the Bank of Ireland in the mid 1970’s. It was opened for business in 1980 and is now one of the most attractive buildings and is one of the oldest buildings in continous use since its original beginnings in the later 17th Century.

The site may have been in earlier times the site of a town market cross where meetings were held, proclamations read and was always the hub of activity just as it is today. A well known Geographer and Architect Rev. Daniel Beaufort  tells us in his travel journal for 1808 that Roscommon had a “linen market every second Thursday and great yarn fairs”. Slater’s Directory for 1882 states that “The Market, a good one for grain is held on Saturday”.

Issac Weld in his Statistical Survey of County Roscommon in 1832 for the Royal Dublin Society is obviously referring to this recenetly vacated building when he states “The superb rooms of the County Courthouse in the town of Roscommon are still in use for balls and assemblies. The newspapers are observing the races at Roscommon, and the brilliant ball which proceded them in the Spring 1832”.

Further Reading Sources:
Volume 3 – 1990 Roscommon Historical & Archaeological Society Journal
  • Page 3:  Dr. Harrison and the Harrison Hall by David Molloy
Volume 4 – 1992 Roscommon Historical & Archaeological Society Journal
  • Page 24: A Tale of Two Rangers by John Kerrigan
  • Page 39: Co. Roscommon Museum/Tourist Office (John Harrison memorial Hall) by David Molloy
  • Page 45: An Ecclesiastical Site at Cloontogher, Kilteevan by Hazel A. Ryan
  • Page 51: Roscommon – An Independent Diocese and a Separate Kingdom
  • Page 61: Some 17th century Renaissance Style Sculpture from Roscommon Town by Jim Higgins, MA
  • Page 73: My Memories of the Harrison Hall Roscommon by Bridie Kirrane
Volume 5 – 1994 Roscommon Historical & Archaeological Society Journal
  • Page 44: Local Priest Stops Panic – Disaster Adverted by John Kerrigan
  • Page 67: The Ensors and the Session House, Roscommon Town by Albert Siggins

Volume 9 – 2003 Roscommon Historical & Archaeological Society Journal
  • Page 37: Roscommon Protestant Meeting 1812 by William Gacquin
  • Page 53: Photo: Caravans outside Bank of Ireland, The Square 1954

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Brief outline of the Harrison Hall

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