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Lansdowne Road

Carl Mullen signs rugby ball for small boy


Lansdowne Road Stadium is situated in the neighborhood of Ballsbridge in the city's Dublin 4 area.

lansdowne roadThe stadium is named after the nearby road, which in turn is named after the Marquess of Lansdowne. Lansdowne is an area in the English county of Somerset. The Marquis was also the Earl of Shelbourne, and nearby Shelbourne Road is also named after him.

The creation of the original Lansdowne Road Stadium which was the oldest international stadium in the world until it was replaced in 2010, was the vision of Henry William Doveton Dunlop (1844 -1930), an outstanding young athlete and Trinity College Dublin graduate, who organised the first All Ireland Athletics Championships.  His vision was to create a purpose built sporting venue and this he did at Lansdowne Road as he purchased a 21 year lease on the ground from the Earl of Pemboke's Estate at an annual rent of 70 pounds. It also cost 1,000 pounds to enclose and level the ground, lay down a cinder running track and erect a pavilion. The Stadium first opened for athletics in 1872 and Dunlop also founded the Lansdowne rugby club. 

The original Lansdowne Road was a multi sports venue including as it did a track for athletics, a cricket pitch, a croquet green, three football pitches and facilities for archery and lawn tennis. Lansdowne road was the site of the very first athletics international (Ireland vs. England) in 1875.

Dunlop originally tried to hold his events on Trinity college campus but after the first event he was told by the Provost to find another venue. Writing in 1921, Dunlop stated: "I was therefore forced to look for another plot, and after careful consideration chose the present Lansdowne Road one. In conjunction with the late Edward Dillon (my trainer), I took a 69 year lease from the Pembroke Estate, paying a ground rent of £60 per annum, of part only of the premises stretching from the railway to about 60 yards from the Dodder. I laid down a cinder running path of a quarter-mile, laid down the present Lansdowne Tennis Club ground with my own theodolite, started a Lansdowne archery club, a Lansdowne cricket club, and last, but not least, the Lansdowne Rugby Football Club - colours red, black and yellow. On the tennis club grounds the first tennis championship was held long before Fitzwilliam meetings."

The first Rugby match

The first rugby match played at the ground was an inter provincial between 20-a-side teams Leinster and Ulster in December 1876 (the game was re-enacted in 2006, see below).

On March 11th 1878 Lansdowne held its first international rugby fixture, Ireland vs. England (15-a-side) with Dunlop hiring it out for £5, and half of any profit over £50 after the deduction of expenses. England ran out winners by two goals and a try to nil. This was in fact the second such international but the first was played at Leinster Cricket ground in Rathmines after Lansdowne road was rejected by the then rugby authorities. Since that time every senior rugby international played in Dublin has been played there.

Dunlop eventually sold the lease to Harry Sheppard (honorary treasurer of the IRFU) but Sheppard died shortly afterwards in 1906 and his mother sold it on to the IRFU for 200 pounds. The IRFU signed a new lease for 50 years paying £50 a year ground rent (they finally purchasing the freehold in 1974 and the plot is now worth approximately £600m).

ireland vs. Wales 1966
Playing in his second international, "Barry" Bresnihan is extreme right in this picture taken in March, 1966, when Ireland defeated Wales 9-6 at Lansdowne Road.

It was at this time that a plan was conceived to change the orientation of the stadium to North/South. Originally it had run from East to West.  The first stand was a covered stand on the West side and an uncovered stand to the left of it. These were completed for the visit of Scotland in February 1908. In 1928 the East side of the ground was fitted with a stand. The West stand was then replaced by a two-tier structure in 1955. In 1974 the lower tier of the West stand was renovated and then the most modern part of the stadium, the East Stand was completely rebuilt in 1983. 

Pictures from my Visit

These pictures are some of the last taken of the old ground prior to demolition:

lansdowne road

Picture I took of the East stand, March 15th 2007, just before the stadium was knocked down for rebuilding. Btw. The man on the right wouldn't let me pass to take further pictures inside so I went on military maneuvers to get inside (The things I do for this web site).

lansdowne road
Photo showing all the turnstile entrances.
lansdowne road
Pitch side view of East stand.
Lansdowne road
The West stand, showing its age.
lansdowne road
View down to the South stand.

