Located at 27 Pearse Street, close by the River Liffey on Dublin’s south side, Ionad an Phiarsaigh–The Pearse Centre occupies the Pearse family home, birthplace of Patrick Pearse. It is centrally located opposite Trinity College on Pearse Street, near Pearse Street Garda Station, Doyles Pub on the corner, and College Green leading onto Dame Street, and is easily accessed by foot, by train or by bus.
Patrick Pearse was the first of four children born to Margaret and James Pearse at 27 Brunswick Street (now Pearse Street). Patrick was born there in 1879 in the backroom of the first floor of the house. Originally from England, James Pearse, an ecclesiastical and architectural sculptor, conducted his business from the basement, ground floor, and yard of 27 Pearse Street. During the Pearse family’s few years living there, some of the rooms in the three-storey-over-basement Georgian terraced brick house (dated circa 1820) were let to other tenants.
Such was the success of the business that the Pearse family did not remain living in Pearse Street for long, moving after five years to a modest house in Sandymount in 1884. With his business expanding, James Pearse had to lease other properties at the back of No. 27 to facilitate the volume of work being done. James executed some major sculptural works, and in 1882 he was awarded first prize at the Dublin Exhibition. By the time of his death in 1900, his firm was employing the largest staff of stone carvers, cutters, polishers and rubbers in Ireland.
On his death, Willie and Patrick Pearse took over the running of the business. Willie was nineteen and studying at the Metropolitan School of Art and was later to travel to London and Paris for further training. Patrick was at this stage using the title ‘Patrick H. Pearse, Sculptor’ and the company’s name had become ‘Pearse and Sons.’
In its first few years under their stewardship, the company continued to prosper and to win major orders. However, despite Patrick’s attention to the business, his workload for Conradh na Gaeilge, combined with Willie’s studies and a depression in the building trade, saw the business go into decline. By 1910 Pearse and Sons was no more, being worth only £500 on dissolution. Much of this went to fund the Pearse’s Irish language school, firstly in Cullenswood House and later in St. Enda’s, Rathfarnham, County Dublin.
After the Pearse’s vacated the premises, it became home to the South City Workingmen’s Temperance Club (1913-18); the Thompson Motor Car Co. Ltd. (1920-24); C.E. Jacobs Automobile Electrical Service Co Ltd. (1927-43); a cycle agents (1943-50); upholstery companies (1950s); and a courier firm more recently. In 1996, The Ireland Institute for Historical and Cultural Studies gained possession of the house and has since restored it for use as its headquarters.