Lansdowne Road has currently capacity of 49,000 for rugby and 36,000 when converted to an all seater stadium for major soccer matches.

The new stadium

lansdowne road

Finished in Q2 2009 the new 50,000 all seater stadium is something to behold. The cost is expected to be approximately €365 million; of this, €190 million will come from the Irish government, with the remainder paid by the IRFU and Football Association of Ireland. The new stadium is designed by HOK SVE architects and Buro Happold engineers, with ME Engineers providing the building services design.

Project Timeline

Planning Approval granted Late March 2007
Demolition Started on Site Late May 2007
Main Contractor appointed October 2007
Started Roof Steel Fabrication September 2008 offsite
Started Erection January 2009
Started Cladding April 2009
Pitch contract awarded June 2009
Big Screen installation commenced July 2009
Power is connected to the first switch boards September 2009
The Roof steel is de-propped and fully self supporting October 2009
Started Pitch Construction November 2009
Flood lighting on the East stand tested December 2009
Steward recruitment commences February 2009
Seed sown on the pitch March 2010
Practical completion and handover End April 2010
Official opening May 2010


Lansdowne project website

Return visit October 2008, stadium clearly taking shape
View under the stand onto what will be the pitch area
The new stadium complete (photo copyright Peter Barrow Photography Apr 2010)

Some historic events:

  • 1874: The Irish Rugby Football Union (IRFU) was founded in 1874 and its Headquarters is at 62 Lansdowne Road alongside the famous Lansdowne ground.
  • 1954: Until 1954, Irish Rugby home games were shared between Lansdowne and Ravenhill in Belfast.
  • 1981: Biggest football attendance: 48,500, Rep of Ireland v France.
  • Lansdowne Road has been the venue for Ireland’s last three Triple Crown-clinching victories in 1982, 1985 and 2004.
  • East Stand built.
  • 1991: Ireland played its first-ever home Rugby World Cup game at Lansdowne in 1991, defeating Zimbabwe by 55-11.
  • 1994: The Barbarians first played at Lansdowne as recently as 1994 when they defeated South Africa 23-15.
  • 1995: Floodlights were installed.
  • 2004: The record attendance for a pool match in the Heineken Cup is also held by Lansdowne.  23,463 people attended the 2004 game between Leinster and Cardiff.
  • 2005: The record attendance for a non-International at Lansdowne is 48,500 for the Heineken Cup Quarter Final between Leinster and Leicester in April 2005.  This is also a Quarter Final record for that competition.
  • 2006: Last international 61-17 Ireland win over the Pacific Islanders on 26 November.
  • On new years eve, 2006, Leinster claimed a 20-12 victory against Ulster in the final match at the ground before demolition begins. Second-half tries from Owen Finegan and Jamie Heaslip saw them come from behind to beat Ulster.

Disappointingly David Humphreys, who captained Ulster to Heineken Cup glory at the Dublin venue in 1999, had his afternoon cut short by a fifth-minute shoulder injury.

Three first-half penalties and a drop goal from Humphreys' replacement, Paddy Wallace, gave Ulster a 12-5 half-time advantage, with Denis Hickie scoring the game's first try for Leinster.

It was effectively a tale of two halves as Leinster dominated the second half, with the aid of the elements. No 10 Sexton struck a penalty, six minutes in, and was unfortunate to miss another place kick just moments later.

Despite losing Hickie, who was yellow carded for killing the ball as Ulster pressed for a try with numbers out to the right, Leinster picked up their second try while down to 14 men.

Replacement lock Finegan, who clashed with his former Wallaby team mate Justin Harrison in the aftermath of his score, crashed through Paul Steinmetz's tackle on 64 minutes after a barrage of Leinster attacks.

Felipe Contepomi, showing no ill effects of his recent knee injury, converted and the Pumas star showed lovely hands in the build-up to Heaslip's 77th-minute effort.

Ulster, for whom Wallace missed a penalty on the hour, were completely stretched as snipes from O'Driscoll and Kieran Lewis and a timely offload from Bernard Jackman put Heaslip over in the right corner ensure Leinster's fifth win in their last six meetings with their northern counterparts.

  • On Monday, 31 July, 2006 Dublin City Council gave LRSDC notice of their intention to grant planning permission for the new stadium.

Stadium Statistics

Name: Aviva Stadium
Capacity: 50,000 all seated
20,000 (lower tier)
18,500 (upper tier)
10,000 (premium level)
1,500 (box level)
Corporate boxes: 36 (seating for 850 people)
Wheelchair spaces: 230 throughout all levels of the stadium
Dimensions: 47.65 metres high above pitch
189.9 metres north to south
203 metres east to west excluding podium and grand stairs
Site Size: 6.4 hectacres (63,802 sq.m.)
Roof Size: 19,000 sq.m.
Cladding: Aviva Stadium
Cost: €410 million (inclusive of €191 government funding)
Project start: May 2007
Project completed: April 2010
Employment: Over 6,000 people were employed on the project in various capacities over a three year period. The project consumed approximately 4,000,0000 man hours. At peak construction just over 1,300 people were on site on a daily basis.
Demolition: The whole stadium was demolished over a two month period. Most of the existing structure was crushed on site and 25,000 tonnes of concrete blockwork and brickwork were re-used as fill on site. Over 1,5000 tonnes of steelwork from the old stadium was recycled.
Construction: 5,000 tonnes structural steel.
150km (100 miles) pipework internal and external.
450km (280 miles) cabling including all power data and controls cabling.
8,000 pre cast concrete units manufactured off site.
72,000 tonnes concrete cast in situ on site.
1,600 piles.
220,000 concrete blocks.
17 acres floorplate across all levels.
30,000 metres block walls.
Features: 3,000 lux floodlighting system
34 communications rooms
4,000 data points
150 CCTV cameras
115 stewards’ phones
400 TVs
1,150 fire detection devices
660 linear meters of beer line run
72km of pipe
185km of cable
3 restaurants (1,500 cover)
9 kitchens
69 kiosks / bars
1,000 keys of beer
90,000 pints

Project Team

Client: Aviva Stadium
Directors: David Blood, Philip Browne (chairman), Michael Cody, John Delaney, John Hussey, Noel Murphy
Project Director: Michael Greene
Stadium Director: Martin Murphy
Project Management: PM Group (led by Pat Molloy, Project Manager and Tom Leacy, Construction Manager)
Quantity Surveyors: KMCS (led by Nigel Spence)
Architects: Populous (led by Ben Vickery) Scott Tallon Walker (led by Bryan Roe)
Structural Engineers: Buro Happold (led by Geoff Werran)
Services Engineers: M-E Engineers (led by Darran Briant)
Landscape Designers: Gross Max (led by Nigel Sampey)
Catering Designers: Smart Design (led by Allan Dieckmann)
Pitch Design: STRI (led by James Westwood)
Planning Consultant: Tom Philips Associates
Fire Consultancy: Michael Slattery Associates
Communications: WHPR (led by Roddy Guiney)
Main Contractor: Sisk (led by Michael Barnwell)
Demolition & Rail Corridor: McNamara (led by Luke Gibbons)
Substructure Subcontractor: BAM (led by Perry Haughton)
Structural Steel Subcontractor: SIAC/ Cimolai JV (led by Federico Siriani and Pat Ahern)
Mechanical Subcontractor: Mercury (led by Alan Gorman)
Electrical Subcontractor: Kentz (led by Richard Geoghegan)
Roofing & Cladding: Williaam Cox (led by Bob Collins)


1. Thanks to the Lansdowne Road Stadium Development company for some of the text on this page.

2. "Lansdowne through the years" by Edward Newman 2006. ISBN 034092400 4, 978 0340 92400 6.

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